"Peace can be taught in practically every discipline if teachers truly concerned about the fate of this planet and its inhabitants have resources like this book to guide them...." Ian Harris (from the Foreword, 2011, p. vii)


Susan Gelber Cannon's Think, Care, Act
Peace Education Book

(Foreword by Ian Harris)

Available with web & bulk discounts from Information Age Publishing

"Peace can be taught in practically every discipline if teachers truly concerned about the fate of this planet and its inhabitants have resources like this book to guide them.... [Cannon's] sophisticated understanding of how to address these complex issues will help other teachers choosing to grapple with these difficult challenges. If more teachers follow the guidelines she provides in this book, every student can learn about peace."

The author uses three imperatives—think, care, act—to infuse required curricula with peace, character, multicultural, and global concepts in daily activities throughout the year. Committed to teaching for peace and justice, the author brings to life a teaching approach that empowers youth:

  • to think critically and creatively about historical, current, and future issues,
  • to care about classmates and neighbors as well as the global community,
  • to act—locally and globally—for the greater good.

Chapters address critical and creative thinking; media literacy; compassionate classroom and school climate; explorations of racism, gender issues, civil discourse, global citizenship, war, and peace; and school, community, and global social-action projects. Chapters include rationales, lesson expectations, and classroom "play-by-play." Students' feedback about the impact of lessons is also featured. With its combination of theory and practice Think, Care, Act is inspiring and unique.

SUSAN GELBER CANNON is a peace and character educator with over 30 years of classroom experience. Trained in moral development at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cannon teaches history and English, as well as Model UN, peacemaking, and debate at The Episcopal Academy near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

A pie chart of the components of peace education
“I envision peace education as an umbrella, encompassing education’s best efforts to empower youth to change the world for the better: critical and creative thinking education, civics education, character and moral education, multicultural and antibias education, gender-equity education, conflict resolution and antiviolence education, social justice and global education, service learning, environmental education, and 21st century education to name major strands of teaching for the greater good.”
(From the introduction)

From Think, Care, Act

From my earliest memories, I can see images of my father in uniform. There were the tiny photographs (fading even in my childhood) that he shot in Italy in World War II. There he was holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or posing with a buddy in a foxhole. In my memory, I can hear the stories, often funny, of how he and a buddy jumped waist-deep into a pigpen under orders to take cover, of getting stranded up a telephone pole when he was stringing wire as his jeep buddies sped away under German fire. My father told these stories over and over again, and they always ended with his loud belly laughs, as if he were trying to persuade us that the war had been fun.

But, I also hear the screaming. My father screamed in his sleep often, sometimes nightly, especially after watching a war movie.

After my father’s death, I asked my mother, “How did Dad go through all he did and still carry on a normal life?” “He fought the war every night for sixty years,” she replied, and turned away. He wasn’t alone. Millions of veterans of combat, soldier and civilian alike, are living with the demons of war both in their daily lives and in their nightmares. And every day, in numerous countries around the world, more men, women, and children are becoming living and dead casualties of war, military and civilian alike.

As a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, and a teacher, I want to know why we are allowing this as a global society. I have not raised my two sons to kill other mothers’ sons. I am not teaching my students so they can kill the students of other teachers. In my classroom, I refuse to support the myth of war anymore. I want to create a culture of peace.


  • In my American history classroom, students have spent two weeks designing ideal communities in the Americas of the 1600s, with the requirement that every rule and decision “will result in the most fair, sustainable, and positive outcomes for all involved,” including Native Americans, Europeans, Africans, men and women, children and adults. I’ve stayed in the background as they’ve created and debated the goals and rules for their communities. It’s been a complex assignment, in which students have analyzed historical facts and aimed to rewrite history. In reflecting on their thinking they say, “We had to use critical thinking. I would think of something and debate it with myself.” “You can’t go back in time and change stuff, but it did make me think in a new way.” “I learned how to make a successful community, which we will have in the future.” “I learned that you need to think beyond.”
  • In my English classroom, after weeks of reading, discussing, role playing, and debating the book, Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, I’ve asked my students if the racially charged novel should remain in the curriculum. A Black girl who has been active in our class discussions responds, “This was the first time I thought my classmates really understand some of the things I have to go through every day. It made me angry, but after we discussed it, I felt better. I think students should read this book in sixth grade. This is the grade when racial discrimination begins…” Meanwhile, a White boy shows new empathy and resolve, stating, “Children can’t change the past, but they can surely change the future, and the sorrow and sadness that the kids share will make the children reading the book unite and ban racial cruelty forever. Thank you for having us read it.”
  • It is near the end of our year in sixth-grade history, and I introduce my students to our final project. On the board for their homework assignment, I simply write, “Change the world! Details coming soon!” Gasps. Puzzled murmurs. Excited chatter. Finally, Kimberley pipes up, “Mrs. Cannon, are we really going to change the world? I always wanted to be one of those people who change the world.” Her enthusiastic reaction charges everyone up, and students begin planning world-changing projects ranging from educating their peers about the Iraq War and the election process, to collecting supplies for inner-city soccer programs and a school in Ghana, to cleaning up a local park and cooking at a women’s shelter.
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