This is a sample of the curriculum. To learn more and view the entire curriculum, please contact the Atrium Society.
To view the Mini Curriculum for ages 8-12, visit the Atrium Society MAP S.T.A.R.S.
The following is from a song in a musical play called South Pacific. It was written more than 60 years ago. The words — most often called “the lyric” — are by Oscar Hammerstein, II. There is music, by Richard Rodgers, written for this lyric, written by Oscar Hammerstein. In many ways, the world has changed a lot in the last 60 years, and in other ways it hasn’t changed at all.
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
ou’ve got to be carefully taught...
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
©1949 Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, II
The lessons that follow can be taught in 20-minute lessons. However, your students’ ability to understand, experience and practice the material in the lessons will be greatly enhanced by your ability to spend time doing the exercises and activities in the addendums created for each lesson. It’s essential for students to grasp a lesson before moving on to the next one, or they may miss a point if the lesson is taught too quickly. Each lesson has an exercise or a roleplay, which greatly enhance a student’s grasp about bullying – more so than even the lessons themselves, although when done together, learning is heightened. The reason is that they will be involved by doing apart from listening. The roleplays allow students to play parts in scripted roleplays, like actors in a play, which helps them learn to develop their own roleplays – in school and in their lives – as they develop this process of learning. The advantage of a roleplay is that is provides students direct experience, which increases their ability to understand.
Where Did Prejudice Begin? Do your students believe they have no prejudices? They may be surprised to learn that they do – and when they do, will they be willing to keep them, change them – talk about them? Are they willing to look at the roots of their prejudices? Little children don’t have them, so where do they come from? Millions of people have died because of prejudice, simply because they didn’t understand it. Story: “The Roots of Prejudice” helps students see how practices become habits, beliefs and traditions, making for “conditioned” thinking. Students can explore tribe-like situations that exist today, and talk about whether they enhance security or threaten it. Today, we need to understand physical survival and psychological survival – and how they are two parts of one whole. Students can review the Four Stages of Learning – we think, we remember, we observe and we talk. When students experience the Tools provided, their learning is ensured.their lives – as they develop this process of learning. The advantage of a roleplay is that is provides students direct experience, which increases their ability to understand.
What We’re Taught To Believe. These days there are many news reports about clashes between races, religions and cultures – so many that it’s difficult to pay attention to them all. Which ones affect students most? How do they distinguish between belief and understanding? Learning how to protect ourselves from fear, ignorance and everyday pressures takes us to a high level of understanding and ability to survive. Prejudice hurts not only the person bullied, but also the bully. And such acts come from acting before thinking. Students can learn to question everything they see and hear – asking who, what, where, how and why leads them to facts rather than opinions. Prejudice is judging before we have all the right information – and is usually based on believing that a person or group is “different” from us, which comes from not understanding someone’s thoughts or actions. We ask: What does it mean to be “different”? Is “different” always bad? What makes “different” unappealing? Conflicts happen every day. Imagine how much prejudice must exit to create a tremendous conflict like war. Using the Tools and Roleplay enhances learning these principles in a positive way – allowing students to have fun while they’re learning.
Our Mechanical Brain. When we hear or read something shocking, do we protect ourselves by not looking or hearing, or do we decide we need to learn something that could be helpful to us by watching, listening and talking? It can be difficult to decide whether we want to protect ourselves from a situation, or learn from it. Learning about prejudice requires a mind that looks without judgment at root-causes of it. Once we know how prejudice happens, we can prevent it. The “Four Bricks” Tool helps students understand their “conditioned” thinking. Prejudice is a mechanical difficulty in the brain. It programs us to act in hurtful ways that create conflict. Is the only way to resolve a conflict a fight, where someone wins and someone loses? Thought + Image in our minds = Message in our minds, which creates a Feeling. Such a Thought/Feel stays in our minds, re-surfacing any time a similar conflict emerges – much like a movie projector projects an image onto a screen. We have to ask: Is the image real? Is the image happening any other place than in our brain? All the time we are judging, we are not understanding. There are five scientific modes of understanding: 1) Remain cool and calm. 2) Explore all parts of the situation to have every possible perspective. 3) Think about whether the parts make up a whole. 4) Question everything without judging. 5) Test your findings to make sure they are factual. Use the Tools to ensure high-powered learning!
