SPRING 2015 |index
|Worling together in peace education|
|Many of you will know of the work of the Peace Education Network, PEN, whose overall aim is to bring together organisations that are involved in peace education. The Peace Pledge Union is part of this Network which more specifically aims to share resources, ideas and good practice, look at common areas of interest, share updates and news, work on joint projects and share skills.
PEN met for its third and final meeting of the year in Sheffield on 19 June and as you can imagine colleagues have a lot of shared concerns at the moment, not least that relating to the increasing involvement of the military in our state schools as a quite obvious strategy of recruitment to the armed forces is being pursued. It was therefore apposite that that in the afternoon Ben Griffiths from Veterans for Peace took Network members through the rather moving presentation that he has developed for secondary schools to enable pupils to have a raised awareness of the reality of life in the army; a reality that is much different from the propaganda being promoted by the armed forces and worryingly the Government itself in its British Armed Forces: Learning Resource 2014.
This latter resource kicks off with a Foreword by David Cameron, Prime Minister, and has been promoted to all schools by the Department of Education with a stated aim “to educate children about the work of the armed forces”. In fact this “resource” is of very poor quality and is in effect a politically driven attempt to promote recruitment into the armed forces and military values in our schools. Our colleagues in Forces Watch have published a report, A Critical Response to the British Armed Forces: Learning Resource 2014, which is well worth a read and can be found at http; www.forceswatch.net/. This report can be viewed in conjunction with a short video, The British Armed Forces: Propaganda in the classroom? produced by Quaker Peace and Social Witness that can be accessed at the same site.
Concerns about the increasing influence of the military in our schools , the sometime lack of a balanced educational perspective regarding Remembrance alongside an assumed view of the inevitability of War is not limited to the people in the organisations that make up the Peace Education Network but is shared by many hard pressed teachers working in our schools throughout the UK. The Peace Pledge Union is taking a lead in the organisation of a PEN, Peace Education Conference for teachers that was agreed at the June meeting in, will take place in Birmingham in the autumn of 2016. The Conference currently has three draft aims: a. to support, encourage and inspire educators in the practice of peace education. b.to enable participants to identify how and where interventions can be made in the Curriculum to ensure that teaching and learning about peace and related issues. c. to enable the sharing of good practice in relation to teaching and learning about peace and related issues.
A PEN Conference Steering Group has been established and meetings will be held in forthcoming months to progress arrangements. Topics for individual sessions have yet to be confirmed but may include some of the following: teaching peace in the centenary of World War 1, teaching Peace in assemblies, remembrance, role of the armed forces in UK education in the 21st century, nuclear disarmament peer mediation and conflict resolution.
The Peace Pledge Union and PEN acknowledge that teachers have very busy and stressful jobs whilst they operate within the constraints of a narrowing Curriculum that is dominated by assessment targets and the constant threat of punitive Ofsted Inspections. That said, it is important that teachers are supported in the delivery of a progressive pedagogy that amongst other things seeks to provide a balance against the spread of reactionary educational practice and an increasing acceptance of a militarist ethos. This forthcoming Conference hopes to provide some of that support and we will keep you updated as our proposals are firmed up. In the meantime if you have any queries, interest in or indeed ideas about this Conference don’t hesitate to contact Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org