CONDITIONS FOR A SUCCESSFUL PEACE EDUCATION IN THE

SCHOOLS - POSSIBILITIES AND ALTERNATIVES

Hans Treichel, Potsdam, Germany



I want to focus on three problems:

1. What is peace education, what is its purpose, what is it able to do today, in our time?
2. What are the preconditions which further peace education and the development of a peace
culture in the schools?
3. What is the responsibility, what are the options of the teachers?

1. What is peace education, what is its purpose, what is it able to do today, in our time?

It is an important finding of peace research for peace education, that it is not enough to hold prejudices and national stereotypes responsible for the rise of war and violence. Therefore it is not suff~cient to concentrate peace education on changing individual attitudes - as important as this may be. Peace is a carefully directed process which includes engaged conflict resolution with nonviolent means, at the same time increasing the realization of human rights, and thereby of social justice and democracy.

Peace education is education for the transformation of the world. It refers to all fields of learning. It is supposed to contribute to the reduction of personal readiness to use violence, to the exposure and removal of violent structures in human relations, in every social field, and finally, between nations and states.

The emphasis of peace education should be on:

- Imparting and acquisition of peace competence (this includes practical competence and knowledge, attitudes and acting competence),

- leading the students to "peace ability" (this depends upon the cooperative and social capacities among other things),

- bringing the relationship of peace education to environmental and Third World education home to the student.

Yet: No illusions. Peace education cannot solve basic social problems. Peace education cannot replace peace politics. But: Every effcient action, even the smallest one, will change the world.

2. What are the preconditions which further peace education and the development of a peace culture in the schools?

a) For a successful peace education we need certain political preconditions. Only under such conditions can systematical and continuous work be guaranteed. If we look at the concrete politics of the great powers, and of the Federal Republic of Germany, the main stresses are different ones.

One of the conditions furthered by the federal government is the Bundeswehr, the Federal Army. There are 94 full-time and 550 half-time "Youth Officers" who work for the Bundeswehr, mainly in schools. The so-called "spear point of the PR work (Public Relations) of the Bundeswehr" made 9000 "operations" during the last year, with 234,000 participants, 70% of them were students. More than 95,000 people took part in "troop visits". The youth officers' yearly report says:

"Young persons are little interested in politics in general and in the politics of security in particular." "At present alternative strategies are hardly of interest and their importance does not seem to increase." "A broad peace movement does not exist any more. "

Thus peace education has no chance? Yes it has and I want to mention one example: Our STIFTUNG GEWALTFREIES LEBEN (Foundation for Life Without Violence) published an analysis of the political basis and the legal efforts for peace education in Germany and each federal state. These legal instructions are part of the preconditions for our task.

What is the result of this report? The federal constitution says that peace is a main object of the state and a commandment for political action. The constitutions and school laws of the states fix the general objectives for learning and education. Some of the states developed special guidelines and standards of different forms for peace education. These documents describe peace education as a task of primary importance. These basic ideas are developed best, where there is a political will to transform the classes and the whole school. We addressed the results of the analysis to all state governments asking them to estimate the degree of realization of the guidelines. The answers are very different, some failed to come in spite of our inquiry. In some cases our endeavour led to an activity of the opposition within the parliament. As a next step, we want to address a more general public with the results mentioned.

Of course we do not overestimate such an activity. But: We try to persuade governments and responsible persons to contribute more to this task, which they themselves recognize as an important one. They are to know that there are people who do not content themselves with general declarations concerning this vital problem. We want to take them at their word, make more detailed suggestions7 and take care that these problems are not repressed or even forgotten. With this activity we also want to improve the general conditions.

b) Some aspects concerning school conditions

For a successful peace education at school we need a comprehensive start. We have to understand school as a space of learning and living, of meeting each other and of discussion. We have to include learning places outside the school. Peace education requires dialogue between school, parents, and peace groups outside school.

The development of a specific school culture, the qualitative style of the school, is crucial. Further necessary conditions of a successful peace at school are:

- To take up contents which are necessary for peace, and to deal with them within the different subjects as well as overlapping the subjects. ("Subject-overlapping": A new class concept in Germany, one topic is dealt with in several subjects at the same time).
- To recognize and carry through the principle of peace education in the classes and within the organization of school life.
- To provide detailed and up-to-date material for peace education (rather than only by
the Bundeswehr, the army, which is very active providing material).

- To organize school and "school life" from the aspect of co-determination and responsibility.

c) One of the conditions is to know, as exactly as possible, the present day problem fields.

This is not to itemize and characterize such present day problem fields like: new "enemy images" after the end of the east-west-conflict, violence in the mass-media etc. But: Living and learning at school and peace education take place in public facing the questions which arise from the actuality of the students' lifes. The conditions of living and growing have to be the reference and orientation point for the shaping of the school. Peace education must not miss this fact.

3. What is the responsibility, what are the options of the teachers?

We call for good national programs for peace education. But: Plans, programs, decrees can be ever so good, their realization in the life of a school, in the classes depend solely on the teacher's willingness and on his knowledge and ability.

Don't we need the conciousness for a changed understanding of the profession for teachers, too? You do not want to have your actions controlled by regulations and external supervision, but by self-control and responsibility. An important basis for a successful work is laid during the education (and the continuing education) of the teachers themselves. The present education of the teachers does not meet the requirements. A reform of content and organization is needed. Peace pedagogics is a fixed element only at a few universities and academies.

We need a continuing teachers´ education in the field of peace pedagogics, in order to familiarize them with new views, strategies, and concepts of peace politics, with new findings of peace research, and with the development of a peace culture in the schools. Ultimately we see: Peace education, human rights education, and the development of a peace culture are long-term tasks.

The International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century formulated the program "Resting on four main pillars: Learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together..." This kind of learning addresses the human being as a whole, his or her intellect, emotion, will, and ability to active participation.

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