The Prejudice Within. Prejudice begins inside us. This means that we have the power to change any prejudice inside us, basically by changing our focus. Show students how to create a “Stopping Place” inside them – a place where they make decisions. A signpost inside that place is: All rumors stop here! When we compare ourselves to others, or compare a person with another, we instantly create conflict, by creating programmed images that aren’t real. Conflict inside us becomes conflict we share outside us. When we create distinctions among people, we separate people instead of bringing them together. Some forms of prejudice have to do with skin color, age, race, nationality, culture, belief system, gender, social class, occupation, physical disability and/or body size. We need to focus on what people have in common – how we are alike. The Tools help students recognize their need to be right about some things – and to see prejudice in action!
When We’re Asleep, We Can’t See. Reading the story “Shadows of the Past” begins students’ journey into how prejudiced thinking can put our brains to sleep. When that happens, we react to situations as if they were real, unaware that we’ve been hypnotized in some way. “Waking Up” Tool aids in making this point clear. Prejudice is like a bad dream that’s been passed from one generation to the next. While it may appear scary to students to let go of something they and their families have always believed, they are likely to come to understand that walking through a fear can awaken them to new and exciting realizations. To understand prejudice, we must question our conditioning. When we see that we have been asleep, we can wake up! “Similarities Instead of Differences” is a great wake-up Tool. We begin to see how distorted fearful images can create great conflict. The Ten Mental Steps to War are in a simple but clear chart that helps student scientists test their data. We want to help students get away from sleep-walking through life, acting on images they are conditioned to believe, and creating enemies that exist only in their brains.
The Bells and Knots of Conditioning. The “fight or flight” response exists in human beings to protect us from harm, to survive. It is a healthy and natural response to real danger. When we’re scared, we either want to fight, or run away. When we’re prejudiced, instead of acting based on what we’re actually seeing, we react based on something in the past that scared us. Tool “Do I Fight or Do I Run?” helps students understand how the react instead of act. Pavlov’s Dogs is a student favorite when they hear about how a bell conditioned dogs to react by salivating when they expected food. It’s similar to the kind of “bell” that rings inside us when someone says or does something that causes us to react instead of act from our own thinking. “Taught By His Students” reveals how Professor Skinner learned an important lesson from his students! The Mobius Strip appears to have to beginning and no end, and serves as an example of a prejudice knot – one that cannot be untied. Unless we become aware that we may be caught in a loop in our brain, we could stay looped in prejudicial thinking forever! The Prejudice Knot begins with a basic statement of information that isn’t true. The information catches on and keeps heading in the wrong direction, spreading as it goes. It creates a feeling: “I can’t trust them.” “They” and “them” become the enemy. Using the Tool that accompanies this knot provides thoughts that students may have not thought before, and helps them realize that they, themselves, need to take responsibility in certain conflict situations.
Elements of Knot-Like Thinking. Beginning with the Tool “Our Forgotten Ancestors Are Us!” triggers student awareness of how things they believe have been passed down among their families and friends. Once we become aware of the data in our mental computer that causes us to become prejudiced, we are on our way! There are Seven Elements of knot-like thinking: 1) Repetition – saying and/or hearing the same thing over and over again. 2) Comparison – this leads to thinking in terms of “them vs. us”. 3) Projection – this is “throwing” an image in our minds onto some other person or thing. 4) Identification – becoming part of a group in order to belong. 5) Authority – the power to command, demand obedience, and enforce laws. 6) Reinforcement – rewarding behavior with words or actions to achieve an effect. 7) Belief – unquestioning acceptance of something, with no proof as to whether or not it’s true. How can we tell the difference between someone who knows what’s best for us, and someone who wants to condition us into believing his or her “truth”? From the time we’ve very young, we are conditioned to accept authority as a matter of fact. When we get proper guidance to help us make informed decisions is when we’re getting a real education. Every Tool in this lesson reinforces learning.
Concepts That Numb the Brain. When we read or hear news reports about conflicts all over the world, we tend to feel that the Human Race has not developed much since we were cave creatures. Are we too programmed, too conditioned to see that if no one identified with any “side,” there would be no conflict, no violence? Our journey of discovery has taught us that there’s a difference between fact and opinion, that our brains are programmed to create false images, that fear can create false images in our brains and that conditioning helps us hold on to these images, that hatred is our own invention, and that it’s important to learn to ACT instead of REACT in threatening situations. In this lesson we explore the use of words – how they can make us feel good, or make us angry. The Tools help students get very good at seeing prejudice in action – in others and in themselves. Words reveal our prejudices. When we are aware of someone judging rather than expressing a fact, we can see that this person is hurt in some way. When we recognize someone hurt, we can stop conflict right on the spot – by recognizing that we do not have to fight that person, or run away from that person. All we have to do is stop and understand that person.
