Peaceable Classrooms

On July 28th, 2011, posted in: Peaceable Classrooms, Peaceable Living by 4 Comments

Sandy denisbtrating the double labyrinth.

Is there really such a thing as a peaceable classroom?  Well, yes, there are peaceable classrooms, and  I think that there can be peaceable classrooms.  So what does it take to create such a place?  It takes a nurturing and supportive environment, teachers who are able to manage their own state-of-being, and children who, with or without adult assistance, are able to manage their state-of-being as well.

Creating a Peaceable Classroom begins with the space.  Attention to detail in arranging the space, balancing the energy flow within the space, and creating connection, ownership of the space by  all who live and work there, are essential elements.  These elements can be accomplished through careful planning using Feng Shui principles (the ancient Chinese practice of placement for harmony and balance) and result in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment where students can learn and interact with each other in positive ways. Creating the Peaceable Classroom offers numerous ideas for making this happen.  One of the suggestions is to have clear pathways that meander a bit allowing the  sheng chi, good, motivating energy, to move easily through the room.  Long, straight pathways tend to bring in shar chi, fast, destructive energy, into the room which is undesirable (Chapter 2)

With the room ready to go, the next component needed for a peaceable classroom is a teacher and other adults connected to the classroom and the children who enter the classroom from a place of  “at-easeness” or live this “at-easeness” in the home and out of the home.  Being able to manage one’s state-of-being is essential in creating a peaceable space for learning.   Students pick-up on the state-of-being of the adults who have been entrusted with their care.  If the adults in their lives are stressed, upset, or overwhelmed, students, too, may well exhibit similar emotions and/or related behaviors. Therefore, it is very important for us adults to learn techniques for managing our emotions.  Not only will it help us function better and do our jobs better, but it will have a positive impact on our students as well.  Eric Jensen, author of Super Teaching, has written, “The best teachers will know how to influence learners’ states and moods;  and how to better manage their own feelings (Jensen 1995).”  Learning to do deep breathing, the Complete Breath (three part breath), can be very helpful in managing one’s emotions.  Breathing from the entire lungs brings over a liter of blood per minute into the lungs for distribution to the brain and all parts of the body as opposed to just a half tea cup of blood per minute when breathing happens in just the upper chest (Hendricks 1995).   Clearly, breathing from the full lungs brings greater blood flow and oxygen for clearer thinking and optimal functioning of all the organs and systems in the body.  Directions for learning the complete breath are found in chapter three of Creating the Peaceable Classroom.

And then there are the children.  They, too, need to have techniques that they can use to quiet their emotions so that they can be the best learners they can be.  That is, of course, their job.  Young children need the assistnce of the caring adults in their lives to help them learn these techniques and be reminded of when to use them.  Over time, they will know what works for them and be able to become more independent in the use of their preferred thechniques.  Finger walking a spiral or labyrinth is one technique that helps quiet or refocus students, resulting in improved learning.  I’ve seen this in a fourth grade student whose math quiz and test scores were in the  fortieth precentile.  Once he started to use a spiral before taking math quizes and tests, his scores improved into the eightieth percentile.  The process of finger walking a spiral helped quiet his emotions so that he could think more clearly, which resulted in higher quiz and test scores.  Using spirals and labyrinths is described in Chapter 11.

Peaceable classrooms can happen but it’s up to us.  It  bgins with a compassionate  and loving heart and an intention to create the best learning/living environment for our students/children that we can.  And after that, learning techniques that will help us and our students/children manage our/their state-of-being so that we all can do our best work.  The outcome, a supportive, safe and nurtuting place where where those iving and working there operate from a place of inner “at-easenss,” is well worth the thought, time, and effort involved.  Creativity, productivity, and positive interactions will increase.  Our world will be a better place.

Creating the Peaceable Classroom is a resource of ideas to help you live a more peaceable life.  For more information go to or

Peace to you,






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