Peace Education


The Peace Education Network Conference

This definitely wasn’t one of those study days where all that was required was to listen to the speakers and complete an evaluation form before leaving. There was music as we arrived and pretty soon we were all busy asking other people what they had had for breakfast and if they could say ‘peace’ in three different languages. So we were not just told that interactivity was important if we wanted to get our message across, but there was a lot of it about all day.


Anna Liddle from CND did an excellent workshop on ‘Exploring nuclear issues in the classroom’. She started by referring to the Doomsday clock which I thought was a good way of emphasising how urgent the problem is. She went on to suggest lots of different methods of engaging young people including showing us a very powerful Japanese cartoon film called ‘Barefoot Gen’. We also discussed the question of whether parents would complain if information was too graphic. Anna, who herself often gives talks in schools, seemed quite relaxed about this, and said she had not had complaints in spite of describing what happened at Hiroshima and what would happen if a bomb were dropped in the UK.


Anna recommended a ‘discussion line’ where a line - for example across the school hall - represented a spectrum of opinion from strong agreement to strong disagreement. Statements were read out and pupils positioned themselves on the line according to whether they agreed/disagreed and how strongly they felt. Individuals were then asked to explain why they had taken up a particular position. Anna said she thought this activity was particularly useful in bringing out the opinions of some of the quieter children because everyone had to take some position on the issues discussed. Some KPC members will recall taking part in a discussion line as part of the preparation for going to Faslane.


There was also an interesting talk from David Gee who has recently produced a report on armed forces recruitment. Newsletter readers may have come across comment on this report in the media. Though the Ministry of Defence would claim that soldiers visiting schools and giving talks is not a recruiting exercise David Gee felt that these visits tended to glamorise army life and that it was significant they were targeted at the poorer areas of the UK where recruitment was most likely.  Recently, too, Gordon Brown has said he wants to provide more opportunities for pupils from state schools to join cadet forces. These points just reinforce how important it is that children get information on peace and peace building. So . . . .