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Peace Education Essay Sample

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Peace Education Essay Sample

Peace is not a new concept. People have been studying peace ever since there was conflict, loss, and the realization that we take peaceful times for granted. Peace education, as in peace taught in schools, on the other hand, has been forming mostly over the past three decades. There are several aspects of peace education that are essential knowledge when going to teach peace. In order for peace education to happen the teacher needs to take into consideration the child’spersonal history, the environment provided for learning, definitions of peace, the criticism of peace education, the rationale for peace education, the skills, knowledge, and attitudes it aims to develop, and how it relates to the general peace movement.

Peace research began as a response to World War II and the publics concern about a nuclear war. It started as a social science that looked at the problems of war in a systematic way as well as the quest for peace. These studies began in France at the Insititute Francais de Polaemologie and in a few graduate programs in the United States, such as Stanford, Northwestern and Yale. It focused primarily on foreign policy changes in a hope to prevent a World War III. The critics agreed that there needed to be peace research, but they believed it needed to be broadened. As it stood, peace research consisted of researching conflict not peace, and problems not the solutions. Over time these criticisms grew until the 1960s when they were coupled with the Third World Liberation movements, which created small scale revolutions and mounted up to the Indochina war. This was a turning point in peace research. Researchers began focusing on “positive peace” instead of reactionary peace. In 1966, John Galtung established the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO). Shortly after the establishment of PRIO, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) opened. These institutes remain to this day reputable and thoroughly used by scholars. In the United States, the peace research movement was taking form through colleges by publishing scholarly journals, such as the Journal of Conflict Resolution at Swarthmore College.

The end of the 1960s marked another shift in peace research. “We must gather together all the elements of this new world and organize tem into a science of peace.” (Montessori, 31) Peace science, as it was now deemed, was shifting from physical violence and war towards structural violence, such as capitalism, racism, colonialism, and imperialism. The shift inspired the United States to develop more radical means of peace, i.e. peace education. “Historians refer to this developmental shift as the ‘democratization of peace research.’” (Daniels, 102)

Peace studies (irenology) is defined as the “systematic, interdisciplinary study of the causes of war and the conditions of peace.” (Daniels, 103) Thus, in the 1970s peace studies began to be integrated not only into graduate programs, but undergraduate programs as well. It draws from history, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, physics, religion, linguistics, among others.

The peace education movement is part of the larger trend toward the acceptance of courses in social problems as necessary and legitimate components of the college curriculum. Its strong emergence is one culmination of the turmoil of the 1960s: Vietnam and students’ disgust at the close ties between the academic community and the military-foreign policy establishment; the depersonalization, overspecialization, and insensitivity to value questions of much of American education; the emergence of the counterculture with its emphasis on community building and rebellion against individual competition and achievement; and finally, the struggle to find workable strategies for effecting fundamental change in important American institutions. No institution has been more shaken by these upheavals than the university. The resulting fluidity in course requirements and offerings has finally made it possible to start peace programs on many campuses.” (Washburn, 1971)

All the institutions that created peace study courses had a similar approach in how to create the curriculum. It was created by the faculty and students, using many different disciplines, and remained very open to change. They also had a strong religious affiliation that supported their call for peace education.

The new realm of peace studies encountered a few problems when first beginning. Once the field of peace studies expanded past the study of physical and structural violence, it began to encompass many aspects of peace. Some of the problems the field still struggles with today. Defining peace studies became a major task for all institutions that offered it. Though there are several elements to the definition that are shared, such as:

. The purpose should be to involve large numbers of young Americans in some form of lifetime commitment to shaping a more just and peaceful world order through clarification of value perspective and development of action strategies and goals.

. The key issues and subjects should include the interrelated values of war prevention; worldwide economic welfare, social justice, and global ecological institutions and processes; tension reduction and conflict management domestic institutions and processes as they affect foreign policy; science, technology and their effects on global political development.

. The perspective or approach should be explicitly and critically concerned with values, future time oriented, global, and transdisciplinary.

. The teaching methods should encourage student participation and interaction; use a variety of teaching media, and offer possibilities for testing and action outside the classroom. (Washburn, 18.)

