Educating for a Peaceful Future

David C. Smith And Terrance R. Carson. (Toronto: Kagan And Woo Limited, 1998) 284 Pp.

David Smith and Terrance Carson believe that schools can contribute to peace, and their book Educating for a Peaceful Future explores how this might be possible. The first section examines the historical development of peace education, beginning just before World War I. Peace education enjoyed considerable respect and popularity in that period. Smith and Carson ask why, with the popularity and official support, education for peace did not succeed. They blame it on educators' failure to recognize the effects of the dominant curriculum, which stressed nationalism and competitive individualism.

For Smith and Carson, peace education confronts three interrelated crises: the crisis of global conflict management, the crisis of development, and the crisis of the global market economy. Their definition of what constitutes an appropriate peace education today has seven comprehensive dimensions, similar to UNESCO's dimensions of an evolving culture of peace. Smith and Carson do not address the full participation and empowerment of women, and I see the omission of a gender perspective as a problem throughout the book.

The long section on how to infuse education for peace into the curriculum will be useful for high school teachers and administrators and those involved in teacher training and development, the likely intended audience of the book. This part is full of thought-provoking suggestions ( I found the chapter on mathematics particularly imaginative and interesting).

Part 3, which looks at changing the culture of the school shows that educating for peace requires more than changing the curriculum, but also a critical framework for peace education. The prevailing culture of violence is reflected in educational systems in ways beyond just curricular content. It is difficult to counter such trends as reduced funding for education, corporate sponsorship of schools, the elimination of programs deemed unnecessary in favor of the "important" subjects, and the dismal employment prospects facing most school-leavers. Educating for peace remains a difficult challenge and a vitally important task. Teachers and those involved in educational policy should read Educating for a Peaceful Future. Its far-reaching analysis and useful suggestions make it an important voice in the debate on how this will be possible.

Reviewed by Anne Adelson

Peace Magazine Jan-Feb 1999

Peace Magazine Jan-Feb 1999, page 30. Some rights reserved.

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