D. Balakrishna and R Venkatesh
The present-day world is full of stresses and strains, conflicts and controversies, riots and violence, mutual distrust and ill-will. Helping children choose peace as a way of life is becoming increasingly difficult in these circumstances. How will young children be able to find themselves in the right direction?
Is education the answer? Peace makes the task of education easier, but does education promote peace? Some of society’s problems today are linked to education in one way or other. The role of institutionalized education in the context of peace is highly debatable. In everyday life, we notice success in education is associated with competition among children and schools. A mild and healthy competition can bring about the encouragement to excel, but unhealthy or intense competition will only sharpen isolated egos, self-interest, mutual hatred, frequent clashes and stress. This is the typical school environment today. This kind of education only promotes selfish interest and the idea of common interest fades away.
To establish peace as a necessary condition for reforming education, we need to develop a reflective mindset, which is difficult to achieve if there is tension in the classroom and in the relationship between the teacher and student. In a highly competitive environment children are constantly charged up and are under pressure to leave others behind. Hence, introducing children to peaceful and creative ways of responding to conflict is essential if we are to build a more peaceful world. Education must be able to promote values that foster peace, humanness and tolerance in a multi-cultural society like India.
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children.” M.K. Gandhi
“All education is for peace.” Maria Montessori
Education for peace acknowledges the goal of promoting a culture of peace if implemented with vigor and vision. Education for peace can make learning a joyful and meaningful experience. Peace education aims to teach justice, principles of equality, non-violence, human rights, disarmament, and environmental problems and issues. It hopes to resolve conflicts peacefully and create conditions conducive to peace, whether at the interpersonal, intrapersonal, national, or international level.
Peace education is dependent on the kind of person the teacher is. Children learn peaceful behaviour more from the ways a teacher speaks, responds to challenges, and looks at issues, than from what he/she teaches. Obviously a teacher that is not peaceful cannot teach peace, because his/her behaviour will contradict what he/she teaches.
Attitudes and values are difficult to teach, teaching them tends to create resistance in learners, because such inculcation itself is experienced as imposition. Teacher centered and subject centered approaches are ineffective in peace education. Most effective would be the child centered approach because it respects the rights of the child in the classroom and school.
Ways of integrating peace values through lessons
- Languages: promote peace through moral stories, biographies of great men, by explaining the significance of festivals, traditions and practices of a society, through active listening, communication and reflection, etc.
- Social science: promotes peace values through appreciation of one’s glorious past, by nurturing respect for nature, good governance, responsible citizenship, sustainable development, need-based utilization of resources, etc.
- Science: can promote peace through the intelligent and conscious use of science and technology.
- Mathematics: maths education should promote the power of reasoning, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, aesthetic construction and congruence.
- Positive attitudes: While teaching all subjects, every lesson should end up with teaching a peace value, such as tolerance, compatibility, love, kindness, courage, compassion, empathy, truthfulness, social responsibility, environmental awareness, gender sensitivity, healthy habits, conflict management and resolution, etc.
The identification of peace value in a lesson depends on the ability of the teacher/pedagogue. Peace is a necessary condition to reform education. If our purpose is to train a reflective mind, such an aim will become difficult to achieve, if there is tension in the classroom and in the relationship between teacher and student. Tension takes different forms and it need not be visible.
Teachers have a significant role in building peace in the lives of the children and in the ethos of the school. Education for peace acknowledges the goal of promoting a culture of peace, as the purpose is to shape the enterprise of education.
“All goal of education is to build and promote peace and happiness.”
D.Balakrishna has worked for many years in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, a reputed residential institution, under the aegis of NVS under MHRD, as a teacher, foster parent and vice principal. He currently lives in Warangal, Telangana. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
R. Venkatesh is a research scholar in public administration. He can be reached at email@example.com.