‘Each year International Day of Peace is observed throughout the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this is a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.’ (Source: United Nations website)
Peace education is a subject that should be integral to our curriculum as an important educational objective. As language teachers we prepare our students to be good communicators in a foreign language, and we also teach the culture of different English-speaking countries. What can be a better setting for talking about the idea of peace and tolerance than a multicultural curriculum?
What are the best approaches to peace education in the classroom?
If you are teaching young learners, the best practice you can follow is reading children’s books. Ideas like acceptance, respect, responsibility and tolerance cannot be taught in a direct way through discussions, but you can introduce them indirectly through stories offering models for them to aspire to in day-to-day life.
Here are some Helbling Young Readers that you can use. Each reader offers fun activities and downloadable projects. www.helblingyoungreaders.com
Teens and Young Adults
1 Do a group brainstorming activity as an easy warmer to introduce discussion topics. Write the word ‘peace’ on the board and ask your class what it means to them. Talk about peace in various realtionships and environments: friends, family, school, neighbours, cities, nations.
2 Give your students five quotes about peace. Ask them to choose their favourite and talk about what it means to them.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”
3 Visit the website of United Nations. Do some research the Internet the learn about the topics below. These topics give you a good overview of the various aspects of peace in our world.
- Ecological thinking and respect for life
- Tolerance and respect for dignity and identity
- Critical thinking, active nonviolence
- Social justice and civic responsibility
- Leadership and global citizenship
4 Recommend readers that talk about ideas like tolerance, social equality and justice. You can find two original stories in the Helbling Readers series.
- The Anti-bully Squad by Rick Sampedro is about a young boy who gets bullied in school, but his friends get together to stop the bullies.
- The Coconut Seller by Jack Scholes introduces topics like tolerance and respect among others.