Symposium on Humanistic Education Held at Teachers College, Columbia University, USA
On June 15, 2007, student members of Buddhism for Global Peace at Columbia University, New York, New York, sponsored a symposium titled "Humanistic Education: Transforming the Culture of Violence." The event was held at Milbank Chapel, Teachers College, Columbia University. Eleven years ago on June 13, 1996, also at Teachers College, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda delivered a lecture titled "Thoughts on Education for Global Citizenship." The symposium, attended by some 50 Columbia University students as well as faculty and students from a nearby high school, commemorated the 1996 lecture. Monte Joffee, founder and principal of the Renaissance Charter School delivered the keynote address. The symposium's goal, as stated by the organizers, was to raise awareness that the overwhelming violence that society's youth now witness is a global concern for all of humanity. The evening's lecture and discussion explored the role of education in transforming this prevailing culture of violence into a culture of peace.
In his lecture, Dr. Joffee focused on the profound influence of teachers. He quoted from Mr. Ikeda's 1996 lecture, saying, "the teacher is the most important element of the educational environment." To effect positive change in education and in society, each teacher's personal transformation is crucial. Dr. Joffee cited several of Mr. Ikeda's education and peace proposals that outline concrete steps that educators can take to transform their interactions with students in the classroom, which Mr. Ikeda referred to as "a garden that challenges their [the teacher's] growth."
The program concluded with questions and answers and a group discussion.
[Adapted from a report from Dr. Monte Joffee and an article in the July 5, 2007 issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai Japan]