How Children Understand War and Peace: A Call for International Peace Education

How Children Understand War and Peace: A Call for International Peace Education

How Children Understand War and Peace: A Call for International Peace Education

How Children Understand War and Peace: A Call for International Peace Education

Synopsis

How Children Understand War and Peace If we had a better grasp on how children and adolescents develop ideas of war, conflict, and peace, would it be possible to consciously influence these concepts toward more peaceful orientations? Would it then be possible to integrate these psychological findings into educational programs throughout the world? How Children Understand War and Peace is a landmark book that examines these two vital questions and provides a solid framework on which to build answers. Written by an international panel of experts in the fields of developmental, social, and educational psychology, How Children Understand War and Peace presents a collection of the most current thoughts and insights into how children and adolescents develop an understanding of war, conflict, and peace. Based on research studies done in Australia, Canada, Finland, Holland, Israel, Portugal, Northern Ireland, Sweden, and the United States, this comprehensive volume presents evidence that perceptions of war and peace formed during childhood relate directly to adult perspectives on these critical issues. The contributors present persuasive evidence that our knowledge about how youngsters from around the globe develop and form worldviews can be used to create educational programs that teach children peace education, conflict management, and conflict resolution. How Children Understand War and Peace is an indispensable guide for psychologists, educators, and anyone concerned with building a solid foundation for a more peaceful world through knowledge and education. What Children Can Teach Us and What We Can Teach Children How Children Understand War and Peace offers an international perspective on how the concepts of war and peace develop in children and how, through overt teaching of conflict resolution and peacemaking skills in schools, a more peaceful world could be created. "I welcome this important new book. The editors and contributors have given us a new and valuable account of how young people understand the essential issues of war and peace. Not only is this a large step forward in the study of child and adolescent social cognition, but, in addition, the knowledge base in this book suggests ways to educate the younger generation toward more peaceful resolutions of dangerous social conflicts."_William Damon, professor and director, Stanford Center on Adolescence "The first comprehensive overview of current research on children's understanding of peace, conflict, and war, this book shows the richness of children's understanding in its sociocultural context. It challenges us to think deeply about the connections between human development, war, and peace and about how to educate for a culture of peace."_Michael G. Wessells, professor of psychology, Randolph-Macon College "This comprehensive book discusses research on how peace, conflict, and war are interpreted by youngsters from different cultures and how such knowledge can help educators contribute to building peace. Anyone interested in peace and conflict, child development, and education will find many useful insights and a wealth of diverse approaches for working with children in this important new book."_¿ke Bjerstedt, professor emeritus of education, Lund University, Sweden "This landmark book will help open the way to advances in research on the development of children's conceptions of peace and on the practice of peace education." _Milton Schwebel, editor, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology

Excerpt

All three of us know from personal experience what peace, conflict, and war are. We all are Israelis, though one of us is also Dutch, and we participated in some of the Israeli-Arab wars. We also followed, with hope and active support, the beginning of the peace process in the Middle East, heralded by the arrival of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in Jerusalem in November 1977, and years later we continue to support the Oslo accords, which attempted to resolve peacefully the protracted conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.

We believe that violent conflicts and wars are hideous reflections of the darker aspects of human nature, and all efforts should be made to stop human beings from engaging in intergroup violence and warfare. The present book expresses our concerns and, we hope, constitutes a small contribution to the stated aspiration. This book is based on the assumption that people as group members engage in conflict and war on the basis of beliefs they hold. Individuals need justifications, rationales, and explanations as a basis for their violent actions. Their beliefs about peace, conflict, and war are part of this epistemic basis. Hypothetically, if human beings were to believe that wars should not take place under any circumstances, being evil and immoral, their occurrence would probably be reduced. In contrast, however, human beings have believed throughout centuries of civilization that various situations justify war and that there are goals which sanctify certain means. Therefore, it is important to learn how people view peace, conflict, and war, since this knowledge may determine to a great extent humanity's well-being. Knowledge about peace, conflict, and war is acquired during childhood and applied to the understanding of interpersonal and intergroup relations. This early learning is often the foundation upon which new beliefs and perceptions are formed. Thus, it is of great importance to study the kinds of beliefs children form about peace, conflict, and war; the changes which take place in the course of their development; and the factors influencing their acquisition and modification of this knowledge.

We recognize that society's active and intentional efforts may strengthen views which are instrumental in peacekeeping and peace building around . . .

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