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Empowering young people through safe space in the classroom

Emotions have run high in the past two months as British teenagers who feel a sense of identification with, or sympathy for, the people of Palestine or Israel have naturally needed to respond to the intense emotions they are experiencing. How can schools provide the support and empowerment that these students need?

Our guides to avoiding hate speech and creating safe and compassionate spaces for learning on this topic are available here and here. In addition, we recommend three E’s that lie at the heart of our education programme: Exploration, Empathy and Empowerment.

Exploration involves looking at diverse news and media outlets on the topic and speaking to people who take opposing positions in order to understand why they hold those positions.

Empathy comes from humanisation of the people from the civil society in Israel and Palestine and the breaking of stereotypes. This can be done via personal stories in literature and film, or through the opportunity to actually meet and talk to people such as we provide in our programme, which schools find hugely inspiring and exciting for their students.

Empowerment is providing both the space and the skills for young people to take action towards a just and peaceful solution for Palestinians and Israelis. When driven by the values of non-violence, equality for all and the rejection of hatred, their activism will be a force for good, not harm.

The outcomes for schools in taking this approach is that student wellbeing needs can be met a safe space for activism and discussion, the opportunity for broad and deep learning on the issue, humanisation - both for each other as fellow students and for their peers in Israel-Palestine, and empowerment as they see their teachers put confidence in them and give them the opportunity to form their own opinions about Israel-Palestine.

If you would like more information about our work and how we can support schools, please visit our website www.solutionsnotsides.co.uk

Sharon Booth, Founder & Executive Director - SNS

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