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"If we are to teach real peace in the world we shall have to begin with children."
- Mahatma Gandhi (Father of the Nation)
Peace, as an integrative perspective for the school curriculum, is an idea whose time has come. Education for peace acknowledges the goal of promoting a culture of peace as the purpose shaping the endeavor of education. Education for peace is education for life, and not merely training for a livelihood. Equipping individuals with the values, skills, and attitudes they need to be wholesome persons who live in harmony with others and as responsible citizens is the goal of the education for peace. It is very necessary in a nation like India as the nation is full of diversity whether it is religion, language, rituals, traditions, customs. And there are incidents with in the country when the conflicts between different religious communities or languages communities had arisen and took the form of violence. Violence is an easy weapon to react to the problems and today's youth is becoming more and more familiar or used to of this "unwanted weapon". Children acquire all these values and attitudes from their experiences which they gained in the school or at home. So, there is an urgent need for the education for peace so that the citizens of tomorrow can be empowered to choose the way of peace. Necessary skills, values and attitudes required for the peace need to be developed and inculcated in children if we want to have a safe and progressing future for all of us.
The acceptance of education for peace as a necessary ingredient of holistic education was due to the rise and spread of violence. Decade of 2000-2010 was declared as the international decade for promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence by the UNESCO. But Indian education commissions have always recommended education for peace in many forms, but these recommendations are not being applied even today. The report of the Secondary Education Commission (1952-53) stated that "the supreme end of the educative process should be the training of the character and personality of students in such a way that they will be able to realize their full potentials and contribute to the well-being of the community". The Kothari education Commission (1964-66) put the spotlight on the education and national development and said that "absence of provision for education in social, moral and spiritual values is a serious defect in the curriculum". The National Policy on Education (1986) advocated turning education into "a forceful tool for the cultivation of social and moral values". The programme of Action (1992) tried to integrate the various components of value education into the curriculum at the all stages of school education. National Curriculum Framework (2005) recommended that education in true sense should empower individuals to clarify their values; to enable them to take conscious and deliberate decisions, taking into cognizance the consequences of their actions; to choose the way of peace rather than violence.
Thus, our education system has always followed education for peace but these initiatives remained largely on the paper even today due to various reasons like lack of proper training of teachers in their role as peace builders; curriculum load; absence of right attitudes and practices in the school; improper pedagogical and evaluation practices; violent social atmosphere etc.
Needs and desires are the guiding motivation for humans. If our needs are not fulfilled, then we are in a state of conflict which cannot lead to peaceful ways of living and on the other hand desires are always limitless and hence they also lead to some form of violence (like aggression) if unfulfilled. A famous psychologist Abraham Maslow (1968) identified human needs and stated that human needs move in a hierarchy (fig. 1). If the needs of one layer are not satisfied then the needs of other layer cannot be fulfilled and fulfillment of these needs is necessary for establishing peace because imbalance in these needs can cause conflicts and aggression in humans and these are the foremost reasons of violence. In India, many people are still not able to fulfill even their basic needs and crime, violence, aggression, conflicts, depressions; suicides are result of it. So, in this scenario, education for peace becomes really important for all of us so that conflicts and problems can be resolved in peaceful ways.
We are social animals, not self-contained islands. Self-reliance, as Gandhi ji pointed out, must not be mistaken for self-sufficiency. We need each other. Interdependence is the human face of self-reliance. How we respond and relate to others is a crucial element in our personalities. If this be the case, education needs to nurture in students the values and skills that enable them to live in harmony with others. Jacques Delors (1996) identifies "living together in harmony" as one of the four pillars of education. The current practice of education is inadequate to promote the art of living together in harmony. Students are nurtured in a spirit of competition and trained, from the beginning, to relate to facts and objects. Learning takes place in a background isolated from the world of relationships and realities. Learning of this kind comprises, as Charles Dickens (2003) lamented in Hard Times, "facts, facts and nothing but facts".
