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Peace education

Windows of opportunity

A number of factors are coming together which could allow the Scottish peace movement to take forward a range of initiatives within the Scottish Education system. Some obviously relate to the attitude of the new Scottish Executive towards nuclear disarmament. Others were in place and have been developing, albeit at different speeds, under the old administration. These opportunities can be found in all sectors and at all levels, from the nursery school to the university, and many of them were touched upon in the Peace Education workshop at the Partick Burgh Halls conference in May.

Justice & Peace Centre
Isobel Lindsay presented a paper describing not only why but also how a Scottish Peace and Justice Institute could be established. Using a relatively modest sum found from the existing resources of the Scottish higher education budget, it would be established in one of our universities. Scotland International, as Isobel termed it, could focus upon policy development, educational and project work .It could take forward initiatives such as:


  • The promotion of informed understanding of international issues to the general public, media and specialist groups.

  • Provision of a centre for visiting contributors from home and abroad on peace and justice issues and the establishment of overseas links.

  • Development work on conflict resolution and on global justice themes.

  • The production of publications and possibly the provision of short courses

Discussion focused upon how existing peace and justice initiatives would relate to such a centre and the breadth of its remit in terms of conflict resolution issues.

Peace Studies

David Mackenzie focused upon how peace studies might be developed within the day school sector. He highlighted a series of initiatives which would fit well with the peace studies agenda, ranging from specific projects designed to

promote positive behaviour and the fact that there is a general shift towards what could be described as more pupil focused teaching and learning methodologies like the Assessment is for Learning programme. Importantly he identified the opportunities that Education for Citizenship now and the new Curriculum for Excellence in the near future will present to those teachers who wish to embed peace studies into what they teach and how they teach.

Discussion focused upon some of the practicalities relating to taking forward these potential opportunities and making them real. Clearly issues of resourcing, not only in term of materials, but having enough space and time within the day school to make sure peace studies develops a durability that often eludes new curricular initiatives.

The Education Sub Committee of SCND has already started to take forward some of these initiatives, particularly those relating to the day school sector. Discussions are at an early stage with some Modern Studies teachers on how SCND can usefully support what is taught in relation to international relations, conflict and conflict resolution. The peace movement should be developing accessible materials that will support the work of personal and social education as well as religious education teachers. It was also felt that SCND’s online educational resources need to be updated and it was pointed out that a review of that part of the SCND web site is already underway.

There was general agreement that the four capacities that underpin the Curriculum for Excellence provides the peace movement with a window of opportunity. The four capacities which are to overarch the whole of the day school curriculum provide SCND an opportunity which cannot be ignored.

As the recent Scottish election showed, international relations and defence are no longer peripheral issues pushed aside by what some describe as the bread and butter issues. Scotland’s day school curriculum and higher education structure needs to reflect this.

Bill Ramsay

Nuclear Free Scotland Magazine - June 2007

 
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