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Critical Peace Education Final

Page history last edited by Stephanie Knox 9 years, 10 months ago

2. Critical Peace Education

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this session, the participants will:

  • Be able to define critical pedagogy and critical peace education
  • Be able to describe the key principles of critical pedagogy and critical peace education
  • Understand different ways to apply critical pedagogy and critical peace education in classroom practice 

Guiding Questions

Before you read this section, consider the following questions:

  • What is the relationship between education and social action?
  • Can education ever be neutral?
  • As a teacher, what are some ways that you empower your students? 

 

 

He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question

remains a fool forever.

- Chinese Proverb

 

No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it. We need to

see the world anew.

 - Albert Einstein

Introduction

Critical peace education is the result of applying critical pedagogy to the issues that concern the development or degradation of peace. These issues are often seen as the spheres of foreign and domestic policy, the decisions concerning societal institutions – any of which have an impact on the society, most notably schools, and the power dynamics within the country and outside of it. The lofty goal for such pedagogy is to create “a citizenry capable of genuine public thinking, political judgment, and social action”, as American political theorist Benjamin Barber (1984) has stated. It aims to build a population that can independently analyze their situation, and prevent situations of physical or structural violence, while simultaneously promoting equality, respect, sustainability, and other elements of positive peace.

 

Ultimately, the goal of critical peace education is to create a student that is empowered with both the skills and desire to engage in his/her local society and transform it into a more peaceful one. To this end, as educators we must stress two relevant aspects of critical peace education: the ways in which societies can degrade into violence, and the creation of the critical consciousness, or the ability to independently analyze a situation and develop unique, local solutions. 

 

Through critical peace education, educators seek to empower students with critical knowledge and the desire to act so that they might independently evaluate societal institutions and transform society through this process.  

Theoretical Framework

Critical peace education and critical pedagogy are based upon a number of assumptions, such as:

 

  • There is an inherent link between critical empowerment and social action. 
  • Critical empowerment consists of two tenets: understanding the dialectic process and the courage to use that process on local issues. 
  • Critical empowerment only assumes relevance when local issues are examined and studied.
  • Critical discussion of local and global issues is necessary for social progress. 

 

There are a few fundamental assumptions regarding critical peace education which define the field, separate from critical pedagogy. These are:

  • To engage in social transformation, we must focus a critical lens upon societal institutions, domestic and foreign policy, and local and global power dynamics. 
  • Educators must emphasize multiple perspectives, which the students may use to critically analyze their local situation. 
  • As the citizenry must be capable of understanding and accepting the failings of their social institutions, critical peace education should involve a critique of present society in order to create positive change towards peace.

 

From this theoretical framework, we can understand that critical peace education is an application of critical pedagogy to the issues that concern the development or degradation of peace. The difference between critical peace education and critical pedagogy is one of concentration.

Critical Pedagogy 

Definition

Any discussion of critical peace education cannot be divorced from critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogy is the method in which educators prepare their students to assess, evaluate, and challenge conventional beliefs or norms through rational critique. The pedagogy contains two inherent methods: educators must develop the skills for the student to rationally assess any idea, and educators must also demonstrate to the student the relationship between empowerment and social transformation. Critical pedagogy has been broadly defined by critical pedagogue Ira Shor (1992) as:

 

Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse (p. 129).


Thus, critical pedagogy involves more than just criticizing society. It is also understanding why things are the way they are, how they came to be, and what can be done to change them.

Relevance

Critical pedagogy is relevant because of the inherent link between the empowerment of the students and the task of social transformation. The impact of a critically empowered citizenry would be massive. Providing students with the skills to formulate critical and analytical thought as well as the values to engage and transform their local society has benefits anywhere. Social transformation can occur with any action - it may be the creation of a local gym for impoverished youth or action within a local government. However, critical pedagogy involves a process in which the actor finds cause or motivation through analytical thought, and then uses this thought to inform her actions. This relates to Freire's concept of praxis, through which learners constantly move between theory and practice by using analytical thought to guide their actions, then returning to analytical thought for reflection and to inform further action.

Application

The application of critical pedagogy should be informed by the local situation. Instead of creating global content, educational scholars emphasize that to cultivate critical consciousness in students, educators must help students analyze their local situation. Educators must extrapolate local beliefs, theories, stories, experiences and histories and allow the students the safety to assess beliefs that might be central to their culture (Giroux, 1988, 1989). There can be no untouchable subject in the development of critical consciousness – all topics must be up for debate.

