|Harak letter||Page 3|
A letter from Phil Harak, high school teacher in Connecticut, USA
As far as the Seville Statement: I have used it in several arenas: First, in the courses that I co-wrote in school. For example, in our World Literature course, the central framing question is, “Are there universally shared human characteristics which form the basis of a common human nature?” In our examination of literature and film, certainly the issue of conflict arises. Students come with the (erroneous) notion that humans are essentially violent. I use the Seville Statement as a supplementary document to challenge their own and some literary characters' assumptions.
I have also used it in the Honors British Literature course I co-wrote. There, the issue of violent conflict resolution arises frequently. I have used it as a new text during either the Midterm or Final Exams, where students have an article through which they can reevaluate earlier course work and or personal assumptions. Again, it is a valuable article to supply scholarly evidence to support or challenge beliefs. All this is part of a plan to instill sound critical thinking skills, and to present a broader perspective.
At other times, instead of an exam exercise, I have used it as a supplementary text when considering Swift's Gulliver's Travels, in which he makes some powerful statements about the nature of humanity, as you will recall!
I have also used it in the past when preparing students for their work as Peer Mediators in the school. A few years ago a few colleagues and I began that program there, and I thought it would be good for them to know that information as part of a theoretical base for their skills building.
I liked it so much that I referred to it in a chapter I wrote, entitled, "Nonviolence in the Schools: Programs in Conflict Resolution," in the (very good!) book titled, Nonviolence for the Third Millenium, edited by my brother, Rev. G. Simon Harak, S.J., Ph.D; Mercer University Press, 2000, p.186.