I appreciate all of the methods, courses, and ideas that have evolved over time regarding peace studies. Though, I would like to extend the study of peace all the way before kindergarten. I believe peace studies should happen at all ages, beginning in the home. There are several things parents can do to help their children take on the world. In her seminar on “Compassion is for Sissies” at the Globalization Conference, Dr. Sharon Shepela outlined a twelve step process on how to raise moral children. These twelve steps fall under three main categories: Develop Empathetic Reactions, Internalize parental/community standards of right and wrong, and Acquiring habits of courage, skills, and experience. These steps are:

. Help understand consequences of actions
. Help children put themselves in others places
. Help kids to see commonalities between ourselves and others
. Show them they are loved and cherished
. Guidelines for acceptable behavior
. Discipline through reasoning and discussion
. Show children by example how to treat others
. Explicitly condemn to your children acts of hatred and violence
. Give children frequent opportunities to perform small acts of kindness
. Use everyday opportunity to foster compassion and caring
. Emphasize children’s power to positively affect others’ lives
. Don’t stereotype girls’ and boys’ capacity to empathy

Most importantly, in my opinion, it is necessary to listen to children as people with valid opinions and ideas. If this happens at home, the children with be less likely to accept the passivity and complacency that is often unintentionally taught in schools. When begun in the home, it is much easier to make “A commitment to peace education [which] leads to a commitment to end sexism and racism and to the quest for ending the inequities that are manifested in every aspect of society- in the home, at school, in the workplace.” (Brock-Utne, 72)

When teaching peace, whether it is in the home, school, or daily life, it is important to be aware of the rhetoric used. When definitions of peace were first emerging, there was a large emphasis on peace as reactionary.

“What is generally meant by peace is the ceasing of war. But this concept, a purely negative one, is not the real concept of peace. Does not the history of mankind teach us that what we call peace is the forced adaptation of the vanquished to a state of submission which has become final, to the loss of all that they have loved, to the giving up of the fruits of their labour and of their conquests? Such a situation although it marks the end of fighting, cannot be given the name peace; on the contrary it is precisely that adaptation that constitutes the true moral tragedy of war.” (Montessori, 5)

The idea of negative peace is exactly what Maria Montessori spoke of. Negative peace is peace defined as the absence of violence, versus a definition that stands on its own. When people define war, they use words like, “violence” “power” “action” “blood,” which are all very strong words. When asked to define peace, most people use words such as, “calm” “quiet” “tranquil,” which all label peace as passive. Pacifists are not pass-ifists. This definition makes peace sound less appealing, almost boring, instead of something that is very exciting and can be very action oriented. As time passes the definition of peace and the words revolving around it, are slowly changing. “Instead of just being the absence of war, peace [is] now seen as involving co-operation and non-violent social change, aimed at creating more equitable and just structure in a society.” (Hicks, 6)

Within these new definitions of peace, we find many different ways of understanding and achieving peace. The first of these is peace education as peace through strength. This type of peace is strongly enforced in the government and armed forces. It is based on past and current history with an underlying need to maintain military power. In his book I’d Rather Teach Peace, Colman McCarthy said, “if we were going to win peace through war, it would have happened a long time ago.” I believe this relates to peace through strength, because acts of war are committed in order to maintain strength or achieve strength. “The means used to achieve the end must always be congruent with the end desired, that is non-violence is not merely a tactic in the struggle for social justice but is a way of life which should exert its influence on everything we do.” (Burnley, 74)

The next type of peace is peace education as conflict mediation and resolution. This type emphasizes the analysis of conflict, personal to global. This is a non-violent approach, but when using this type of peace education, one needs to be careful not to recreate the inequality with unequal balance of power that one is trying to overcome.

Peace can also be seen as peace education as personal peace. This is defined by the need for empathy, which is a process of education. This exemplifies the need to transform the hierarchical structures at all levels of society. Personal peace begins with the self, and from there can emit to all those surrounding.

Peace education has also been referred to as teaching the world order approach. This recognizes that structural violence is an obstacle to peace. If we want to achieve peace in the world we need to adopt a global perspective. The institute for World Order (IWO) founded in 1966 encouraged four values as the manifestation of positive peace. These values are the minimization of violence, the maximization of economic welfare for all on the planet, respect for human rights, and environmental balance. The IWO brought the first four editions of the Curriculum Guide to peace education as well as assisted colleges in establishing full peace studies programs, through support and funding.

Peace education is also the abolition of power relationships on a local, national, and global scale. This approach aims to raise awareness of structural violence and makes a strong effort to help people identify with the struggles of all oppressed people. This approach really takes the saying, “No one is free when others are oppressed” to heart. And it is through the notion that we are all connected that people begin to be uncomfortable in their lives, and are morally forced to learn and struggle for peace for all people.