 

The ability to create such an environment in the classroom is dependent upon local issues. However, educators have developed a few methods in which critical thought is emphasized. A tool that must be used in any classroom where critical consciousness is the goal is the dialectic process, in which thesis and antithesis come together to create a modified conclusion. To apply a theoretical concept such as this in the classroom, educators must first provide the student with a belief or philosophy that is generally accepted by their local culture.

 

For example: 

Belief: Canada is a peaceful, tolerant, and multiracial state.

What must be done next must be done delicately: the teacher must contrast this viewpoint with another. However, evidence provided by the instructor cannot be in favor of one side or another. The instructor's bias must be removed from the classroom as much as possible. An example of such a critique may be:

 

Critique: Canada's land reserve system results in a life of poverty for the aboriginal population.

 

At this point, the instructor must remove herself from the situation and provide the students with the opportunity to formulate their own opinion regarding these two contrasting propositions. The resultant conclusion will be achieved through rational and analytical logic and well as research. This serves to promote both an understanding of the critical process and, when local issues are examined, it allows the students to construct their own understanding of the relationship between critique and social transformation.

Critical Peace Education 

Critical peace education is the result of applying critical pedagogy to realms and issues that concern the development or degradation of peace.  Although the scholarly discourse in the field has not been widespread, several notable scholars have contributed to the theory. The work of Paulo Freire, as discussed in an earlier section, was influential in the development of critical pedagogy for peace education. The theoretical framework has been discussed by only a few – notably Christoph Wulf in the early 1970s and, more recently, Lourdes Diaz Soto. The impact of this theoretical framework, however, has been demonstrated by the works of Carl Mirra and Ken Montgomery, both of whom take critical peace education perspectives in their work, turning the ideas proposed into specific critiques which may be used as examples for critical pedagogues everywhere.

Christoph Wulf

Christoph Wulf is a seminal figure in critical peace education. Wulf's theory revolves around tracing the roots of violence back to the original cause. At the time of Wulf's writing in the 1970s, more attention was regularly paid to the direct causes of violence, rather than an in-depth examination of societal institutions that can lead to structural violence. Wulf demonstrated the timeless principle of interdependence; that is to say, all things are with cause. The concepts central to Wulf's work were structural violence, organized peacelessnesss, and participation (Bajaj, 2008, p. 137-138).

 

There are a number of themes that emerge in Wulf's work that became central tenets of peace education - most notably that social and economic justice are necessary for comprehensive peace.  This principle emphasizes that local power dynamics, such as excessive discrepancies in power, tend to lead to negative peace or structural violence.

 

Wulf attempted to draw attention to the conditions in which peace deteriorates into violence. He has stated that “critical peace education stems from an explicit understanding of peace education as a criticism of society” (Bajaj, 2008, p. 138) Critical peace educators must foster in their students the ability to question and criticize their structural institutions and power dynamics in their contexts: local, regional, and global. We must be able to look back and see with clarity what has created violence in other societies, and we must ask if these conditions exist in our own society.

 

Two critical components of this education are now apparent: student comprehension of societal institutions and how power imbalances can create structural violence, and the creation of a critical consciousness in our students. The former is achieved through research, and the latter through critical pedagogy. This summation of these two becomes Critical Peace Education.

Lourdes Diaz Soto

Lourdes Diaz Soto revived critical peace education in her 2005 work, Power and Voice In Research With Children. It should be noted that while Diaz Soto uses the same phrasing as Wulf, their ideas of what constitutes critical peace education vary. Diaz Soto defines her goal within the United States' domestic sphere, yet her principles of what should constitute critical peace education may be transferred globally. Diaz Soto (2005) defines that critical peace education should:

  • Ensure that issues of power are central to collaborative dialogues.  
  • Recognize the need to pursue spiritual aspects of questions. 
  • Allow Friere's transformative pedagogy to guide the need for consciousness raising. 
  • Move beyond European colonizing lens while recognizing the need for a decolonizing lens.  
  • Realize the need for inclusivity, thereby driving us beyond identity politics. 
  • Implement needed community actions projects with a Participatory Action Research/feminist lens. 
  • Reach our Dreamspace for social justice with equitable economic distribution. 
  • Rely on Love as an inclusive alternative paradigm in solidarity transcending existing conditions and reality (p.  96). 