Fig. 1, Hierarchical needs of human according to Maslow
Today's society is based on the idea of profit and competition and these two things are easily reflected in our present educational system where grades and marks matter more than anything else. Present education turns children into cerebral machines that master facts and are mastered by them. Our education leaves the children deficient in emotional and relational skills. As a result, the more "achievement-oriented" a person is less able he tends to be relating to people, even dear ones, sensitively, reciprocally and responsibly. The alienation between head and heart is the byproduct of the current model of education.
Faith in violence as a quick-fix problem solver is an emerging wave. This violence can be visible in the form of physical punishment or invisible in the form of competition or craving for achievement. Agenda-wars in workplaces, gender-wars in homes, propaganda wars in the public space, violence is everywhere in one or the other form. We have got habitual of violence in many forms but fact is that we don't even recognize this and children observe all these things and learn to follow their elders. Peace begins with the individual and spreads to the family, to the community, to the nation and to the global village.
Education for Peace:
We should ensure that the education we impart is favorable to the wellbeing and unity of India. Peace is a prime requirement for progress and national integration. Implementing education for peace is not only an appropriate strategy for conflict resolution and conflict avoidance, but also a practical asset in realizing "the India of our dreams". Every society in every age has acknowledged peace as a noble and necessary ideal.
Education for peace can make learning a joyful and meaningful experience if implemented with vigour and vision. In today's world, hurry and worry sour the joy of learning and challenge learning and harmony of life. Values get lost in this atmosphere of competition. Values are internalized through experience, which is unhappily lacking in the classroom centered and exclusively cognitive approach to teaching. Education for peace calls for the freedom of learning from the boundaries of the classroom and its transformation into a celebration of awareness enlivened with the delight of discovery. Education for peace contextualizes learning. We live in an age of unprecedented violence: locally, nationally and globally. It is a serious matter that schools, which are meant to be the nurseries of peace, become transmission points for violence. Education for peace seeks to nurture the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that comprise a culture of peace. Education for peace is holistic. Education for peace has a twofold purpose: (a) to empower individuals to choose the path of peace rather than the path of violence; (b) to enabling them to be peacemakers rather than consumers of peace.
An approach to Education for Peace:
The peace opportunities hidden in the curriculum are maximized when the school atmosphere is inspired with the values and attitudes of peace. Teacher-student interactions, lesson designs in textbooks, the pedagogic approach and the total life of school must all be oriented towards peace. The pedagogic strategy for education for peace is that of integration. The integrated approach has an edge over the "separate subject approach". Constructivist psychology has established that children construct knowledge holistically. When knowledge is rooted in suitable contexts, it becomes more meaningful and enjoyable for the learner. In the integrated approach, the lessons and topics become the vehicles to convey peace messages in meaningful contexts. This approach not only makes the subject matter wholesome and situated but also motivates students to learn and to relate what they learn to their own settings. It provides contexts and connections to explore, think, reflect, and internalize positive dispositions. Thus, every teacher becomes a peace educator. Teacher-student interactions, textbook lessons and the pedagogy for teaching them, and the school management and administrative staff must all be oriented to education for peace.
ROLE OF TEACHERS IN EDUCATION FOR PEACE:
For students, teachers are role-models. Therefore, teachers play a role, unconsciously, in propagating violence if they are not oriented to peace. As the saying goes, "What I teach is what I know and what I educate is what I am." A teacher's prime responsibility is to help students become good human beings, motivated to fulfill their true potential not only for their own benefit but also for the betterment of the society as a whole. It is for this reason that a teacher is compared to a gardener who plants seeds of knowledge and good values, waters them with care and kindness, and removes weeds of ignorance. Good teachers are models of peace values, such as, the art of listening, the humility to acknowledge and correct one's mistakes, assuming responsibility for one's actions, sharing concerns, and helping each other to solve problems transcending differences, even if they do not advocate peace.
A teacher who imposes "discipline" in the classroom only by threatening children with blows and slaps is a role-model for violence as the only problem-solving strategy. The teacher's role in creating a positive climate in the classroom is of vital importance. It is his/ her attitudes, values, and relationships that determine the nature of the classroom climate. A teacher who, from
a peace perspective, can critically evaluate his/her attitudes, habitual modes of thinking, and approach to teaching-what one teaches and what are the carry-over values of what is taught and how it is taught-is an asset for education for peace.
