Give Peace Education a Chance

Give Peace Education a Chance

Peace education: The process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and developing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors to live in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the natural environment.

The four pillars of peace education


1. Self Value and Self Respect

A. In understanding one’s self-worth, one can believe they deserve a just and peaceful society therefore becoming capable of striving for it.  If we are not to value and respect ourselves, then how can we envision the most just situation for ourselves and others

B. One must know one's self, their capacities and understand their thoughts if they are to contribute to such reason and deliberation towards a movement of peace.


C. It is also through love and respect of oneself that love and respect for others can be grown.  We must first love and understand ourselves as people in order to love and respect others as people


2. Appreciation of Diversity

A. As young children are constructing their views of the world around them and the people in it, teachers must help their students put experiences into relational perspective to build tolerance, appreciation and moral inclusion.


B. The teacher who is going to fully embrace peace education in the early childhood setting, must be willing to take a look at her/himself and the attitudes and values which s/he holds.  Teachers themselves must truly honor and respect differences in order to serve as a model for the young students.



3. Sense of Fairness/ Justice

A. As children are becoming aware of others' views and opinions, teachers and professionals working with young children must help them to understand their needs and wants as part of a whole.  If we are to build children capable of working towards a “common commitment to the general public good [and] a just distribution and equitable enjoyment of benefits and resources”


B. As children experience conflict, differences in opinion, or find themselves having unmet wants and needs it is possible that they may become confused, angry, or resentful.  It is the job of early childhood educators to help a child express those feelings in a healthy manner and work toward understanding the outcome. In a classroom community that supports peaceful conflict resolution, group cooperation, and peer understanding, children should be guided to work through the fairness/justice conflicts and eventually gain the skills to work through them more independently.  Whether it is an internal conflict based on an individual’s own need, the conflict of a single child and a peer, or group conflict involving the needs of the whole class, each can be a learning opportunity for the children.



4. Interconnectedness

A. If children are given the opportunity to see themselves as part of a whole in terms of solving conflict in a just and fair manner, children will begin to make sense of the interrelationships between themselves  and others.


B. It is also necessary that children be aware of their relationship with the natural environment.  Helping children in an unthreatening way, to “appreciate that their own survival and health depends upon the health of water, air, plants and animals” is an integral piece to giving them a sense of interconnectedness



How to build these four pillars

Creativity- Teachers can build upon the child’s natural creative inclination at this age by giving them various outlets in which to express their creativity.  Whether through play, art, building, constructing, storytelling, or physical adventures indoors and outdoors, creative thoughts and behaviors are valued in an early childhood setting which wishes to generate a peace pedagogy.


Critical Thinking- Activities that help children to interpret, wonder, question, reflect and take perspective. This may include having children carefully observe a painting, respond to each other's comments or making connections between new and previously learned information. In providing such experiences for young children, teachers are promoting skills for critical thinking.



Nature Component

1. Nature creates states of quiet and calm” through which children are given the means to digest and reflect upon their life experience.  The freedom and choice of work and play in nature inherently provides opportunities for confidence building, and advances in self-esteem, and self-efficacy, all necessary for developing value and respect for self.


2. Some research suggests that the capacity to care may be enhanced through experiences in and with nature.  A study by Maller’s indicates that children who engage in caring nature activities such as caring for plants and animals were able to easily transfer the skills over to caring and nurturing of people and considering the feelings of others


3. Outdoor time in nature is important “for children’s discovery of their environment and of their own place in the world.” If children do not understand the world in which they live, humans' role in it and how it functions as a system, they will not fully understand their own place and the impact they have on the world.


4. Experiences with the diversity of nature can lay way for the understanding of the diversity among people, creating similes, metaphors, contrasts and comparisons perhaps furthering the understanding of and appreciation for diversity which a child may encounter in various forms.  Time outdoors in an open-ended, natural environment will also provide the necessity for communication and collaboration between children, which is essential in getting to know a diverse range of people and understanding their ideas and thoughts.


What teachers can do

 Trusting relationships

A. First teachers must nurture a trusting relationship between themselves and students.  Over time, teachers can also help young children develop trusting, caring relationships with their peers


Building Self-Worth

B. Building self-worth, which is a “general belief about the event to which one is a good, capable individual,” can be fortified through giving children a variety of experiences, allowing them opportunity to do things on their own, appreciating their efforts and providing the opportunity to make choices


Equal Opportunity

C. Teachers can create an environment making no judgments or assumptions based on gender.  In an early childhood setting, this means creating equal opportunity for girls and boys to do the same work and have the same choices.This is important because “if early childhood children experience an environment in which both girls and boys are perceived and treated as being of equal worth, they will receive the message that human difference does not carry with it unequal human value.



D. Books and other classroom materials should include people of diversity - different races, cultures, family structures, women in roles that may not be seen in the mainstream. This is not meant to be a special once a year unit on diversity or differences but something to integrate and infuse into the early learning classroom.  To mirror this thoughtfully planned environment in their actions, teachers should provide opportunity for their students to be represented in a variety of roles regardless of race, gender, or other aspects of diversity and avoid prescribing “social norms” for gender, race or class.


Embrace all Questions

E. Those teaching young children should not put aside questions but assent to students' challenges and inquiries into what is going on in their immediate environment and the world around them.  Children at this age naturally want to know “why” and ask this on a regular basis. Teachers who strive to instill a sense of fairness and justice in their students will embrace these “whys” as opportunities to explore issues more deeply and critically


The attitudes are a reminder that we must each begin with ourselves, that children need their own peace of mind and self-respect before they can be concerned about others. The strong sense of fairness that many students have can, given appropriate learning experiences, become part of a commitment to justice, to caring for the planet, to becoming involved in political as well as personal change.

Additional Resources











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