 

These principles provide a number of considerations for critical peace educators, which they may demonstrate to their students so that the students might understand possible lenses of critique. Through this critique, questions arise, and answers are explored. Students and educators then have a framework of concepts that allow for in-depth analysis of complex topics – perhaps the most significant aspect of critical peace education.

Best Practices

This critical perspective is what educators must focus on in critical peace education. Specific cases must be tailored for the local context; in the case of history, it must be the local narratives that are challenged so the criticisms assume a relevance to the students (Giroux, 1989, p. 146-150).

 

It may also empower students when a local widespread belief is challenged and critically analyzed. This can be done through a direct in-class examination of such a belief, when the instructor presents the belief and invites the students to work through specific case studies in groups. The instructor will ask the students to distill a narrative of whether or not the actions in the material provided support the belief. The critical process is then realized in the student.

 

However, such a process should not be used when attempting to create a critical peace consciousness, as the nature of the directed readings will necessarily lead towards the inclusion of the instructor's bias (Giroux, 1989, 138). The creation of a critical consciousness focused around peace demands that educators strike a balance between providing students with independence and focusing on issues that are key to peace. This is most effectively done by the introduction of a topic and all relevant resources, and then asking the students to research the topic in depth to arrive at their own point of view. The instructor should be indirectly involved only in the second stage, by directing the student towards resources concerning the issues selected by the student.  It is absolutely essential that teachers do not provide a personal inclination towards one side or the other. The classroom must be a safe environment in which the student is allowed to come to any conclusion – even one the instructor disagrees with.

 

 As instructors, we must be conscious of the political nature of critically addressing social issues. Though critical pedagogy does not necessitate difference from the status quo, often it materializes as such. However, Henry Giroux has noted that schools never exist as apolitical institutions; instead, through a series of funding, grants, teachings, and supported curriculum, often schools represent truth as the narrative of the dominant class. Instead of attempting an impossible apolitical perspective, critical educators attempt to demonstrate the inherent multi-sided nature of all situations, narratives, explanations, and truths. If students realize critical consciousness, then both sides should be examined (Giroux, 1989, p. 138-141).

Example: Mathematics (Buxton, 1985)

The final subject to be addressed is the universality to which critical consciousness applies. It does not apply only to studies such as history or language; developing a critical consciousness can be done with any content. Mathematics is often seen as the field where it is very difficult to apply critical consciousness. The following example demonstrates applying critical consciousness to the simple task of memorizing the multiplication tables. This example is one of critical pedagogy, rather than specifically critical peace education. However, there is a very large demonstrable overlap between the two fields. Empowerment and critical thought, though not focused on peace, still have echoes in social transformation.

 

x

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

1

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

2

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20

3

3

6

9

12

15

18

21

24

27

30

4

4

8

12

16

20

24

28

32

36

40

5

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

6

6

12

18

24

30

36

42

48

54

60

7

7

14

21

28

35

42

49

56

63

70

8

8

16

24

32

40

48

56

64

72

80

9

9

18

27

36

45

54

63

72

81

90

10

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

As can be seen, the multiplication table has 100 squares to memorize. To memorize 100 products of all permutations between 10 different numbers is a momentous task, and not a good use of the student's time. To emphasize critical consciousness, we must ask the student which products they do not need to memorize. The student may critically analyze the situation and come to the following conclusions:

Conclusion 1: 6x7 = 42 and 7x6 = 42; half of this table repeats itself, with the exception of squares, and therefore does not need to be memorized. 55 products remain to be memorized.

 

Conclusion 2: There are a number of multiplication products that follow a pattern, and we only need to memorize the pattern. Examples of this are the x1 , x2, x5, x9 and x10 tables. There are 21 products that remain to be memorized.


Conclusion 3:
Depending on the level of the student, they may believe x3 and x4 tables are simple, and may be calculated on-the-spot. If this conclusion is made, then only 10 products remain to be memorized.

 

x

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

1

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

2

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

20

3

3

6

9

12

15

18

21

24

27

30

4

4

8

12

16

20

24

28

32

36

40

5

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

6

6

12

18

24

30

36

42

48

54

60

7

7

14

21

28

35

42

49

56

63

70

8

8

16

24

32

40

48

56

64

72

80

9

9

18

27

36

45

54

63

72

81

90

10

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

 

 

 

{6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, 7x7, 7x8, 7x9, 8x8, 8x9, 9x9}

 

 

 

Allowing the students to come to these conclusions by providing the time for critically evaluating the material has value that far exceeds the value gained from strong numeracy skills. It also demonstrates that any material can be critically evaluated.

