By Ashmeet Kaur*
This is in rejoinder to Swarna Rajgopalan’s (a peace educator) article on Teaching Peace: Learning Peace, published in The Hindu (an Indian daily) on 29 September, 2019 (see also the image below). I offer my views on the article including variance of understanding with the author in the following text.
Learning Peace: Teaching Peace
Education for Peace (henceforth Peace Education for the purpose of this text) instead of putting emphasis on teaching peace, emphasize on ‘being and becoming’ what we teach as the solemn narrative. Peace Education not only intends to build competencies, values, behavior, and skills to confront violence, but becomes a practice where the purpose (i.e. why to teach), the content (i.e. what to teach), and the pedagogy (i.e. how to teach) become conducive to nurturing values of peace (1).
Hence pro-peace learning does not only demand being didactic but peaceful itself. But to achieve this end, the means to achieve the end also has to be peaceful. And the best means remains a great teacher. A great teacher as rightly put by the author who is driven by instincts is a peace educator, because peace education is a social- human process. Cultivating these predispositions requires peace educators not to split their work from their lives. Work and life binary does not exist rather one enriches the other. Peace educators have exceptional opportunities to design a way of life not only for others but for themselves. Being a peace pedagogue is not just a way of career but a way of life. Peace educators work on themselves as they work towards finessing their craft. So much so their professional aspirations find value in their reason for being and vice-versa.
Peace Education not only intends to build competencies, values, behavior, and skills to confront violence, but becomes a practice where the purpose (i.e. why to teach), the content (i.e. what to teach), and the pedagogy (i.e. how to teach) become conducive to nurturing values of peace. (1)
Hence it is teachers’ innate self that finds expression in the daily routines of a school and it is from here that the learner picks up on the softest and most subtle cues for learning, as the author puts it “children witness our expression of prejudice”. The problem is that that this line of thought has not been considered as a problem accounting in the deficiencies of our education system or has been subdued that perusing such lofty aims of teaching is like war without training & resources for teachers.
This expression of writing also results from not a space of contempt but expansiveness to help communicate how the author’s expression fell through cracks in communicating ‘teaching’ as a gender-neutral profession. Though well-intended it must have been, but the author’s expression suggests a gender affirmative depiction of the teaching profession. It does not only suggest active exclusion of other gender(s) but gender inequality, discrimination and erasure. A ‘de fault’ expression of social normativity of occupational role could apparently reiterate established prejudice to the readers counterintuitive to the ideals of Peace Education. When ‘inclusion’ is peace value, exclusionary language appears oxymoronic.
Peace Education’s resonance is far beyond the boundaries of the school and the circumference of the curricula and makes room for the centrifugal presence of the pedagogical practice.
Peace Education both addresses the nature and purpose of learning. Peace Education’s resonance is far beyond the boundaries of the school and the circumference of the curricula and makes room for the centrifugal presence of the pedagogical practice. In terms of nature, it puts a gravitational load on the tacit and communal dimensions of learning. In terms of purpose, it helps in rethinking education towards outcomes that are desired by society. In nuce, it put forth a compelling argument in words of Prof Krishna Kumar that before education can be used to promote peace, its own humanistic potential has to be rescued (or achieved). As living those desired learning outcomes are precious, we peace educators carry inescapable responsibility. A great peace educator is one when ‘hen’ sees peaceful ‘way’ as ‘hen’ ‘goal’. Hen is a gender-neutral pronoun in Swedish; intended as an alternative to the gender-specific hon (she) and han (he). It can be used when the gender of a person is not known or when it is not desirable to specify them as either a ‘she’ or ‘he’.
About the Author
Ms. Ashmeet Kaur is a Ph.D. candidate at TERI School of Advanced Studies, New Delhi, India. Her research interest is Education for Peace attended to SDG Target 4.7. The research encapsulates an ethnographic study of an international residential school in India with the aim to deconstruct schooling within the humanistic ideals of Education for Peace. She has been an IEP Ambassador (Institute of Economics and Peace) for the year 2019-20. She holds a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Delhi, India.
- Kester, K. (2010). Education for peace: Content, form, and structure: Mobilizing youth for civic engagement. Peace & Conflict Review, 4(2), 1-10.