Peace Education Pedagogy

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1. Peace Education as Pedagogy

Lesson Objective

At the end of this session, the participants will:


  • Understand form, content, and structure and the importance of considering each in peace education
  • Understand the importance of pedagogy in peace education
  • Be able to discuss the key pedagogical principles of peace education
  • Apply key pedagogical principles of peace education in their classrooms

Guiding Questions

Before you read this section, consider the following questions:

  • ·         What approaches do I use in my classroom? Do I use many different ones or rely on a few key ones? Try to make a “pedagogy inventory” of your teaching style.
  • ·         What is the relationship between where I teach and how I teach?


Introduction: Form, Content, and Structure

In peace education, how we teach is just as important as what we teach. Pedagogy is the form that peace education takes, and it consists of the teaching approaches and methods used by peace educators. Pedagogy answers the question how. In every educational setting, peace educators should consider the content, structure, and form in which they are teaching. The pedagogical principles of peace education can be used in any area of teaching. The form of peace education includes pedagogy, but is also more than just the teaching methods used. It also includes elements such as the student-teacher relationship and communication style.


The content is what is being taught and studied. The content may vary, but should be related to the students' lives. The educator should guide the students in making connections between the content, their own lives, and possible contradictions.


The structure is the educational setting, answering the question where, but it is more than just the physical environment. For example, if one is teaching in a formal school setting, the physical space is one component. Other components might include the administration, the rules and regulations of the school, the curriculum (for example, if there is a mandatory curriculum that must be followed), policies, etc.


According to Haavelsrud (1996), there is a dialectical relationship between the form and content, in which the “form determines the content and the content determines the form” (p. 39). Haavelsrud further points out that this relationship is particularly important in peace education because the content is not always known, but is rather produced through the process of education (1996).


Form, content and structure should be considered in all educational situations. Here, we will focus on the form, or pedagogy, of peace education.


Most teachers may not have as much control over the content and structure in which they teach. The area where you have the most control is the form. Thus, if you find it difficult to integrate peace education content into your classroom, you can start with form – the how of teaching – which can be applied to any educational setting.

Peace Education Pedagogy

Peace education pedagogy can be used in all subjects and areas of teaching. While different themes of peace education, such as human rights or multiculturalism, can be taught as subjects themselves, these themes can also be integrated into other subject areas (for example, integrating human rights lessons into a math or social science class). The pedagogy of peace education can be applied in any area, subject or discipline. 


The pedagogy used in peace education is inextricably linked to the content. For example, if the teacher stands in front of a classroom lecturing about peace, this would not be peace education. This is because this type of practice relies on the oppressive, banking-style methods criticized by Paulo Freire (see earlier section on Freire for more on the banking system).


Key Pedagogical Principles of Peace Education

Virginia Cawagas (2007) has identified four key pedagogical principles in peace education:


  1. Holism: Demonstrating that all issues are interrelated, multidimensional, and dynamic. Holism stands in sharp contrast to the fragmented way in which school subjects are often taught. A holistic vision allows us to see the complex relationships of different issues. A holistic vision involves looking at the temporal (past, present, future, and how they interrelate) and spatial dimensions (from micro to macro, and across sectors of society) of an issue.


  1. Values formation: Cawagas writes, “Realizing that all knowledge is never free of values, educating for a culture of peace needs to be explicit about its preferred values such as compassion, justice, equity, gender- fairness, caring for life, sharing, reconciliation, integrity, hope and non-violence” (p. 302). Peace education involves teaching for these values in all educational interventions.


  1. Dialogue: According to Cawagas, “a dialogical approach cultivates a more horizontal teacher-learner relationship in which both dialogically educate and learn from each other” (p. 303). Dialogue is a key component of peace education pedagogy. In addition to class discussion, Cawagas suggests the following tools for dialogic pedagogy:


  • Guest speakers: For example, invite street children to a class to talk about their lives;
  • Web charting: Make a web chart using a theme (in a circle in the center), and sub-themes connected to the center, and draw connections;
  • Role-play: Have students act out a cross-cultural conflict;
  • Simulation: Simulate a small-arms convention for a lesson on disarmament; have students play different roles, such as that of an arms dealer, arms buyer, protester, etc.;
  • Singing;
  • Painting;
  • Poetry;
  • Small group discussion.


  1. Critical empowerment: Cawagas writes that “in critical empowerment, learners engage in a personal struggle to develop a critical consciousness that actively seeks to transform the realities of a culture of war and violence into a culture of peace and non-violence” (p. 304). Thus, through critical empowerment, learners develop a deeper understanding of problems, and are also empowered to take action to solve these problems. Critical empowerment also requires an understanding of power; in a system of inequitable power relations, empowerment involves reconstructing this system to one of more equitable, horizontal relations. 


In the later section, called Teaching and Learning Approaches, we will explore examples of different types of peace education pedagogy.

Questions for Comprehension and Reflection

  1. What are the key pedagogical principles of peace education? 
  2. Describe the content, form, and structure of your teaching.
  3. How can you use peace education pedagogy even when not directly using peace education content? Give an example.
  4. How can you integrate peace education pedagogy into all of your teaching? What would it look like from the students’ point of view?
  5. Which key pedagogical principles are you most likely to adopt in your classroom? Explain.


Cawagas, V. (2007). Pedagogical principles in educating for a culture of peace. In S. H. Toh &        V. Cawagas (Eds.) Cultivating Wisdom, Harvesting Peace. Brisbane, Queensland:     Multi-Faith Centre, Griffith University.



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