Generalizations Are Misleading. Have students every made an assumption about a person, place or thing, based on past experience with another person, place or thing? Is this lazy thinking – actually a form of prejudice? When we make generalizations, we are reacting instead of acting. A stereotype is a generalization that is an oversimplified opinion, attitude or judgment. So is bigotry, which is an intolerance of people who are different. And so is discrimination, judging others as inferior. Another form of prejudice is scapegoating – making someone bear the blame of others – which creates conflict. Is it possible that our families and friends have taught us to think in some old ways that may create conflict? The people who taught us are not bad people – they are simply people who were taught these ways by their families and friends. Old ways of thinking are like shadows that follow us. But we can peel the skin of these prejudices by taking responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. Tools “Simple, General Images,” “Quality Time” and “The Same Root” cause students to think deeply about their perceptions.
Prejudice at Its Worst. The word “race” was originally meant to define people in a positive way – to classify who we are, what group we might belong to. How, do you think, “race” turned into “racism”? Racism occurs when one group of people believe that they are superior to another group of people. It has existed for centuries, and is still alive today. Such prejudice can create great suffering. The Tool “The Meaning of Race” helps students understand their own perceptions. Genocide is a crime against a group. Individual members are dehumanized, reduced to numerical statistics. In the name of genocide, all normal constraints against killing human beings are set aside in the name of a so-called “higher” aim, but these aims are never high. What would cause a group of people to purposely create the organized destruction of another group of people? The effect of prejudiced thoughts, feelings and words is unending conflict, and the most disturbing effect is the devastation of millions of people. The Tools “Catastrophe” and “Show Me Prejudice” are instrumental learning practices.
The Problem with Perfection. Most of us are taught to act according to certain rules and regulations. If some of these ways don’t agree with thoughts inside us, we feel conflicted. The conflict we feel is between the “ideal” of being good, and the “judgment” that we’re not living up to the ideal. The fact is: No one is perfect. The ideal of perfection is a false image. Trying to be perfect creates conflict between who we’re trying to be and who we really are. Understanding leads us to an intelligent life, where we recognize how we’ve been conditioned and work to change our prejudices so we don’t create conflict. It is difficult to understand that more than 150 million people were killed in wars from 1900 to 1993 – all because of one thing: prejudice. Today, fighting to be “the most powerful” works against our security because it creates conflict between people and keeps us from acting as a single tribe, a single race – the human race. While we often feel safer as a member of a group, we must question any organized belief system to find out for ourselves if the belief system is true or false, healthy or destructive. If we don’t understand prejudice at its roots and end it before it becomes a problem, then we’re destined to pass our prejudices on, in the same way they were passed on to us. The Tools help students work in groups to better understand the dynamic of group situations.
Preventing Peace. When we can see what it means to be in conflict, we have already begun to understand why we don’t act peacefully. Do we feel angry, or bad about ourselves, when we are forced to do or be anything? If we no longer create tribe-like groups or organizations, is this a step toward preventing conflict? When we can see the difference between a fact and an opinion, we eliminate thinking that prevents peace from happening. When we can see that all the images we have of others are created by our own minds, we clear the way for peace. We can’t make peace happen, but we can clear paths to help it happen. When we can see that there is no “right” and no “wrong” and that there is only “a problem that needs resolution,” we are on our way to peace. When we realize that we are the ones who keep hatred alive inside us, then hatred stops in its tracks. When we can recognize elements of knot-like thinking in our own brains, we are living peacefully. When we get proper guidance to help us make informed decisions, then we’re getting a real education. And when all nations understand that fighting to be the most powerful creates conflict, all that prevents peace will fade away. The Tools in this lesson seal in the learning necessary to grasp these concepts. “You can change the world when you think for yourself. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”
The Anatomy of Respect. Let’s create a character in real life who lives every day as best as this character can! This person is not perfect, but this person is respectful, non-judging and intelligent. What language and training would this respectful human need to learn? What name shall we give her or him? Let’s divide into groups to create words, thoughts and feelings, education, conditioning, actions, influences and interests. Students are given 30 minutes to complete their creation, after which they will report their findings. Was this fun? Educational? Easy? Difficult? Enjoyable? Challenging? Would you want to be this person? What human faults would you like to give this person? Is this a person you would want as a friend? Do you think being a respectful human being is important?
