Forgiveness Education

Primary 3 students at Holy Family Primary School in Belfast, Northern Ireland, celebrate their Forgiveness Programme graduation.
Primary 3 students at Holy Family Primary School in Belfast celebrate their Forgiveness Programme graduation.

We’ve developed a forgiveness education curriculum for each grade in Pre-kindergarten (age 4) through 12th grade (ages 17-18) classrooms. We build one new teacher guide a year so we can assure that it is of the highest educational quality and incorporates the most appropriate resource materials for that age group.

The curriculum encompasses 12 to 16 lesson plans (one-half to one hour or less per week for each lesson) that teach students about respect, inherent worth, empathy, all in the context of forgiveness. Books, DVDs, stuffed animals and other materials are included to help teachers achieve success.

 

The International Forgiveness Institute educational programs have reached more than 25,000 students in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as well as in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Milwaukee, 68% of teachers using the curriculum observed that students decreased in their level of anger and increased in their academic achievement. In addition, 95% of teachers thought their classrooms functioned better because of the forgiveness curriculum. That same percentage said they actually became better teachers and better people through teaching about forgiveness.

Read more about the amazingly positive results of the four most recent teacher surveys in central-city Milwaukee.

Both public and private schools in Madison, Wisconsin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Belfast, Northern Ireland, are currently teaching forgiveness education with funding and guidance provided directly by the International Forgiveness Institute. Click on the city names above to see a complete list of participatin g schools and classrooms in those locations.


The Forgiveness Education Program is also being taught at schools in many other Wisconsin cities, in 18 other U.S. states, and in more than 30 countries outside the U.S.

 

Social Emotional Learning

Forgiveness Education, with its focus on recognizing and validating students’ anger as well as teaching students to express emotions in a way, understand the perspective of others, recognize the humanity in all, and increase empathy and compassion, is one form of social-emotional learning (SEL) that is currently being investigated and implemented by researchers and educators (Enright., Knutson, Holter., Baskin, & Knutson, 2007; Freedman, 2018).

Helping students develop empathy toward others is a key strategy in bullying prevention and intervention and according to a recent NY Times article (Brody, 2018), it is critical that we help kids develop empathy early in their lives. Social emotional learning programs that include a focus on empathy and regulation of emotions are being recognized as an important part of the school curriculum for all students (Zakrzeski, 2014) and based on recent statistics, there is a need for more SEL programs in schools today.

Read the amazing results of Dr. Suzanne Freedman's forgiveness education initiatives (including SEL programs) with 5th graders. The results of Dr. Robert Enright's more than 35-years of forgiveness education researcg are outlined on this website's Research page.
 

Does forgiveness education work?

Here’s what successful businessman turned film maker Patrick Wells said:

"Teaching the art and power of forgiveness to children may be both the best and the fastest way to positively change our world. I believe the Belfast experiment should be expanded to first grade classes in every elementary school in the world. The results speak for themselves, as violent crime in Belfast has fallen dramatically in the past ten years."


Read the article “Embracing Forgiveness Education to Reshape our World” by Patrick Wells. Read more and see samples of the Curriculum Guides on our Curriculum Page.

Read "How Forgiveness Benefits Kids"


The International Forgiveness Institute is proud to partner with Florida-based non-profit organization Forgive4Peace (formerly called Possumus International) on a variety of projects. It's mission is to "promote forgiveness education at home, at school and at work for the sake of world peace." According to Rosemary Kite, Founder and President of Forgive4Peace, "Forgiveness fills the gap between our world’s unrest and world peace. All education fosters peace. Forgiveness education brings peace."

Check out their new initiative called "The Home Forgiveness Education Award." You could win $500.

Become a "Peace Builder" by signing The Forgiveness Pledge.