Conclusion

From critical peace education, we must understand a few principles, rather than a few practices. Educators must come to realize that problems must be defined on a local basis; they must emphasize research and reason as the methods in which students formulate their own solutions. Finally, they must allow the student to create this understanding on his own. There are innumerable ways to create a critical consciousness in a student, as long as it is done in a way that is relevant to the student’s context. As Henry Giroux has said, we must do one thing – educators must argue and insist that schools function as a social form that expands human capability – on all fronts (Giroux, 1988, p. 237).

Sample Lesson

 

The following learning activity is a device to encourage learning for responsible social action, and participation for civil society action campaigns for justice and peace, major educational goals for peace education (Reardon & Cabezudo, 2002).

 

Source

Adapted from the New Zealand Foundation for Peace Studies, Extending Perfect Relationships: A Selection of Activities for Classes and Groups of Secondary Age (ages 11-14), 1986, Auckland, p. 67.

 

Grade Level and Subjects

Middle Grades 6-10; social studies, global issues, world cultures, current affairs

 

Materials

Background study materials, materials on disarmament, etc., copies of the Hague Agenda, copies of The Staircase

 

Methods

Positing alternatives, active dialogue

 

Concepts

Citizen action, civil society, cooperation

 

Objectives

Students will

  • Understand the value of social responsibility
  • Gain skills in devising and proposing alternative solutions to problems
  • Enrich knowledge of practical possibilities for disarmament

 

Procedures

  1. Begin by introducing the topic of disarmament as the most promising route to the prevention of armed conflict and war. Explain the concept of disarmament, explaining that disarmament will require more vigorous efforts and stronger institutions for nonviolent conflict resolution. Assign the Hague Agenda for homework reading.
  2. What can be done to ease/solve the problems of armed conflict and war (or other global problems) that we are studying at the present? Consider the 50 points of the Hague Agenda. Which of these points or proposals could lead to disarmament? Follow the steps of the staircase below to consider the tiers of possible action. For each step, think about ways to achieve the given proposals you have identified or the broad social goal you would like to see realized.
  3. Review the 50 Recommendations of the Hague Agenda, focusing special attention on the recommendations presented on the strand for “Disarmament and Human Security.” Write the number of the recommendation in the stair level at which each might be most effectively pursued.
  4. Students should then take time to consider the many alternatives and discuss the various levels of action, including all proposals.
  5. Once these alternatives have been discussed and considered, plan action steps in which the students could be involved at each level. Explain the many developments to enhance peace and justice at the international level begin with steps taken by individuals and small groups of citizens; students can take action as global citizens that can ultimately lead to major global changes.

 

 

The Staircase:

 

Questions for Comprehension and Reflection

  • What are the key principles of critical pedagogy and critical peace education?
  • Why is critical pedagogy important for peace education? 
  • What are some ways in which you can integrate critical peace education into your classroom practice? How can you promote critical thinking given your existing curricula? Be specific.

References 

Bajaj, M. (2008). Critical Peace Education. In M. Bajaj, (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of Peace Education. New York: Colombia Teacher's College.

 

Barber, B. (1984). Strong Democracy: Participating Politics for a New Age. Berkeley: University of California Press. 

 

Buxton, L. (1985). Mathematics for Everyone. New York: Schocken Books. 

 

Diaz-Soto, L. 2005. How can we teach peace when we are so outraged? A call for critical peace education. Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education. Fall-Winter, p. 91-96.

 

Giroux, H. (1988). Schooling and the struggle for public life: Critical pedagogy in the modern age. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

 

Giroux, H. (1989). Schooling as a Form of Cultural Politics: Toward a Pedagogy of and for Difference. In H. Giroux and P. McLaren, (Eds.), Critical Pedagogy, the State, and Cultural Struggle. Albany: State University of New York Press.

 

Livingstone, David. (1987). Critical Pedagogy and Cultural Power. Massachusetts: Bergin and Garvey Publishers.

 

Mirra, C. (2008). U.S. foreign policy and the prospects for peace education. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.  

 

Shor, I. (1992). Empowering Education: Critical Teaching for Social Change. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

 

Wulf, C. (1973). Kristiche Friedenzerhung. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

 

Wulf, C. (1974). Handbook of peace education. Frankfurt, Germany: International Peace Research Association.        

 

 

 

 

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