HOW CHILDREN UNDERSTAND WAR & PEACE: A Call for International Peace Education.
Through an interpretation of this basic research, the authors hope that the education community will recognize its roles and responsibilities for helping new generations solve the problems of this violent world. The authors' goals are praiseworthy, and aimed at those who can recognize that children should acquire an understanding of peace and conflict from an early age, honing the skills of peacemaking by solving conflicts.
Part One covers developmental perspectives of psychologists and educators from the Netherlands, Portugal, and the United States. The second part emphasizes the effects of socialization and experience in Northern Ireland and Israel. A Finnish researcher, concentrating on the characteristics of concept formation (war and peace) among children whose nations were at war, cites this essay written by an 11-year-old Palestinian girl:
I return home from school. There are no soldiers in the streets. My mother comes to kiss me ... her kisses are different. They are like soft roses, but usually when she kisses me I feel the thorns of the roses in her embrace. She is always worried, sad and afraid of the soldiers. (p. 140)
Educators will find the section titled "Learning in Schools" of great interest. Pioneering work on curriculum, teaching conflict resolution, peer mediation, cooperative learning, as well as an enriched discussion of academic controversy (which is used frequently in classrooms) are included in this part of the book. Kathy Bickmore concludes that in "every realm of school life," opportunities should exist for children to learn the skills of conflict resolution and peer mediation.
A final piece on "Types of Peace Education" outlines a holistic approach that may include educational, in-school experiences, but that also can embrace peace camps and community-based projects such as anger management support groups.
How Children Understand War and Peace may serve as a guide for a broad range of groups, including ACEI. Reviewed by Aline Stomfay-Stitz, Associate Professor of Education, University of North Florida, Jacksonville