The Art of Insight. What would it be like if we had doctors who specialize in curing prejudice? When someone may want to teach us that war will protect us from “the enemy,” that war is created to bring about peace, or that war is unhealthy for all living things, how do we know what to believe? Can we detect prejudice inside us in the same way a doctor can x-ray our body and detect a broken bone? There are three ways to deal with prejudice: avoid it, resolve it, manage it. When we avoid it, we stop it before it starts. When we resolve it, we’ve been unable to stop prejudice the moment it happens, but we see that it’s happened. We manage prejudice when a conflict created by it is already out of control and it’s too late to prevent or resolve. Managing is calming everyone down and picking up the pieces. For any conflict situation we’ve been involved in, it’s great to begin by asking oneself: Is it possible that I have somehow taken part in creating this problem? Whether or not we have taken part, what’s most important is taking some responsibility for managing it. Late sight: When we’re too far gone to see what created conflict or prejudice, but understand that it has happened. Hindsight: We recognize that an act of prejudice has occurred and that we can hopefully resolve it. Insight: When we recognize conflict or prejudice, right when it happens, so it can stop immediately! This is always our highest goal. As we get better at x-raying our thoughts, our ability to stop prejudice in its tracks improves. Tools “Brainstorming!”, “Avoid! Resolve! Manage!”, “Real Education” and the roleplay “The Path to Insight” are indispensable for giving students a strong sense of their ability to prevent prejudice.
Prejudice Is an Automatic Reaction. The story about Kaspar Hauser confirms that prejudice is not something we are born with. For us, even if a new behavior may be easier, it’s sometimes challenging to let go of our old, automatic behavior. What helps is becoming aware that our old way doesn’t work. This awareness creates a moment of “Stop! Think!” In this moment, old thinking stops and new thinking is allowed to happen. When new thinking has an open door to walk through, we can act in a new way. Three steps to new actions: 1) Become aware of new information that’s needed. 2) Concentrate on what’s new that needs to be done. 3) Focus on the new way until it’s understood. Any action we take not based on awareness is a REaction. The way we became conditioned in the first place took time and repetition. It may take time to change our habits. But we must not be afraid to stop in the middle of behavior that could prove destructive – to ourselves or anyone else. The Tool “Through Kasper’s Eyes” is enlightening for students. “From Automatic to Aware” allows students to express anger and recognize its effects. “Strips of Rips!” frees students to say something mean and then watching its results. “New Insights!” heals the pain, allowing students to focus on new ways of thinking that help achieve real understanding.
Thinking in New Ways. Would it be too ideal to live in a world where children can play with each other without fighting? Or in a world where there is no conflict? The country of Costa Rica, in Central America, has no army. All the money that could have been spent on the military goes toward education. For most countries, this would be a dream, but for Costa Rica, it is a reality. Students, at this point, are able to truly see prejudice in action and are educated enough to stop it before it begins. They are getting stronger and stronger in their ability to recognize mistaken information and fake programming. The Tools in this lesson give students more group work, as well as more exploration of scary thoughts that can be turned into “Stop! Think!” moments, where they choose between two paths – the path to conflict, and the path of peace. Until we question – really look at our reality in new ways – we will always see that reality in only one way. We don’t know we’ve been falsely programmed until we are given new information!
Perception Is Everything. As soon as we notice fearful false thinking, we need to inhale for two seconds, then exhale for four – and do this a few times. Then we need to ask ourselves four questions: 1) What’s the evidence? 2) Is this true? 3) Where did this come from? 4) Do I have to think this way? This is the path to the truth. Taking a “Stop! Think” moment, you may feel as if you’ve never had that new idea before – as if you’ve discovered something new in the world! In that moment, nothing exists but the moment itself – right where you are. In this moment, there is no conflict. You have stopped the world and gotten off it for a second! When we “Stop! Think!” we remove ourselves from conflict and we see the conflict and prepare to do something about it. Most people who know how to remain calm in stressful situations tend to have healthier, more peaceful lives than those who don’t. All we have to do is practice.
Rights and Responsibilities. We all have certain rights – in our family, at schools, in our community and in the world. It’s important to know what they are. These rights are not shared worldwide. Despite these rights, there are still prejudices in this country – in the press, what we see on television and through any kind of social media. In addition to our rights, in a democracy, we have responsibilities. For example, we have the right to freedom of speech. With this right comes the responsibility to use speech in an intelligent, constructive way, for the betterment of all humankind. If we use our right to freedom of speech irresponsibly, we devalue that right. If we need to make intelligent decisions about our life, we need to take the responsibility to ensure that we have accurate information so that we can make those decisions properly. While we have a right to our opinion, we need to accept the responsibility that goes with it to make sure we’re aware that our opinion may not be based on fact. The List of Proverbs is a tool that will engage students in looking at what they really believe.
