BASIC CONCEPTS OF EDUCATION FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE

“If humankind produce social reality, then transforming the reality is an historical task, a task for humanity” (Freire, 2005, p. 51). This week we start with a quote from Freire. Freire mentions about the way social reality is constructed and the responsibility that the humankind has on transforming it. Let’s read what a  Peace Educator Eleni says about the concept of Education for a Culture of Peace. Enjoy!

What is Education for a Culture of Peace

According toUNESCO, Educationfora Culture ofPeaceandNon-Violence isa “process forwarding knowledge, skills, attitudes and values​​needed toachievebehavioral changesthat willenable children, youth and/or adults topreventconflict andviolence, both directand structural, to resolveconflictspeacefullyand to create theconditions that willcontributeto peaceon an individual,interpersonaland nationallevel, but alsobetween groups andnations”.

It is a holistic framework aiming at social change through education, explained in UNESCO’s Constitution, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”. Education for a Culture of Peace does not refer to the absence of war and physical violence, since even in cases where there is no war between states, some people do not have access to social and economic goods; in other words there is structural violence. Thus, the Culture of Peace which we refer to includes education for sustainable economic and social development, education for sustainable management of natural resources, respect for human rights, gender equality, participation of citizens in decision-making, respect and tolerance of other cultures and diversity, social justice, freedom of information movement, demilitarization and inner peace.

Education is the platform from where one can depart to bring about structural changes within society.  Education for a Culture of Peace can provide the means through which such a transformation of the educational system and society can be achieved.  “It aims at developing awareness of social and political responsibilities, guiding and challenging learners to develop their own points of view on the problems of peace and justice.  It encourages them to explore possibilities for their own contribution to resolving the problems and achieving a Culture of Peace” (Reardon et al., 2002, p. 20).

Education For, In, and Through

Human Rights Education (HRE) does not restrict itself to teaching for Education for a Culture of Peace.  Acquiring sufficient knowledge regarding the various areas under the umbrella of Education for a Culture of Peace is an important part, but not a holistic one.  Education for a Culture of Peace proclaims that you teach in, which means that you demonstrate through your behavior and practice that these principles are part of our everyday lives and are respected and upheld in the school community.  It also implies that you teach through, which means that all the components, methods and materials used are conducive to Education for a Culture of Peace.  It means that the school community establishes a space where a Culture of Peace is prevalent in all aspects of the school life, including all places, activities, and actions of the school community.  There is a nice proverb stating that “if we do not smile, we cannot make other people smile”.  Similarly, if we preach about it but we do not practice it, then the preaching will not be sufficient for laying the groundwork for individual and social transformation.  Educators need to become “partners of the students in their relations with them” (Freire, 2005, p. 75) and provide them with opportunities that will shape the learning environment and make structural changes that will fit the needs of individuals.  The school needs to be transformed into a place where learners obtain the tools to participate in a democratic society.

Advancing Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior

Education for a Culture of Peace must aim towards advancing the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of learners.  The three terms are interconnected and education should strive towards advancing all three.  The ‘traditional’ method of teaching has restricted itself to the acquisition of knowledge.  The shift now taking place includes the teaching of values, and aims, through the teaching, to advance the attitudes of the individuals as well. Education for a Culture of Peace takes into account the attitudes of individuals towards different thematic areas and tries to promote respect and equality for everyone.  It also tries to promote positive attitudes toward the subject itself.  If learners gain a positive attitude towards a Culture of Peace, then they will be more likely to promote actions supporting human rights throughout their lives.  It is also really important for individuals to act upon their environment.  This is a way of putting into practice the knowledge and skills that they gain.  There is a need to go beyond the walls of the classroom and give opportunities to learners to take action within their communities, countries, and the world in general.  Educators need to facilitate the process of learners becoming active citizens and responsible individuals, who care for their society and act upon improving it.  As Freire (2005) has stated “liberation is a praxis: the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it” (p. 79).

Next week we will post more on Basic Concepts of Education for a Culture of Peace by Eleni. We hope you enjoyed it. If you are an educator, teacher,  an instructor or an individual interested in learning more about Concepts of Education for a Culture of Peace keep following us and stay tuned up to next week on Tuesday!  Also let us know what you think about Education for a Culture of Peace!

About POST Research Institute

POST is a non-profit, non-political organization set up by a group of people to work for the cultural, social, and environmental betterment of Cyprus and established at 2002. Vision: To contribute towards achieving an alternative sustainable future, which comprises of an egalitarian Cypriot society, that recognizes the dignity of every living being. Mission: • On the basis of social equality/justice: o To contribute for creating an open dialogue on issues of peace education and reconciliation and working actively for the unification of the island. o To take action against gender discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for achieving positive social transformation. o To advance, sensitize and advocate for a multicultural and diverse society in which all differences are recognized, understood and accepted. • To excel as an Institute in the execution of research and participatory action. • To strengthen research capacity in Cyprus. • To strive for ecological sustainability through the prevention of environmental degradation and destruction.
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