Sowing seeds of peace: some thoughts on peace education


Members of Kingston Peace Council decided to use an opportunity on

21 September – the UN International Day of Peace – to think about peace education. We wanted to consider if there was anything we as a group could do to support work in schools. That was the context.


We know that teachers are already providing education on peace issues particularly in the citizenship curriculum but also in history lessons and many other areas. We, as members of a peace group, are not setting up as experts on these complex issues but our information and experience can perhaps be a resource for schools.



‘Since wars begin in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.’ (From the Preamble to the UNESCO Constitution)



A culture of peace is defined by the United Nations as ‘All the values, attitudes and forms of behaviour that reflect respect for life, for human dignity and for all human rights, the rejection of violence in all its forms and commitment to the principles of freedom, justice, solidarity and understanding between people’.


1.0                    ‘Sowing Seeds of Peace’

The title of the event on 21 September was ‘Sowing Seeds of Peace’ and the aim was to look at positive models and ideas around peace and peace building and to ask if we, as members of a peace group, had anything to offer schools. Our speakers addressed some of the root causes of violence as well as conflict resolution and the need for a just peace.


We believe many people - specially young people - see the world as a fraught and insecure place and the future as uncertain. Recent reports have highlighted this. However as writer and activist Tony Kempster said ‘We owe it to young people to set out the optimistic alternative, including the vision of an end to military conflict. A world without optimism is a truly dangerous place.’ Members of KPC believe that as a community we need to put a positive message about peace across to the young. We need to look at peace building, conflict resolution and reconciliation. The importance of getting a peace message across to young people was warmly endorsed by both Ed Davey MP for Kingston and Susan Kramer MP for Richmond Park who attended the event on 21 September.


The question is ‘Are there ways of inspiring young people with positive ideas of peace – the villages in Africa that accept returning child soldiers, the work of the United Nations and the lives of men like Gandhi?’ Any talk of peace has to be related to the world in which the young people live. How do young people deal with conflicts in relationships? What makes them feel safe?




Ideas coming out of the day included


  • A focus on the UN International Day of Peace in September 2008

encouraging all schools in Kingston and Richmond to mark the day. This included the suggestion of some type of event that involved the whole school but maybe that is a bit ambitious.


  • Meeting individual teachers to ask what kind of initiatives they would find most helpful and how any contribution could complement their work. Plus providing some peace education resources.


  • Assemblies/talks on


Peace What does peace mean for you? Peace at a personal level. Peace in daily life. How do we achieve peace? Peace and justice. Consensus.


Conflict, violence and non-violence Dealing with conflict. Assertiveness and aggression. Violence and its effects. Non-violence. Gandhi.


The United Nations and international peace  What is the UN? How does it work? What can it do? Could we do without it?


Weapons and the arms trade What makes you feel safe? Does carrying a knife protect you? What makes countries safe? The arms trade. Extract from Mark Thomas film on schoolchildren & the arms trade


What can you do?  Discussion and listening to the opinions of others. Being at active citizen.  Peace marches. Writing to your MP. Joining an organisation. ‘For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.’