Peace at the Heart: A Relational Approach to Education in British Schools

Friday 22 December 2023

Gee, David, Brooks, Ellis, and Cartwright, Isabel. 2022. Quakers in Britain.

This report explains the need to teach peace in schools to actively support young people to learn not only academically but also to develop as persons in social environments. The authors emphasise the need to teach peace as not merely the absence of violence but as the presence of relationships that work well. This sentence is fundamental as the report addresses how to cultivate peaceful relationship(s) with oneself, others, and the wider world. For this, they outline four pillars of peace in schools; (1) individual wellbeing (peace with myself); (2) convivial peer relations (peace between us); (3) inclusive school community (peace among us); (4) the integrity of society and the earth (peace in the world). By referring to this framework, the authors provide practical ways for schools, teachers, and pupils to cultivate peace within and beyond classroom settings.

Furthermore, the authors draw on extensive research from various academic fields to assert the positive impacts throughout one’s life when learning how to relate well to oneself and others. Thus, to redeem some of the harms that are experienced in and outside school settings, like discrimination, bullying, and/or poor mental health, they underline the need to teach peace from an early age. Essentially, the report argues for a holistic approach that must be implemented/taken seriously by the school to teach peace in a sustainable and open-minded way. This report connects to other work from Quakers and peace education in our Library of Peace. In further relevance to our wider work, it provides insight into what peace education is and how our research can support the peacebuilding work done in schools.  

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