What is Peace Education?

Jacob Queen

Peace education is designed to change the cultural leanings of children so that future generations are less violent and more oriented towards harmonious co-existence. It was originally designed to lessen the possibilities of a nuclear holocaust and decrease the chances of global war. Over the years, peace education has evolved to offer a more comprehensive set of skills, including interpersonal techniques for dealing with people on a day-to-day basis and teaching children to maintain inner peace.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

The ultimate hope for peace education is that the children will grow up with a respect for peace and an understanding of how to implement it. Groups who favor peace education think that this knowledge will eventually lead to a more peaceful society. There is often more focus on peace education in cultures where there is a lot of war or ethnic tension.

One of the fundamental aspects of peace education is teaching children to be more tolerant of differences in other societies. The approach used to teach these skills can vary depending on the culture being taught. Teachers will generally look to find a specific way of dealing with the personal prejudices and any regional issues in a given population. Sometimes allowances will be made for particular cultural leanings in order to achieve a more effective outcome. Peace education aimed at one society might even seem offensive on the surface to people in another society, but it is generally aimed at achieving the same basic goal.

Over the years, peace education has often become more focused on personal strategies for peace. One of the main ideas is that if a person feels peaceful inside, he or she is less likely to act in an aggressive or violent way. Many peace educators focus on teaching children to live in a peaceful state at all times, discouraging aggression and other negative feelings or behaviors.

A common focus of peace education is teaching children strategies for achieving peace, both on a personal and global level. They will generally learn about ideas like maintaining strength in order to discourage conflict, and mediation between parties in disagreement. Many classes teach children about the different issues that can lead to war, along with strategies for dealing with those issues. The kids are often encouraged to use these skills in their daily lives, and especially with other students. The general hope is that practical daily experience in implementing peace may translate into effective strategies on a global level as the children mature into adults and take leadership positions.

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Discussion Comments


@Ana1234 - The criticism that gets leveled at peace education most often is that it's fairly rigid and uneven, and isn't based around empirical evidence.

I definitely think there's a place in education for peace studies and I also think that there's even a place for education programs that are entirely based around peace.

But children aren't one dimensional and they aren't easily predictable. Just because people hope that a curriculum is going to teach them something, and it looks good on the surface, doesn't mean that it is actually going to teach them anything.

Just like anything else, education needs to be adapted to meet the needs of individuals, and it needs to be adapted to match evidence of the best practices possible.

You can't just sit the students down and sing peace songs every day, because it looks good to the parents. You actually need to do what works for them.


@irontoenail - I don't think it's quite that cultish. A peace education curriculum just has a bigger emphasis on conflict resolution. It's sanctioned and promoted by the UN and quite a few people who are considered to be role models for peace.

I think that people just get to the point where they associate even the word peace with something cheesy and fake, rather than with an important process for living.


This kind of thing gives me a bit of an uneasy feeling, to be honest. I know I should think that peace education sounds like a great idea and there are definitely parts of it that I like. And I don't know much about the peace education program, to be fair.

But I just don't like any kind of exclusive philosophy, that doesn't have room for the full range of the human experience. Sometimes you just have to be aggressive and I think that it's failing the student not to teach them how and when it's appropriate to do so.

If you don't teach them to fight back when fighting is necessary, then you may be doing them a big disservice. And, depending on how they respond to students who happen to be naturally more aggressive, they might be doing some damage as well.

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