The Role of Education in Supporting a Culture of Peace
The following is a response to a chapter from Peace Studies teacher, Emily Zionts' graduate thesis...
“Education Programs and the Potential to Empower/Disempower Youth Activists” discusses the idea of a Culture of Peace. It says that in order to have a culture of peace in any community, understanding and equality must be reached. This is something that I had never seen implemented until I came to Woolman. I have, however, seen prejudices that create a “world with violent conflicts of unmatched magnitude.” Growing up, gender inequalities, racism, and other forms of structural violence were and still are extremely prevalent. A Culture of Violence has become the norm in too many communities around the world. Having spent most of my life in school, I have always seen a hierarchy based on age. It has been very hard for me to learn in my previous public school system because of ageism. I feel very disconnected from any teachers or other adults at school; therefore I usually have trouble listening to anything they say. Because of the power that the teachers hold, they would refuse to answer questions or teach what the youth in the class really needed to learn. That being said, standardized testing is a large part of my school’s curriculum. Four times a year, every freshman, sophomore, and junior in my school must take a shortened version of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) in order to practice for test in 11th grade. Our whole set of courses is based on preparing for these tests, or, as stated in the essay, “teaching to the test.”
Tying in with the Culture of Violence, I have certainly seen firsthand the section of The No Child Left Behind Act that requires schools to give students’ personal information to military recruiters. I have been sent mail, emails, and Facebook messages, along with receiving several phone calls. Also, recruiters come to our school about four out of the five days of the week during the school year during our lunches. They use tactics such as bribery, guilt trips, and even tell students that drinking ages are lower in the places that they might be stationed. Thus, violence is being intermixed with education and students relate the two. While joining the military is a personal decision for each 18 year old in America, recruiting has no place in our educational system.
I have personally seen the consequences of the culture of violence that currently has a position in our public schooling arrangement.