"Teachers are mirror of upcoming generations in the form of students and an effective element of establishing peaceful atmosphere". The role of teachers towards a child's education is to create a caring environment in the classroom. Teachers who listen to what the students have to say and develop a curriculum that is meaningful to the children have the most successful students. Teachers with a concern for the needs of the students and a child-centered philosophy have cooperative students who look forward to learning.
Children close their ears to advice and open their eyes to example. This is especially true in the Indian context where teachers are respected as the source of knowledge and wisdom. Students will learn peace values only if these are modeled by their teachers and elders. If there is a mismatch between what adults do and what they say, students will imitate what is done. Teachers need to be aware of the effect of their behaviour on students. For example, instead of exhorting students to "care for others'', it is more effective to practice this value and let students construct their own understanding of it.
Fig. 2, Role of Teachers in education for peace
The common pedagogic goal for teachers is syllabus and examination oriented. In peace-oriented pedagogy, the focus is not merely on retention of concepts, memorization of texts, or achieving individual goals and excellence but on learning to reflect, share, care, and collaborate with each other. Every topic/lesson has peace- hidden components, which need to be communicated with purposeful planning from a positive and humanistic perspective. The methods of teaching should be creative, child-centered, mostly experiential, and participatory. There is ample scope in the syllabi of various subject areas for teaching students the importance of adopting peaceful means of resolving disagreements and conflicts and avoiding violence; and teachers need to take full advantage of this.
Teaching should stimulate positive feelings and foster positive experiences, help in arriving at an understanding of the self, encourage openness to inquiry by raising questions, exploring, and discovering and constructing an understanding of values, and provide an opportunity for applying the knowledge of values the student has learnt. Strategies like questions, stories, anecdotes, games, experiments, discussions, dialogues, value clarification, examples, analogies, metaphors, role-play, and simulation are helpful in promoting peace through teaching-learning. In all of this, what stands out is the crucial role that the teacher plays in an approach to education that promotes a culture of peace. The fact that learning has to necessarily be pupil-oriented does not contradict this. Learning can be pupil-oriented only if the teacher facilitates it. For education for peace, a great deal depends on the peace-motivation of teachers, especially in the integrated approach. The teacher has to be alert to peace opportunities and creative in appropriating them in respect of the curriculum as a whole.
Challenges in front of education for peace:
Education for peace encounters many problems when integrated with in the teaching learning process. Curriculum load is one of them. Curriculum load has serious practical implications for implementing education for peace. Completion of curriculum acts as the end product itself and the purpose of education get lost in this "race". Secondly, evaluation practices encourage competition and everyone wants to learn only for excellent grades and marks because these marks make them eligible for higher paid and reputed employment opportunities. Third, teacher education does not equip the learners with innovation and imagination and they were not even sensitized about their role as peace builders. Fourth daily practices of school do not reflect peace. Discrimination and injustice are the form of violence and schools are still perpetuating the discrimination which is based on gender and caste. Fifth the media is pervasive presence today and children observe and follow a lot from the visual media. Most of the reactions of the youth today are greatly inspired by the films. Sixth, social pressure and competition to move ahead from others too challenge education for peace as everyone wants a quick solution. People don't have faith in peaceful methods.
Fig. 3, Challenges for Education for peace
Thus, education for peace is the necessity of today and schools should contain aspirations to peace and related values and skills. It should be mandatory to ensure that schools are free from discriminatory attitudes and practices based on caste and gender. School education involves the formative years in a person's life, so child centered, integrated and constructivist pedagogical and evaluative strategies should be adopted so that children can explore, inquire and learn to be the constructors of knowledge as well as of the peace. Teacher education needs to be transformed according to the needs and aspirations of present times because teachers can be social healers. Teachers must be equipped with the constructivist and integrated approaches of the teaching-learning process. Education for peace needs to be seen as an enterprise for healing and revitalizing the nation as it can activate the holistic vision for education. In Indian context, education for peace is equally responsible for the elimination of all forms of discrimination and inequality whether it is based on gender, caste or economical basis. Education for peace must be understood as the education for life as well as for the bright, progressive and peaceful future.
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