Ed­u­ca­tion for peace

The Korea Times - - OPINION - By Graeme Salt Graeme Salt is head­mas­ter of Dul­wich Col­lege Seoul, a part of the Dul­wich Col­lege In­ter­na­tional (DCI) net­work of schools. Reach him at Head­mas­[email protected]­wich-seoul.kr.

The In­ter­na­tional Day of Peace on Sept. 21 is al­ways rec­og­nized with sig­nif­i­cance at my in­ter­na­tional school, Dul­wich Col­lege Seoul. This is in part due to our prox­im­ity to a bor­der where a war is un­re­solved, but also be­cause of our ed­u­ca­tors’ call­ing to a higher pur­pose.

The pur­suit of peace and the nur­tur­ing of peo­ple will­ing and ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing on that goal is a wor­thy am­bi­tion that mo­ti­vates many in this pro­fes­sion. While we all know sin­gle days of sym­bolic ac­tion can­not alone solve ma­jor is­sues fac­ing hu­man­ity, we em­brace the In­ter­na­tional Day of Peace in the way it is pro­moted by the

United Na­tions, as a pow­er­ful op­por­tu­nity for ad­vo­cacy that helps sus­tain long-term val­ues.

Ac­cu­sa­tions of naivety in the field of Ed­u­ca­tion for Peace abound, and the chal­lenges of in­te­grat­ing its pur­pose should not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

This is not least be­cause per­pe­tra­tors of the very worst vi­o­lence have of­ten been very well ed­u­cated, in the tra­di­tional sense of hav­ing grad­u­ated from high-sta­tus in­sti­tu­tions.

It is also true that tol­er­ance has wrongly been pro­moted with blind ac­cep­tance of cul­tural norms, with­out the ap­pli­ca­tion of univer­sal val­ues in line with the equal­ity of the sexes and the rights of the child wher­ever they are born. When the pur­pose of na­tional ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems is so of­ten de­signed to pro­mote na­tional iden­tity, na­tional unity and na­tional eco­nomic strength, we can­not be sur­prised by the lack of fo­cus on fos­ter­ing char­ac­ter traits such as re­spect and com­pas­sion for oth­ers of dif­fer­ence, and the for­give­ness of egre­gious acts from the dis­tant past.

There are, how­ever, greater dangers than eye-catch­ing in­ter­na­tional con­flicts threat­en­ing our planet. In­ter-cul­tural and in­tra-na­tional vi­o­lence driven by dif­fer­ences of po­lit­i­cal out­look along­side the in­jus­tice of ever-in­creas­ing eco­nomic in­equal­ity are more sin­is­ter and creep­ing threats. There is surely much that ed­u­ca­tors could and should be do­ing to shape in­di­vid­u­als with the val­ues, knowl­edge and skills to be able to mit­i­gate these po­ten­tially cat­a­strophic is­sues, whether they be from an ex­ter­nal or in­ter­nal source.

In schools, we know you can­not teach val­ues ex­plic­itly. There is a say­ing of old, that val­ues should be “caught not taught,” that is, “caught” in the cul­ture of an in­sti­tu­tion. You can­not be told to love your neigh­bor, but you can learn to do so over time, and in the right place.

In­ter­na­tional schools can be (and in many cases are) the model for peace­ful co­he­sion within a com­mu­nity of dif­fer­ence in out­look and be­lief.

Sim­ply hav­ing con­tact with peo­ple of dif­fer­ence can lead to trust.

Where bet­ter than in in­ter­na­tional schools for this to be mod­elled, and then copied by those with an equal de­sire for a peace­ful fu­ture world?

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