Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My answers to reflection questions in Unit One 1.1

Humanity has through the ages witnessed various conflicts that had devastating effects on the society. Cultures throughout the world have learnt lessons from the negative effects of these conflicts and then proceeded to teach the future generations on the reasons why conflicts ought to be prevented and also devised many concepts and methods on how to live peacefully with others.

Peace education in the modern form can be traced to the intellectual efforts of many 19th century thinkers and academics who carried out extensive research into the causes and negative effects of the various Napoleonic wars of the 19th century. Their findings led to the evolving of the socialist political thought. Ministers and lawyers also, often became advocates for issues designed to bring about improvements in society and they were active in establishment of peace societies which assumed a distinct role and served as advocates for peaceful society after a century of bloody wars.

The early 20th century saw increased activity among scholars to raise awareness among the general public about the dangers of violent conflict. These early efforts by scholars and priests focused on persuading the general  public and governments to accept mediation as a better alternative to solve international conflicts. Early 20th century educators like Dewey, Read, Freire and Montessori saw the relationship between education and peace; they saw the direct positive of schools.

A huge milestone in the development of modern peace education came in the United States with the report of the Nye Committee hearings in 1935. This Committee studied the various concerns and companies that profited from World War I and revealed that war was profitable for a fortunate few, notably manufacturers of munitions and other war equipment. The new, lone voice of Gerald P. Nye, United States Senator from North Dakota, expressed it well, when he made a plea to educators to give “an equal place for peace” in the curriculum (Nye, 1935).

Up to this point, judged by the impact made on American education, peace educators had met with limited success. In the 1940s, however, there was evidence of a growing awareness that education for peace could motivate educators to create innovative teaching methodologies. The noted peace researcher and economist Kenneth Boulding envisaged the role of peace studies at the postsecondary level and published a Peace Study Outline that recognized the economic roots of war (Peace Commission, 1941). A few years later, the first Peace Studies course in higher education was established by the Church of the Brethren at Manchester College in Indiana (Stomfay-Stitz, 1993). The first academic peace studies program at the college level was established in 1948 at Manchester College, in North Manchester, Indiana, in the United States. Soon thereafter the field of peace research developed as a “science of peace” in the 1950s to counteract the science of war that had produced so much mass killing.

The 1940s also marked the establishment of conflict resolution as a vital component of peace education. It is generally agreed that this concept was first developed by Theodore Lentz, the founder of the Lentz Peace Research Laboratory, in 1945. A few years later, he published a comprehensive guide for the dynamics involved in resolving conflicts peacefully (Lentz, 1955).

The 1950s saw the introduction of programs, projects and activities that related to peace education in the United States, most of which emphasized “international friendship.” These focused on “global education,” a theme that expanded considerably in subsequent decades. Patricia and George Mische were pioneers in this area and founded Global Education Associates in 1973, with international networks that are still active to this day (Mische, 1977). Global education focused on the interdependence of human beings and their needs as well as the development of skills in peacemaking, conflict resolution and social justice.

The coming of the United nations and its various bodies like UNICEF and UNESCO have given the concept of peace education univesal recognition and encouraged global efforts on the study and promotion of sustainable peace through education. the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child provided a historic perspective that spoke to the hearts of all educators (Landmarks, 1965). With peace education, children’s rights were recognized and instilled as an integral value.

The recognition of peace education and human rights education as a fundamental human right of the child in the Convention on Rights of the Child of 1989, gave added importance to peace education and international organizations along with local teachers all around the world and local communities, felt renewed pressure to provide peace education to all students at all levels as part of their core studies in schools. Communities now saw the integration of peace education into mainstream societal systems as an explicit duty, not simply an extra curricular theoretical activity.

In the 1980s the threat of nuclear war stimulated educators all around the world to warn of impending devastation.  Three books were produced that represent the highlights of an era acutely concerned with the threat of nuclear annihilation: Education for Peace Birgit Brocke-Utne (1985) of Norway, Comprehensive Peace Education by Betty Reardon (1988) of the United States, and Peace Education by Ian Harris (1988), also of the United States. Brocke-Utne (1985) pointed out the devastation that masculine aggression, manifested in militarism, war, and domestic violence, wreaks upon males, females and children.  She argued that feminism is the starting point for effective disarmament.  Additionally, she pointed out that societies not at war were not necessarily peaceful because they still harbored considerable domestic violence. Reardon (1988) argued that the core values of schooling should be care, concern, and commitment, and the key concepts of peace education should be planetary stewardship, global citizenship, and humane relationships.  Harris (1988) stressed a holistic approach to peace education that could apply to community education, elementary and secondary schools, as well as college classrooms.  He also emphasized that a peaceful pedagogy must be integral to any attempt to teach about peace.  The key ingredients of such pedagogy are cooperative learning, democratic community, moral sensitivity, and critical thinking.

The concept of "peace" itself can only be best defined in the context of every society and this has led to the evolving of wide variety of perspectives and goals of peace education. Though, one unifying theme through all peace education efforts is, the universal acceptance of the positive value of teaching about peace to achieve and maintain sustainable peace in the society.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ibrahim,
    This is an incredibly thorough synopsis of the history of peace education - perhaps even moreso than the one in our existing curriculum! I would be interested in including this in our manual. Would you be interested in sharing this with other educators? If so, could you provide me with the reference list (complete references)?
    Nicely done.


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This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi ( is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.