As language educators, we are constantly looking for engaging and meaningful topics to use in our language classrooms. Peace Education offers us topics and issues that touch the lives of our students every day such as resolving conflicts, clarifying values, and understanding diversity. The language classroom also offers us the opportunity to help students address these issues through activities and tasks that are related to the content and that require the practice of language skills, social interaction skills, and critical thinking skills. Questions commonly asked about Peace Education and its implementation in the language classroom along with some brief answers are:

What is it? Peace Education is concerned with helping learners to develop an awareness of the processes and skills that are necessary for achieving understanding, tolerance, and good-will in the world today. Educating for peace means

  • Examining and discussing our values and attitudes towards diversity, cultural differences, tolerance, and human dignity
  • Developing language and social interaction skills to promote peaceful relations among people, among nations, and between human beings and the natural environment;
  • Learning to solve problems and to think critically regarding issues of conflict and violence.

Why try it? Our global existence depends on learning to live together without the threat of violence and conflict. Educators have the unique opportunity to promote peaceful co-existence by bringing the processes of peacemaking and peacekeeping to the attention of their students in the classroom. Reasons for educating for peace in the language classroom are

  • To make learners aware of the basis of conflict and how to resolve conflict in their daily lives;
  • To prepare students to become good citizens of their communities, nations, and the world with skills to promote peace and human dignity on all levels of interaction;
  • To use the classroom as a microcosm of a just world order, in which the global values of positive interdependence, social justice, and participation in decision-making processes are learned and practiced.

How to do it? Implementing peace education in the language classroom can be achieved several ways:

  • Using topics that raise the issues related to peace and cultural understanding in our classrooms, language teachers can give students basic information to help them develop positive attitudes and values related to "peaceful" living".
  • Engaging in activities that encourage cooperation, consensus building, and reflective listening gives students the skills they need to meet and resolve conflicts.
Confronting issues and problems related to the topics will provide opportunities for students to develop problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills along with language skills to express themselves clearly and convincingly.

In this volume, learners and teachers explore the concept of peace and peace education on the personal, community, and global levels. Topics for the ten chapters of the peace education volume will include

  • Conflict resolution
  • The language of non-violence
  • Cross-cultural understanding
  • Portraits of well-know advocates for peace on earth
  • Building social-competence skills, and
  • Developing attitudes and structures for peace making and peace keeping.
  • The content-based lessons will be aimed at the intermediate student with options for more advanced learners and incorporate
  • Cooperative learning,
  • Affective-humanistic activities,
  • Cross-cultural instruction, and
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

The activities will include building a lexicon as a basis for reading for information related to peace and peace education, followed by discussions, role-plays, and cooperative pair and group work based on the readings. The goal of the activities is to foster an awareness in the learners of the importance of peace in our world today and the ways that we all can be part of the peace making and peace keeping process. The activities are informative, fun, and designed to engage students in problem solving and critical thinking while practicing language skills.

Within the past ten years many excellent resources have become available to help teachers incorporate educating for peace in their classrooms. Suggestions offered in this unit come from these resources and from the materials prepared by faculty and participants at the 1995 TESOL Institute on Peace Education. We hope that you find the volume interesting and useful for your classroom. Please visit us often!

Carolyn Duffy


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