We are surrounded by violence in our society and our global community, and too often we see this echoed in the actions and behaviours of the youth in our schools. The concept of 'educating for peace' can seem a daunting and overly simplistic solution to what has become the culture of violence in which we live.
We would argue that educating for peace is our best solution. Education is at the core of fundamental social change in our world. Throughout history we have witnessed examples of education being used to inculcate hatred, violence and damaging world views. We know the power of education to influence and shape society. What we need to recognize is the potential for our education system to be a powerful force in shaping a society that values social justice, respect for others and a belief in the dignity and rights of every human life - in short, a culture of peace.
The lessons contained in this resource will not magically transform our world. However, if an activity from these materials encourages even one of your students to think about things in a new way or to question the violence that he or she sees around them, we have moved a step closer to change. Feedback from pilot testing included the following comment from a student who took part in the activities: "I now want to help to achieve peace in our world." Who knows how far the ripples will spread from the actions of that one student over the course of a lifetime?
small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith
in their mission can alter the course of history.
- M.K. Gandhi -
Recognizing and building on the concept that peace is a process, this resource attempts to sow some initial seeds that will help to cultivate peace within our youth. Subsequent resources in the series will continue this work and expand on the range of topics explored within these pages.
In a social climate where many teachers feel undervalued and overburdened, it is easy to forget the magnitude of the job that you have. Teachers change lives. We hope this resource will help you to create change in the lives of your students and in all of our lives - a change from a culture of violence toward a culture of peace.