With all of these different definitions of peace, peace education has hit a few bumps in the road to implementation. After the big push for peace studies programs in the 1980s in universities and colleges, the idea has slowed down. Those programs are still in existence, but there are rarely peace classes in the high school, junior high, elementary school, and kindergarten. The fact is, “peace is [an] alternative way of being, behaving, and organizing, [which] can be learnt.” (Hicks, 8) I believe that if we are going to strive for peace education, it has to start bottom up. There are four main points of rationale that I believe are relevant to the implementation of peace education: it is congruent with the aims of education, the nature of childhood socialization, the need for political education in a democratic society, and complements education ideologies.

The aim of education is to help children understand the world, interdependence; develop enquiring minds, the ability to question, and the respect for diversity. Peace education focuses on how the world is connected and completely intertwined. Peace education challenges students to question authority, develop curiosity and self motivation to change the world. Peace education focuses on the similarities between peoples of all nations, and celebrates the differences.

The nature of child socialization is an important reality to understand because children come into the classroom already having learned violence, and the idea of negative peace from the media. These children understand war, but have a very difficult time defining peace. It is the job of the school to intervene while these and other prejudices are forming. In his talk, “Artists in a Time of War,” Howard Zinn speaks of a woman who raised her child without the influence of the media. She taught non-violence and peace in her home, and to her child. She received a call from her sons’ teacher saying that she needed to teach her son how to fight because the other boys were beating him up, and picking on him because he didn’t fight back. The mother was appalled and told the teacher, “No, it is your job to teach the others how to wage peace.” This story strikes me as particularly relevant because this allows us to imagine a classroom where everyone was taught peace instead of violence. These problems of beating up and competition wouldn’t exist.

In peace education there is a need for political education especially because we live in a democratic society. If children are encouraged to become civically engaged at a young age, there would be a higher voter turn out rate, and the children would feel a sense of empowerment, that they can truly do something to better our nation. Speaking from personal experience, I did not learn anything about politics until this year, my sophomore year in college. I had a lot of catching up to do when I leapt into the peace and justice world at St. Olaf. If children are taught from the very beginning about the structure and the realities of politics, they will become active and make our nation a true democracy. These children will be educated about rights, justice, power, freedom, participation, and human welfare.

There are several different educational ideologies. There is liberal humanitarianism, utilitarianism, the child-centered approach, and the reconstructionist approach. Liberal humanitarianism is passing down basic cultural heritage through education. Utilitarianism is equipping students well for defined situations but it doesn’t really provide critical thinking that will aid in undefined situations. These two ideologies are not used in peace education. Peace education uses the child-centered and reconstructionist approaches. The child centered approach values self-development, self-reliance, and social harmony. The reconstructionist approach gives children the potential instruments of changing society. Both of these ideologies are empowering to children.

Peace education teaches many skills, attitudes, and knowledge. It inspires critical thinking, cooperation, empathy, assertiveness, and conflict resolution. Students embody the attitudes of self-respect, respect for others, ecological concern, open-mindedness, vision, and commitment to justice. Peace education also gives students the knowledge of issues of conflict, peace, war, nuclear issues, justice, power, gender, race, ecology, and futures. (Hicks, 13)

Among all of the wonderful innovations of peace education, there is criticism. Some people are afraid of “the contentious and politically charged discussion of peace, war, and disarmament.” (Hick, 40) My first argument against this fear is a question. How are children supposed to learn about peace if it is not allowed in the classroom and is not being taught in the world? “It is nearly impossible to educate a child to make peace on the block while making war in the world.” (Herndon, 117) The struggle for peace is hard enough, and children will have a hard time learning it when they don’t see it in the world or in the schools. If the critics are afraid of the charged discussion, what do they think about discussing race in the classroom?

The critics also state that children don’t have enough history to back up the ideas and beliefs they are being taught about peace, war, and disarmament. It is true that they have not been taught all of the history that these studies are based on, but they have been taught the ways of the world, so they already know about violence, war, and hatred. Plus, they will learn the history later. What they need to learn growing up are the ideas of non-violence, economic welfare, social justice, ecological balance, and participation. Children are born with the idea of justice. One of the most frequently said phrases by children are, “That’s not fair.” Peace education expands the students’ ideas of fairness to the whole world.

