The Flight of the Dove: Building Culture of Peace in the Classroom

Synopsis as published on http://lsr.edu.in/BElEd%20seminar.htm

Many regions around the world have been witness to violent conflicts and wars that cause unimaginable grief, loss and pain. The changing nature of conflict and the increasing dangers it poses to humanity present formidable challenges to governments, policy makers, and academia to effectively devise policy, tools and interventions directed at subjugating all forms of violence. With armed conflicts destroying the lives of millions of people, questions of how peace can triumph over violence continue to burn. The answers to many of these questions lie in the understanding that conflict does not begin in battle fields. It germinates in the minds of men and women. Therefore it is only by changing minds that peace can emerge victorious. And the best way to change minds is through education. Peace education is a field dedicated to empowering learners with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to end violence and injustice and promote a culture of peaceIt is education that is directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Peace education promotes understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups.

The continuum of physical, cultural and structural violence and its consequences cuts across conventional boundaries. From the battleground to family, community, nation, region and school, all spaces can inhibit cultures of peace.  Consequently for those who seek to employ education as the tool to create peace, the classroom is an extremely important site of enquiry. Schools and classrooms can be seen as microcosms of larger conflicts that play themselves out on the canvass of nation and identity and it is here that images and ideas around violence can be deconstructed.The space for peace education within the framework of the National School Curriculum document is compellingly clear in the light of the escalating trends of, and taste for, violence globally, nationally and locally. Education in the true sense should empower individuals to clarify their values, to choose the way of peace rather than violence; to enable them to be makers of peace rather than only consumers of peace.

We the research team of the Innovation Project of Lady Shri Ram College for Women have sought to explore and understand how these issues manifest in the classroom, through an inter-disciplinary research project entitled “The Imprisoned Dove: Transcending Conflict and Building Cultures of Peace.” The present seminar is an outcome of this project. This project brings together perspectives from the disciplines of Psychology, Education and Political Science. The aim of this project was to delve into the various ways in which identity, education and nation-state interact to facilitate or inhibit cultures of peace in the teaching learning process in India. More specifically, we have tried to look at how schools, curricula, pedagogy and teacher education facilitate or inhibit cultures of peace in the teaching-learning process in this nation. Further, we have explored adolescents’ sense of religious identity, the relationship between individuals and the state, and how conflicts emanating from religious identity may play out in the classroom.

The participants of our study belong to two Indian states- Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi. The sample comprised of 13 school principals, 35 teachers and 321 adolescents studying in grades IX and X. In line with the interdisciplinary nature of the project, methodological triangulation was adopted, using both quantitative and qualitative techniques. The methods used in the study including questionnaires, interviews and drawings provided several interesting insights into the areas of investigation.

It is envisioned that the panel discussion titled Education for Peace: Perspectives and Praxis, being held during the seminar will provide a context and platform for dialogue between various stakeholders- administrators, teachers, teacher educators and researchers, to deliberate and discuss a multitude of issues and perspectives of peace-building processes in the classroom. It is also hoped that the panel discussion will help in bridging the chasm between policy and practice and reiterate the role of education not just in peace building but also for the sustenance of peace. The panelists with diverse and rich academic experiences will not only give feedback on research findings  but their perspectives will help us to forge a new understanding at the praxis level which is the need of the hour. As part of our interventional strategy, workshops are being conducted to impartcultural diversity training to adolescents to address their identity issues and equip the teachers with pedagogical strategies to deal with issues of identity and conflict in the class room.

We hope that the shared understanding and collective wisdom emerging from this seminar will provide building blocks that will impart pedagogy and contribute in charting a new vision of building cultures of peace.

A report was also published on the Innovation Project in the Hindustan Times:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Kashmiri-students-less-cynical-than-Delhi-counterparts/Article1-988938.aspx

The following are the reports of the events-

Workshop on Pedagogy for Peace by Ms. Shweta Jani:

https://lsrpsychology.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/workshop-on-pedagogy-for-peace-a-report

Worskshop for students on Deconstructing the Other by Ms. Jaya Iyer:

https://lsrpsychology.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/workshop-for-students-on-deconstructing-the-other-by-ms-jaya-iyer

Workshop for students on Appreciating Diversity by Ms. Shweta Jani:

https://lsrpsychology.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/the-flight-of-the-dove-building-cultures-of-peace-in-the-classroom/

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