Seeing the Big Picture. What feeds conditioned thinking is fear. When we recognize our fear, we have a “Stop! Think!” moment! Fear is sometimes difficult to recognize because it may be hiding. Anger comes from fear – which can stem from our selves or someone else. It all starts with a thought. Our thoughts affect how we feel. All of our conditioned behavior begins with a thought. The simple difference between being an angry bully and being a friendly person is how they think. Becoming free of prejudice is an ongoing process. We need to stay aware of conditioned reactions of any kind – our own as well as those of other people. By understanding the roots of our prejudices, we can end conflict. Tool “Scary Thoughts” helps students ask a lot of “What if…” questions. The game is light in tone so students can laugh together. This lesson includes an outside assignment, “The Essence of Democracy!”, that students will need to complete before the final, upcoming lesson.
The Discoveries We’ve Made. Our main goal is always to find out for ourselves what’s true. Without prejudice there can be no prejudice. There is only one enemy – the one we create in our brains. Prejudice ends when we can observe it in the making. Is anyone perfect? Can we reason with a bully? Can we use our brain instead of our fists? Does anger hide fear? Does it help to understand our fears? Do we need to accept our responsibilities along with our rights? Congratulate students after every lesson for their good work, but especially now after completing this curriculum. Tell them: “Be aware. You are the world, and the world is you. What you do affects everyone.”
1A. Activity: I Am Prejudiced! . . 7
1B. Activity: Threats to My Survival . . 8
1C. Activity: Words I Use When I’m Prejudiced . . 9
2A. Game: I Believe It! . . 15
2B. Roleplay: Judging Beforehand . . 16
2C. Activity: A Bag of Fears . . 18
3A. Activity: Four Bricks . . 26
3B. Activity: There’s a Mechanical Difficulty in My Brain . . 27
3C. Activity: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Feelings . . 28
4A. Activity: What a Difference a Word Makes! . . 33
4B. Activity: Programmed Images! . . 35
3C. Activity: The Need to Be Right! . . 36
5A. Activity: Waking Up! . . 43
5B. Activity: Similarities Instead of Differences . . 44
5C. Activity: The Art of Observation . . 45
6A. Roleplay: Do I Fight, or Do I Run? . . 52
6B. Activity: The Atomic Bomb Bell . . 54
6C. Activity: The Prejudice Knot . . 55
7A. Activity: Our Forgotten Ancestors Are Us! . . 64
7B. Activity: Elements of Knot-Like Thinking . . 66
7C. Activity: Conditioned Thought! Educated Thought! . . 67
8A. Activity: The Effect of Words . . 73
8B. Activity: Action or Reaction? . . 74
8C. Game: The Association Game . . 75
9A. Game: Simple, General Images . . 81
9B. Activity: Quality Time . . 82
9C. Activity: The Same Root! . . 83
10A. Activity: The Meaning of Race . . 89
10B. Activity: Catastrophe . . 90
10C. Activity: Show Me Prejudice! . . 91
11A. Activity: The Judgment and the Ideal . . 97
11B. Activity: Right for Everyone . . 99
11C. Roleplay: More Effects of Prejudice! . . 100
12A. Activity: Be Peaceful! . . 106
12B. Activity: What Prevents Peace . . 107
12C. Activity: A Quote to Note . . 108
Activity: The entire lesson is an activity
for all students.
14A. Activity: Brainstorming! . . 122
14B. Activity: Avoid! Resolve! Manage! . . 123
14C. Roleplay: Real Education! . . 124
15A. Activity: Through Kaspar’s Eyes . . 130
15B. Activity: From Automatic to Aware . . 132
15C. Activity: New Insights! . . 134
16A. Activity: New Possibilities! . . 139
16B. Activity: Which Path Do I Take? . . 141
16C. Story: Shadows of Images! . . 144
17A. Activity: The Path to the Truth . . 151
17B. Game: Stop the World! . . 153
17C. Activity: I Understand! . . 154
18A. Activity: My Right! . . 160
18B. Activity: My Responsibility! . . 161
18C. Game: The Source of My Prejudice! . . 164
19A. Game: Scary Thoughts! . . 170
19B. Activity: Realistic Thoughts! . . 171
19C. Activity: The Essence of a Democracy! . . 173