Give Peace a Chance: The Diminution of Peace in Global Education in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada

By Cook, Sharon Anne | Canadian Journal of Education, December 2008 | Go to article overview
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Give Peace a Chance: The Diminution of Peace in Global Education in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada


Cook, Sharon Anne, Canadian Journal of Education


This study surveyed the literature on peace and global education in secondary schools to explore the position of peace education within the global education field. To create a database from Canada, the United States, and Britian, this article includes secondary studies from professional and peer-reviewed periodicals, articles in published collections, monographs, and textbooks. The results demonstrate that peace education over time has occupied progressively less space. The nature of both peace and global education in the school curriculum has changed. The reduction of peace education within the global education rubric has negative consequences for everyone committed to the principles of global and peace education.

Key words: peace education, global education; school peace curriculum

Cette etude fait le point sur la litterature a propos de l'education a la paix et de l'education planetaire dans les ecoles secondaires en vue de cerner la place occupee par l'education a la paix dans le domaine de l'education planetaire. Voulant creer une base de donnees issues du Canada, des Etats-Unis et de la Grande-Bretagne, l'auteure inclut des etudes secondaires provenant de periodiques professionnels et avec comite de lecture, des articles dans des collections, des monographies et des manuels. Les resultats demontrent que l'education a la paix occupe de moins en moins de place. La nature de l'education a la paix et de l'education planetaire dans les programmes scolaires a change. La diminution de la place accordee a l'education a la paix au sein de la rubrique education planetaire a des consequences negatives pour toutes les personnes attachees aux principes de l'education a la paix et de l'education planetaire.

Mots cles: education a la paix, education planetaire, notion de paix dans les programmes scolaires.

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Peace education is currently considered to be both a philosophy and a process involving skills, including listening, reflection, problem-solving, cooperation and conflict resolution. The process involves empowering with the skills, attitudes and knowledge to create a safe world and build a sustainable environment. The philosophy teaches nonviolence, love, compassion and reverence for all life. Peace education confronts indirectly the forms of violence that dominate society by teaching about its causes and providing knowledge of alternatives. (Harris & Morrison, 2003, p. 9)

This definition of peace education by one of the field's leading author teams provides evidence of the close alignment of principles behind peace and global education, as it is termed in North America. Other popular sources on global education at the school level also emphasize the importance of peace education (Goldstein & Selby, 2000). Both collections define peacemaking as mainly an interpersonal experience, resulting in personal conflict, racism, gender and sexual exclusions, and environmental degradation. The focus is placed on the local and the personal, rather than the international, despite ongoing concern with what Galtung (1975) called structural violence. This waning of interest in the school curriculum in the international and structural dimensions of peace studies rather than the personal uses of peace-making has clear instrumental value for the classroom and schoolyard. However, the general effect of narrowing peace education's focus to the local has been to further marginalize it. In fact, it has been persuasively argued that school-based peace education struggles for legitimacy even within its own field: peace education vs. peace research; knowledge vs. praxis of peace education (Burns, 1996). Aspeslagh (1996) notes that peace education is "condemned to the waiting room of society," where the only thing left for its proponents is to "tap at the window looking into education and the public, hoping to attract some attention" (p. 392). Not all researchers in this field would agree with Aspeslagh's assessment, but most would acknowledge the fluid relationship between peace and global education in the school system, and the difficulties of peace education to find its place.

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