The values of Peace Education

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In an analysis of the work of Elise Boulding, Morrison (2008) describes peace education as having “embraced the idea of connectedness, caring and the importance of thinking globally and acting locally”. In order to think and act in unison, peace education needed to evolve into something more dynamic than a mere process of divulging information on war and peace.

In an analysis of the work of Elise Boulding, Morrison (2008) describes peace education as having “embraced the idea of connectedness, caring and the importance of thinking globally and acting locally”. In order to think and act in unison, peace education needed to evolve into something more dynamic than a mere process of divulging information on war and peace. This can be described as the combination of both the explicit and the implicit curriculum, not only processing the facts as discovered through a multitude of peace research, but also the creation of a culture of peace within the classroom. For Brantmeier (2003) it represented a wholly “realist and visionary enterprise, alluring and inviting both the pragmatist and the idealist”. Peace education is thus a tale of two stories in which the utopian images represent the driving force behind concrete action plans, and is both “dynamic in the sense of presenting a time perspective and static in the sense of giving an image of such major factors as the war system and the preparation for war” (Galtung, 2008). If the overarching aim of medicine is to heal the patient, then the fundamental premise behind peace education is to heal the world.

 

Peace education provides a sense of holistic empowerment to the students. It is holistic in a way that permeates every aspect of the school curriculum. According to Reardon (1999), it is “found in a wide range of learning environments practiced by educators with varying concerns and perspectives”. A myriad of teaching approaches are intertwined towards a set of common goals, and these strategies are applied to all students, irrespective of factors such as developmental stage or social background. By involving a wide range of methodologies, a process of empowerment takes place on behalf of both teacher and student. These two parties are given the opportunity to actively take part and analyze the system within an action-oriented framework that emphasizes social change and non-violence. With this power, the key agents begin to fashion alternate futures by eventually turning non-violent strategies into a reality. The teacher and the student embark upon a reciprocal relationship that hinges on some fundamental tenets, for instance: respect by providing a voice to the other and listening to that voice, collaborative problem solving and betterment projects, and conflict resolution through mutual trust and the nurturing of empathy. In his encapsulation of peace education, Page (2008) refers to the work of Harris when he states that the end results are: teaching encounters that draw out from people desires for peace and provide them with non-violent alternatives for many conflicts, as well as the skills for critical analysis of the structural arrangements that legalize and produce injustice and inequality”. Holistic empowerment culminates in profound social inquiry; something that Nola (2005) believes should be “carried out by anyone, anytime regardless of culture, social standing, system of belief or whatever”.

 

In an exploitative world of stark contrasts relating to injustice and violence, peace education reflects a concerted effort to formulate a more sustainably human society. This brand of education employs strategies that go hand in hand with non-violence, and ultimately strives to instill into the students a holistic respect for human dignity and the subsequent skill-set capable of dealing with and resolving many of life’s conflicts. As Reardon (1999) writes, it is the:

 

[…] transmission of knowledge about the requirement of obstacles to and possibility for achieving and maintaining peace, training in skills for interpreting the knowledge, and the development of reflective and participatory capacities for applying the knowledge to overcome problems and achieving possibilities.

 

That being said, peace education reflects the dreams and aspirations of the people in the creation of a less violent world.

 

Awareness is of fundamental importance in life, and peace education is designed to nurture this in terms of a critical consciousness that resounds into the everyday sphere. In this sense, “peace education should be seen as a way of achieving, individually and collectively, a higher level of consciousness, and awareness of social reality and solidarity in a joint learning community, not as a mechanism of social class” (Reardon, 1999). Education is not about increasing one’s social standing or even purely about an understanding of one’s self. Whilst these are factors, they represent the cogs of a more complex framework of reasoning and understanding. Paolo Freire (2000) creates a distinction between what he coins banking education and problem posing education, stating that:

 

Banking education attempts, by mythicizing reality, to conceal certain facts which explain the way man exists in the world…resists dialogue; problem posing education regards dialogue as indispensable to the act of cognition which unveils reality. Banking Education treats students as objects of assistance, Problem Posing Education makes them critical thinkers…Problem Posing Education bases itself on creativity and stimulates true reflections and action upon reality, thereby responding to the vocation of man as beings who are authentic only when engaged in inquiry and creative transformation.

 

There needs to be a correlation between the self and conscious action, or as Hsu (2007) states:

 

Freire’s educational approach is to help learners discover their own subjectivity and be aware of who they are as humans and what they can become. Such a realization could ignite their inner drive to learn and know and their motivated creative and re-creative urge could influence them to take action to transform their reality.

 

Having an awareness of human nature enables a student to potentially tap into their transformative capacities and stimulate peaceful change for the betterment of the society and the global spectrum on the whole.

 

In this sense, the final goal of peace education that I would like to illuminate is that of a protector of global democracy. Prasad (2014) states that there should be:

 

no more genocide, no more ethnic cleansing and no more global terrorism to be happened, let us create and establish genuine democracy through knowledge and practice of peace education based on universally inherent 5 sentiments: viz. body, vitality, mind, intellect, and spirit in every man and woman everywhere without distinction for good governance and non-violence.

 

To fashion democracy in the truest sense of the term, peace education is required to establish an affinity with both mind and body, thus enabling every individual to prevent the everyday atrocities that have plagued and continue to plague humankind. Democracy in the absence of quality education is by no means democracy at all, and as Freire taught us, education should be utilized as a tool of liberation rather than oppression. If critical consciousness protects democracy, then: “prioritizing imagination in education can significantly contribute to solving the common problems we all face” (Duckworth, 2008). The main goal of peace education is to develop a humane society, and to achieve a state of non-violence; it strives to promote awareness and design a protective shield for democracy within the framework of the aforementioned virtuous cycles for education and peace combined.



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