Parachutes and rainsticks: young children learn listening skills through play. (Photo: Jane Hobson)

Quakers hold conference on peace education for schools (UK)

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Quakers hold conference on peace education for schools (UK)

(Original article: Ekklesia.  June 24, 2016)

On a day when Britain awakes, divided and disappointed by the EU Referendum and bruised by acrimonious campaigning, Quakers in Britain will host a ground-breaking national conference for teachers to learn how to equip pupils to handle conflict in a constructive way and to develop critical thinking skills.

Educationalists from more than 80 schools across Britain will attend Learning Through Peace at Friends House in London. Quakers will work with others – Spiritual England, Peacemakers, The University of Winchester – to build the long-term merits of peace education.

Peace education teaches alternatives to violence. For more than 350 years, Quakers have worked for peace, not power, for co-operation, not aggression. This work includes peacebuilding in violent conflict, to challenging militarisation in schools and promoting peer mediation in the playground. The conference falls on the eve of Armed Forces Day and on the centenary of conscientious objectors courageously facing court martial and sentences of death for refusing to fight in World War I.

Isabel Cartwright, Peace education programme manager for Quakers in Britain, said “The Peaceful Schools Movement is so important. It’s civil societies’ way of helping teachers, governors, parents/carers, students and others, to inspire each other to take new steps to build a culture of peace, starting in our schools.”

“The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, earlier this month, called for the UK government to ‘intensify its efforts to tackle bullying and violence in schools, including through teaching human rights and improving students’ conflict resolution skills’,” she explained.

Learning though Peace is a national conference for primary schools. It will bring together head teachers, deputy and assistant head teachers, school staff and school governors. Schoolchildren will be helping facilitate workshops, taking part in the panel discussion and acting as roving reporters throughout the day.

There will be workshops and sessions. Organisations taking part include Quakers peace education staff, and Anna Lubelska, founder of the Peaceful Schools Movement ‘Go Givers’, Peace Jam UK, which links up with Nobel Peace Prize winners, Amnesty International and Spaces for Spiritual Living. Resources will be shared including Quaker Peacemakers’ Learning for Peace.

* More on Learning Through Peace here

* Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Around 23,000 people attend 480 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.

*Quakers in Britain http://www.quaker.org.uk/

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