The next criticism is that peace is taught with a bias. I find this criticism extremely interesting because history is also taught with a bias, but I don’t hear these critics denouncing the teaching of history. Peace is a-political. Everybody wants peace; it is just the means of achieving it that separate people. I believe that every course is taught with a particular bias because the teacher comes into the classroom with their own opinions and ideas. At the same time, the students come into the classroom with their own experiences, histories, and ideas, which is affect how the class runs, and possibly the material that is covered.

There is a fear that if taught peace, children will begin to feel guilty for all of the suffering in the world. I believe there is some truth in this fear. It is a cause for caution. One reason children are so beautiful is that they have not gained a tolerance to violence and suffering. Children still cry when they see people suffering, and they want to make it better. When taught in the correct way, peace education can be very empowering and deter any student from becoming overwhelmed or guilty. The information needs to be presented in a way that states the problem, and allows the students to come up with a creative solution. When students are informed that they can change the world for the better and struggle for justice, they will not be discouraged.

The last criticism is that nobody will learn useful information to help solve real problems. This criticism is based off the misinformation that peace is soft, silly, and not useful. Some people believe that peace should not be taught because it is soft and has no solid base, such as science or math. These people fail to take into consideration the ideologies that accompany peace education, such as non-violence and conflict resolution which require much more complex thought processes. Peace education is an exacting, challenging, and rewarding task.

Along with the criticisms of peace education, there are assumptions that teachers need to be aware of. Some teachers believe that students can’t be trusted to learn on their own. It is the job of the teacher to instill knowledge onto the students. This is very contrary to the social and cognitive constructionist approaches of psychology, which see the teacher as a guide that gives support to the students on their paths of discovery. The assumption that the ability to pass a test is the best way to select and determine students’ potential is also extremely dangerous. This method of determining students’ potential rules out all of the children who do not prove their knowledge through tests, and thus we may lose many Van Gogh’s and Beethoven’s because testing is not comprehensive. This goes along with the assumption that the academic procedure and scientific method are more important that investigation.

Knowledge is not an accumulation of facts and information; it is the process and the journey that gives the most knowledge. One has to be able to think creatively and outside the box if one is going to think about peace. Knowledge is amazing because teachers can’t really teach it. It has to come from the students processing information, applying it to their lives, and the way they internalize it. That is why the assumption that students only learn what the teacher teaches is ridiculous. Students notice everything. The first thing children asked me when I did my clinical at Longfellow Elementary was, “What’s that in your mouth?” I never dreamed that the children would notice my tongue ring immediately and remember that about me. The same applies to teachers in all of their actions, whether it is in the way they talk to the children or when disciplining students. If a teacher punishes a child for talking, that child will learn that he/she is supposed to be silent. The teacher did not mean to encourage passivity, but in fact, that is what the students learn.

All of the assumptions stated above are not based on peace education. “[Peace education] is built on principles of shared decision-making, non-hierarchical or flat structure, rotation of jobs, group work and group exams, and helping and caring for each other.” (Brock-Utne, 70) “Education for peace is an education for cooperation, for caring and sharing, for the use of nonviolence in conflict solving. An education that fosters competition, conquest, aggression, and violence is an education for war.” (Brock-Utne, 72)

The peace education movement uses concepts from all four theoretical frameworks for analyzing social movements. Peace education uses resource mobilization with the establishment of PRIO and SIPRI along with other institutes dedicated to peace research. The funds needed to install peace studies programs came from these institutions along with other private donations. Because peace is an issue that affects everyone and began being implemented on college and university campuses, there was a social network set up between institutions of higher learning. Curriculum was created and shared among these institutions. The peace education movement also uses some of the ideas from the social constructionist theory. The peace educators believe that the struggle for peace needs to begin in the classroom and it is a struggle that unites all people.

Organizations such as Educators for Social Responsibility began to form, which gave people something to belong to. They all believed in “social and emotional learning, character education, conflict resolution, diversity education, civic engagement, prevention programming, youth development, and secondary school improvement.” (www.esrnational.org/aboutesr.htm, 2003) The peace education movement also used New Social Movement Theory. It believes that there are many social conflicts that occur, in different contexts of living, such as, cultural, social, political and economic. When defining areas of conflict, there is a formation of identities of people that work against these conflicts. The political process theory comes into play in the very beginning of the peace education movement. There needed to be a political opportunity for this to surface, and the threat of a nuclear war certainly gave the people something to rally around it a time that was relatively unstable.

