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Eric Dawson (2008) Pop!Tech Pop!Cast

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POP!TECH [♪ POP!TECH Theme Music ♪] Brings Together The World's Leading Thinkers To Share Inspiration and Ideas Igniting Change And Unlocking Human Potential This Is Part Of Their Ongoing Conversation POP!TECH POP!CAST Good morning. Uh, this is Pop!Tech. Where's the "pop?" Good morning! [audience: "Good morning!"] You guys are worse than third graders on a Monday morning. First of all, thank you to Andrew and thank you to all of you for welcoming me and my fellow Fellows here to be part of this time. I want to begin with a story. And it is a story about a grandfather and his grandson. And the grandfather is sitting on a rock and he looks really upset. And the grandson comes up to him and says, "Grandfather, what's wrong?" And the grandfather says, "My son, I feel like I have these two wolves inside of me, and they're fighting. And one wolf is vengeful, and angry, and violent. And the other wolf is loving, and forgiving, and peaceful. And these wolves are at war inside my spirit." And the grandson says, "Well, grandfather, which wolf do you think is going to win?" To which the grandfather replies, "Whichever one I choose to feed." Whichever one I choose to feed. Right now in this country, we do a wonderful job of feeding that wolf of violence among and within our young people. It's estimated by the time children finish sixth grade, they've seen 100,000 acts of violence on television. That today, 160,000 children are missing school because they are scared to go to school. 7 out of 10 Americans -- 70% of Americans -- feel that a Columbine-style school shooting is likely, or very likely, in their school this year. This is a wolf that we feed. And so the question is, What are we doing? What are doing to feed that wolf of kindness, of compassion, of peace? And that is the work of Peace Games. Our big idea is instead of looking at kids as problems that we have to go in and fix, what if we unleashed the creative power of young people to be positive agents for change in their community. And we do this by... Thank you. [audience applauds] I didn't plan for applause when I was practicing this and I've got a timer. We do this by integrating a K to 8 curriculum into elementary schools around the country. So kids get peace games the same way they get math, science, social studies every week, every year, for 9 years. Except what they're learning are the skills of cooperation, communication, and civic engagement, how to make a difference in their community. And across our schools -- and we've been doing this work for 15 years -- we've seen a 60% reduction in violence. So, a 60% reduction in fights, in assaults, in weapons, in guns, and knives, and gangs. But what I'm more excited about is we've seen a 75% increase in the pro-social behavior of kids. So kids at a Peace Games school are more likely to resolve a conflict peacefully, to engage another kid in an activity, and to take a stand when one of their classmates is being teased or made fun of. Feeding that wolf of goodness. Right now we do this work in Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Fairbanks, Alaska. We have a partnership with the government of Colombia and we serve 2500 schools in South America, and a small partnership in South Africa. But it's not enough. See, we've gotten really good at thinking about how to change the behavior of kids, but what we need to figure out is how we change the way that adults think about young people. And so our next big project that we are excited to get ready to launch is a Youth Peace Prize. So if you can imagine a Nobel Peace Prize for kids, a nationwide search for young people who've transformed their communities in some really powerful ways, and lifting those stories up into the media. You know, young people who've reclaimed brownfields in their neighborhoods, young people who've brought together black and Latino gangs and created peace treaties. 70% of adults in this country have a negative image of young people. And only 1% of news stories about young people focus on their role as change agents. And that is what we want to change. I want to end with one final story and it's a Sufi story, about a pilgrim who's praying beneath a tree, and as he's praying, a beggar walks by and asks him for food. He gets back into his prayers, and a couple of minutes later a woman and her daughter who've been displaced by war and are looking for a home walk by. And, finally, losing his concentration he raises his hands to God and says, "God, how is it that you can look down on all this misery and not do anything?" To which God replies, "I did do something. I made you." And that is our challenge. That is our challenge. To figure out how to feed that wolf of kindness, of justice, of compassion. Not only among and with young people, but within ourselves. Thank you. This work is licensable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License. For details please visit: POP!TECH For more Pop!Casts, information on Pop!Tech or to learn how to participate, visit

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 21 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pop!Tech
Director: Pop!Tech
Views: 105
Posted by: beth on Nov 20, 2008

Eric Dawson a Pop!Tech Social innovation fellow speaks about the peace games at Pop!Tech 2008

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