||Posted: Sep. 22 2005,09:08 by Guest from -
The following notes come from a discussion on strategy for the Culture of Peace Decade held in Hartford, CT., USA on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2005.
The statement "Education is the key for teaching peace" launched the discussion. Education, it was further explained, should be understood in the broad sense, including not only school, but also education in the family, education by the mass media, and other forms of non-formal and informal education, such as the meeting in which we were participating.
Children should be taught empathy, it was said, referring to the scientific analysis of the development of moral thinking in children done many years ago by the psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget's research was then incorporated into the design of the Montessori schools by Maria Montessori, who also wrote important books and articles for world peace. Today, the Montessori schools along with other school networks (UNESCO's Associated Schools, the Life-Link Friendship Schools, the Rudolf Steiner Schools, etc.) provide education in line with the principles of a culture of peace.
What is the nature of education for a culture of peace? One teacher said that it means providing a safe space to share ideas, whether or not one believes in all of them. The opposite approach, indoctrination, is not consistent with a culture of peace. Does this mean that the teacher and the students should have no passion? Not at all, explained one teacher. Passion is important in teaching. Another teacher called passion "the fire" in contrast with the "ice" of reasoning. He said there needs to be a balance of fire and ice, and in no case should the pupil be intimidated and afraid to express his/her opinion even if it is not shared by the others.
Mention was made of the mass media as an educational force. How can we deal with its emphasis on violence and conflict instead of cooperation and learning by listening to others?
But some expressed was some skepticism that education by itself could produce a culture of peace. Isn't it necessary to have political struggle as well in order to change the institutional structures of the culture of war? There was discussion of the World Social Forum in Brazil and the Peace Process and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa as political processes that can serve as models. The International Day of Peace, September 21, is the first day of spring in the southern hemisphere. There was applause when it was suggested that maybe we should listen to the people of the South and accept their leadership toward a culture of peace.