Peace education has been evolving over the past three decades and still has a long way to go. Currently, it is really only in institutions of higher learning that teach conflict resolution, peace studies, and non-violence training. I believe peace education needs to begin in the home and follow a child through kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, high school, college, and grad school. If we implement peace education into schools worldwide, we will raise a generation of children that will be prepared to creatively solve the problems that the current general is causing, plus problems that have been around for centuries. Peace education needs to be something that we not only teach in schools but embody in every aspect of our lives. I believe this is how the revolution will begin. It will begin with the children.

“It seems so self-evident as to be almost a childish statement to assert that only two things are needed in order to establish peace in the world: above all, a new type of man, a better humanity; then an environment that should no longer set a limit to the infinite desire of man.” (Montessori, 26)Peace education encompasses the key concepts of education and peace. While it is possible to define education as a process of systematic institutionalized transmission of knowledge and skills, as well as of basic values and norms that are accepted in a certain society, the concept of peace is less clearly defined. Many writers make an important distinction between positive and negative peace. Negative peace is defined as the absence of large-scale physical violence–the absence of the condition of war.

Positive peace involves the development of a society in which, except for the absence of direct violence, there is no structural violence or social injustice. Accordingly, peace education could be defined as an interdisciplinary area of education whose goal is institutionalized and noninstitutionalized teaching about peace and for peace. Peace education aims to help students acquire skills for nonviolent conflict resolution and to reinforce these skills for active and responsible action in the society for the promotion of the values of peace. Therefore, unlike the concept of conflict resolution, which can be considered to be retroactive–trying to solve a conflict after it has already occurred–peace education has a more proactive approach. Its aim is to prevent a conflict in advance or rather to educate individuals and a society for a peaceful existence on the basis of nonviolence, tolerance, equality, respect for differences, and social justice. The Development of Peace Education and Its Basic Principles

The understanding of the concept of peace has changed throughout history, and so has its role and importance in the educational system from the very beginnings of the institutionalized socialization of children. When discussing the evolution of peace education, however, there have been a few important points in history that defined its aims and actions. The end of World War I (1914–1918) brought powerful support for the need for international cooperation and understanding and helped instill a desire to include these ideas in educational systems. The League of Nations and a number of nongovernmental organizations worked together on these ideas, especially through the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation, an organization that was the predecessor of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World War II (1939–1945) ended with millions of victims and the frightening use of atomic weapons against Japan, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In 1946 UNESCO was founded as an umbrella institution of the United Nations, and it was charged with planning, developing, and implementing general changes in education according to the international politics of peace and security. The statute of this organization reinforced the principle of the role of education in the development of peace, and a framework was created for including and applying the principles of peace in the general world education systems. The cold war division of the world after World War II and the strategy of the balance of fear between the so-called West and East blocs redirected the peace efforts. The peace movement began concentrating on stopping the threat of nuclear war, halting the arms race, and encouraging disarmament. Somewhat parallel to this, the issues of environmental protection and development found their place in peace education programs. The contemporary sociopolitical environment (particularly the events in eastern Europe since the early 1990s, the fear of terrorism, and the increasing gap between developed and undeveloped countries) has created new challenges for the understanding of peace and for the development of the underlying principles of responsibility and security.

A 1996 book by Robin Burns and Robert Aspeslagh showed that the field and the themes that are included in peace education are diverse. The diversity is evident in theoretical approaches, underlying philosophies, basic methodology, and goals. Within the field of peace education, therefore, one can find a variety of issues, ranging from violence in schools to international security and cooperation, from the conflict between the developed world and the undeveloped world to peace as the ideal for the future, from the question of human rights to the teaching of sustainable development and environmental protection.

A critic could say that the field is too wide and that peace education is full of people with good intentions but without a unique theoretical framework, firm methodology, and an evaluation of the outcomes of the practical efforts and programs of peace education. Some within the field would generally agree with this criticism. Nevertheless, the importance of accepting the specific situations in which programs for peace are being implemented and held should be emphasized. Owing to these specifics, difficulties emerge when one tries to define the unique approach, methodology, and evaluation of the efficiency of applied programs. The complex systems of society, the circumstances, and the context make the peace education field very active and diverse. Peace Education Discrepancies: Individual, Group Conflict

In the active process of achieving positive peace, peace education is faced with a few basic discrepancies: discrepancy between the individual and the group, discrepancy between groups within one society or from different societies, and the discrepancy of conflict as an imbalance of different interests that need to be resolved without violence. Discrepancies between individual and group. The modern liberal theory puts the individual’s equality, values, and rights in the center of a successfully functioning society. This basic thesis is the beginning of the philosophy and practical protection of human rights. From the individual psychological point of view one thinks in terms of educating a complete person. In the educational system this does not mean transmitting only the facts, but it includes the complete social, emotional, and moral development of an individual; the development of a positive self-concept and positive self-esteem; and the acquisition of knowledge and skills to accept responsibility for one’s own benefit as well as for the benefit of society.

