which way to peace?
Which way to peace?
THE NATURE OF PEACE EDUCATION
In the first classroom students are discussing the nature of peace. In particular, in small groups they are identifying and sharing personal experiences of peace: moments of joy, shared endeavour, giving and receiving, creating and celebrating. They then brainstorm some of the main obstacles to peace: fear, prejudice, aggression, indoctrination. Later the students engage in a series of activities aimed at developing their interpersonal skills, especially those to do with listening to, communicating with, and affirming others.
The second classroom is empty. Having learned how to analyse and resolve some of the everyday conflicts that arise in class, students are turning their attention to conflicts in the local community. They have gone to the public library to look at back copies of the local newspaper. Their specific task is to research a current issue of urban redevelopment so that later they may themselves propose alternative solutions to the planning department.
In the third classroom students are reading comics. In particular they are analysing popular images of war and the different ways in which men and women react to violent conflict. One group feels that women are always the victims, not the perpetrators, of war. They are thus shortly to prepare for a class debate; the motion is that 'It is male society which profits most from war'.
In the fourth classroom students are Iying on the floor with their eyes closed. The teacher is leading them through a guided fantasy in which they imagine the world as they would like it to be in thirty years' time. Afterwards they record their visions in words and drawings. They then work backwards from the future to the present, listing the steps and changes that had to occur to bring their preferred future about.
In the last classroom students are engaged in a discussion about nuclear issues. They are involved in a role-play which explores six viewpoints on defence and disarmament, and they have short briefing papers on each of the following positions: Conservative, Labour, Alliance, CND, Peace Pledge Union. Later they will assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of each case.
What these glimpses all have in common is a shared process, that is an attempt to maintain consistency between means and ends: 'There is no way to peace, peace is the way'. The stress in education for peace is thus as much on method as on content. This can best be illustrated by consideration of appropriate curriculum objectives. A visual summary of such objectives is given in FIgure 2 and elaborated on in Table 2.
From this list of objectives it can be seen that the substantive subject matter of education for peace can be grouped under ten broad headings. As stated previously, however, it is rare to find such issues taught as a separate subject on the timetable. If, however, this does occur it can quite correctly be designated as peace studies. More often, however, such issues are taught at different times and different places in the timetable. If this is occurring as a result of conscious curriculum choices, the correct term to use is peace education or, as many would prefer, the more specific education for peace. The place and form of such topics in the curriculum will vary according to the age of students and the subject that is being taught. Good subject-based examples of education for peace are now beginning to appear, as in Fien and Gerber's Teaching Geography for a Better World (1988). Education for peace, however, is equally about the development of a range of attitudes and skills as set out in Table 2. The attitudes are a reminder that we must each begin with ourselves, that children need their own peace of mind and self-respect before they can be concerned about others. The strong sense of fairness that many students have can, given appropriate learning experiences, become part of a commitment to justice, to caring for the planet, to becoming involved in political as well as personal change.
But together with the knowledge and attitudes it is the skills that are at the essential core of education for peace. Whatever one is teaching on the timetable these skills can be developed. It is essential in a democratic society that students develop the skill of critical thinking so that they are able to weigh up various arguments in order to make informed choices. It is essential that they are able to recognise propaganda for what it is, whether from a government or a pressure group, and be alert to hidden bias, for example racism, sexism, militarism, both in the media and in teaching materials. Similarly, being able to co-operate and empathise makes conflict resolution more possible and the classroom climate more creative. Being clear about one's needs and able to relate assertively rather than aggressively is also at the heart of good education for peace. Such matters need to be pursued across the curriculum by both subject specialists and generalist teachers. They are equally important at both primary and secondary level. They are also, of course, extremely pertinent to issues involving the school as a community and in the community, whether in relation to staff-student relationships, staff-staff relationships, or vandalism, crime, and football violence.
If one is teaching for peace and not merely about peace, a close relationship needs to exist between ends and means, content and form. If one is concerned about developing self-respect, appreciation of others, concepts of justice and nonviolence, they must also be part of the process of learning itself. This puts the teacher in the role of a facilitator rather than in authority, creating a personcentred learning climate which involves much more than just the intellect. Such a climate will encourage participatory and experiential learning, it will involve democracy in action through the development of social and political skills in the classroom. Such approaches to education have been admirably set out by Carl Rogers (1983) and Brian Wren (1986). The most practical exposition for teachers is to be found in Donna Brandes and Paul Ginnis A Guide to Student-Centred Learning (1986).
Table 2 Checklist of objectives
2 Co-operation Students should be able to appreciate the value of co-operating on shared tasks and be able to work co-operatively with other individuals and groups in order to achieve a common goal.
3 Empathy Students should be able to imagine sensitively the viewpoints and feelings of other people, particularly those belonging to groups, cultures, and nations other than their own.
4 Assertiveness Students should be able to communicate clearly and assertively with others, that is not in an aggressive way, which denies the rights of others, or in a non-assertive manner which denies their own rights.
5 Conflict resolution Students should be able to analyse different conflicts in an objective and systematic way and be able to suggest a range of solutions to them. Where appropriate they should be able to implement solutions themselves.
6 Political literacy Students should be developing the ability to influence decision-making thoughtfully, both within their own lives and in their local community, and also at national and international levels.
2 Respect for others Students should have a sense of the worth of others, particularly of those with social, cultural, and family backgrounds different from their own.
3 Ecological concern Students should have a sense of respect for the natural environment and our overall place in the web of life. They should also have a sense of responsibility for both the local and global environment.
4 Open-mindedness Students should be willing to approach different sources of information, people, and events with a critical but open mind.
5 Vision Students should be open to and value various dreams and visions of what a better world might look like, not only in their own community but also in other communities, and in the world as a whole.
6 Commitment to justice Students should value genuinely democratic principles and processes and be ready to work for a more just and peaceful world at local, national, and international levels.
2 Peace Students should study different concepts of peace, both as a state of being and as an active process, on scales from the personal to the global. They should look at examples of the work of individuals and groups who are actively working for peace.
3 War Students should explore some of the key issues and ethical dilemmas to do with conventional war. They should look at the effects of militarism on both individuals nd groups and on scales ranging from the local to the global.
4 Nuclear issues Students should learn about a wide range of nuclear issues and be aware of the key viewpoints on defence and disarmament. They should understand the effects of nuclear war and appreciate the efforts of individuals, groups, and governments to work towards a nuclear-free world.
5 Justice Students should study a range of situations illustrating injustice, on scales from the personal to the global. They should look at the work of individuals and groups involved in the struggle for justice today.
6 Power Students should study issues to do with power in the world today and ways in which its unequal distribution affects people's life chances. They should explore ways in which people and groups have regained power over their own lives.
7 Gender Students should study issues to do with discrimination based on gender. They should understand the historical background to this and the ways in which sexism operates to the advantage of men and the disadvantage of women.
8 Race Students should study issues to do with discrimination based on race. They should understand the historical background to this and the ways in which racism operates to the advantage of white people and to the disadvantage of black.
9 Environment Students should have a concern for the environmental welfare of all the world's people and the natural systems on which they depend. They should be able to make rational judgements concerning environmental issues and participate effectively in environmental politics.
10 Futures Students should study a range of alternative futures, both probable and preferable. They should understand which scenarios are most likely to lead to a more just and less violent world and what changes are necessary to bring this about.
From: Understanding the Field by David Hicks in EDUCATION FOR PEACE ed David Hicks
P E A C E P L E D G E U N I O N 1 Peace Passage London N7 0BT, Britain.