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Education

Put peace at the heart of education, say Quakers

A new report from Quakers in Britain shines a light on schools using peaceful and just learning environments to tackle the problems facing British school children, from mental ill-health to violence. Since inception in the 17th century, Quakers have put the realization of God’s peace on Earth at the core of their faith and this report highlights the work needed in schools to achieve that aim.

The report, Peace at the Heart: a relational approach to education in British schools – written by David Gee with Ellis Brooks and Isabel Cartwright – calls on the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments to support peace education in line with their international commitments. Against a rapid rise in school exclusions and zero tolerance behavioral approaches, the report provides teachers and school leaders with compelling evidence of the benefits of integrating peace education. This includes particular processes like peer mediation and citizenship education.

Peace at the Heart builds on decades of Quaker history delivering and supporting peace education at a local and national level, making the case that learning to relate well to others is crucial in 2022 more than ever.

The study finds schools which incorporate peace education enable rights to flourish, increase wellbeing and reduce exclusions. “Research has found that young people who develop their empathic imagination become less likely in adulthood to indulge in bullying, sexism, racism, generalized prejudice against out-groups, social dominance, authoritarianism and homophobia.

“Under-cultivated empathy, on the other hand, is socially corrosive,” the report says. “It critically diminishes moral reasoning and prosocial behavior and risks normalizing violent behavior into adulthood.”

Recommendations include calling on the governments of England, Scotland and Wales explicitly to recognize a duty to educate for peace and on teacher training bodies to embed peace education as a dedicated study stream for the initial training and continuous professional development of school and college teachers.

A launch webinar for the report on 11 May was attended by 175 people, including many teachers and such specialists as the Cambridge Peace Education Research Group and the School of Education at Worcester University. Ann Farr and Aisling Griffin of Pax Christi were there. And some from as far afield as Argentina and Indonesia.

LINKS

Download the full report: https://bit.ly/download-peace-at-the-heart
Pax Christi Peace Education Resources: https://paxchristi.org.uk/peace-education/

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