The development of a positive self-concept is the foundation for the development of sympathy for others and building trust, as well as the foundation for developing awareness of interconnectedness with others. In that sense a social individual is a starting point and a final target of peace education efforts. Discrepancies between groups. People are by nature social beings, fulfilling their needs within society. Many social psychologists believe that there is a basic tendency in people to evaluate groups they belong to as more valuable than groups they do not belong to. This ingroup bias is the foundation of stereotypes, negative feelings toward outgroups, prejudices, and, finally, discrimination. In the psychological sense, the feeling of an individual that his or her group is discriminated against, or that he or she as an individual is discriminated against just for belonging to a particular group, leads to a sense of deep injustice and a desire to rectify the situation. Injustice and discrimination do not shape only the psychological world of an individual but also shape the collective world of the group that is discriminated against–shaping the group memory that is transmitted from generation to generation and that greatly influences the collective identity.

Belonging to a minority group that is discriminated against could have a series of negative consequences on the psychological and social functioning of its members, for example, leading to lower academic achievement or negatively influencing the self-concept and self-esteem. Therefore, peace education is dealing with key elements of individual and group identity formed by historical and cultural heritage, balancing the values of both of these, and trying to teach people how to enjoy their own rights without endangering the rights of others, and especially how to advocate for the rights of others when such rights are threatened. This motivating element of defense and advocating for the rights of others is the foundation of shared responsibility for the process of building peace. Conflict and its role in peace education. Conflict is a part of life, and its nature is neither good nor bad.

On the interpersonal and intergroup level, conflict describes an imbalance or an existence of difference between the needs and interests of two sides. It becomes negative only when the answer to a conflict is aggression. It is possible, however, to resolve the difference positively, by recognizing the problem and recognizing one’s own needs and interests and also acknowledging the needs of the opposing sides. In this way, constructive nonviolent conflict resolutions are possible. An important aspect of conflict is that it includes potential for change, and it is in this context that peace education addresses the issues of conflict and conflict resolution by teaching students how to take creative approaches to the conflict and how to find different possibilities for the conflict resolution. Thus students gain knowledge and skills that encourage personal growth and development, contribute to self-esteem and respect of others, and develop competence for a nonviolent approach to future conflict situations. Peace Education in Schools

From the very beginnings of the development of systematic peace education, there has been discussion about whether it should be added as a separate program in the schools, or if the principles of peace education should be applied through the regular school subjects. The variety of approaches and attitudes on what peace education actually is leads to the introduction of a series of titles, such as multicultural training, education for democracy and human rights, and education for development. Many in the field, however, believe that the implementation of principles of peace education into the institutionalized educational system is a better approach, especially within the subjects encompassing the cultural heritage of the dominant society and the ethnic groups belonging to it. Consistent with this view, Aspeslagh in 1996 wrote about the need to internationalize national curriculum.

For example, including within the curriculum the contributions of minority groups to literature, history, art, the general cultural heritage, and the development of the particular nation-state may significantly contribute to intercultural closeness and understanding. The Principles and Theoretical Foundations of Peace Education Programs Since the psychologist Gordon Allport formulated his well-known contact hypothesis in 1954, this theoretical framework became the most applicable principle for programs whose main goal is to change the relationships between groups in conflict.

According to Allport’s theory, for the intergroup contact to be successful and accomplish positive changes in attitudes and behavior, it must fulfill four basic conditions: the contact groups must be of equal status, the contact must be personal and manifold, the groups must depend on each other working for a superordinate goal, and there must be institutional support for the equality norm. The numerous re-search projects that tried to verify the predictions of the contact hypothesis provided contradictory results, raising serious doubts about the major cognitive, affective, and behavioral shifts that occur as a result of organized meetings between representatives of conflicting groups. Almost every new study added new conditions that must be fulfilled in order for the contact to be successful.

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