Education for Peace
Quaker education for peace may take place in formal settings such as schools and colleges, (Quaker and non-Quaker), or in workshops and seminars. It may also happen informally through participation in peace-related initiatives.
Friends have sponsored and drawn upon peace research to inform and enhance education for peace.
Quaker schools across the world aspire to create a whole school ethos that embodies peace. The vision is that each child is valued and respected by everyone, in an atmosphere of mutual caring and trust. Children are active learners, participating in activities that make them think and reflect, and enable them to develop deep-rooted values that will stay with them throughout their lives. They hear inspiring stories about peace building past and present. Where conflict arises, they experience its peaceful resolution, and they see how changes can be made without recourse to violence. They participate in activities that serve the community rather than only themselves. Their teachers aim to be role models of living in this way, day in and day out. Many teachers and students in these schools are not Quakers, but the ethos is for everyone. No school is perfect, and all fall short, but the aspiration is very real, and also very public to all concerned.
Several Quaker organisations provide resources and teacher training to support education for peace. The Friends Council on Education in Philadelphia, founded in 1931, serves the 80 or so Friends schools in the US, and has affiliate Friends schools in other countries. It organises conferences, runs teacher-training courses, produces many educational materials, and facilitates mutual learning between the schools in their network. The 9 Quaker schools in Britain and Ireland also have a network, and share ideas at an annual conference. Kenyan Friends working in partnership with US Friends, under the auspices of Friends United Meeting, have developed a secondary school peace curriculum for all Friends schools in Kenya. Quaker schools in Rwanda work together to build peaceful communities and future citizens.
Interest in education for peace is of course not confined to Quaker schools – many other schools and educational organisations, whether faith based or not, seek to provide it. Many of the resources prepared for Quaker schools are accessible to others who wish to use them. However there are other Quaker organisations that set out from the start to reach all schools and young people. The American Friends Service Committee offers HIPP (Help Increase the Peace Program) a version of AVP for teenagers, through its South East New England office. This is part of a more extensive program for youth. Australian Friends also offer a version of HIPP. The Quaker Peace Centre in Capetown runs a nonviolent schools campaign. The Deep Humanity Institute in Canada offers peace-building workshops to schools and other communities. Transforming Conflict runs programmes on restorative practice in schools in the UK. LEAP Confronting Conflict uses drama with young people in London. Quaker Peace and Social Witness (British Friends’ Faith in Action body) has extensive peace education materials and is affiliated to the UK wide Peace Education Network.
In the wider community, AVP (initiated by Quakers) has become a peace education tool far beyond its original use in New York prisons. HROC (Healing and Rebuilding our Communities) created by Burundian and Rwandan Friends, is a form of community peace education. QPSW’s ‘Turning the Tide’ workshops have trained many groups in non-violent direct action. Two Quaker study centres (Woodbrooke in the UK, and Pendle Hill in the US) offer workshops and retreats for anyone wishing to learn more about peace and other facets of Quakerism. QUNO provides summer workshops for young people. Smaller Quaker centres in other countries offer such opportunities too.
Several universities in the US have Quaker origins, and in different ways retain something of the Quaker ethos. With the development of peace studies as an academic discipline in the 20th century several of them established peace studies teaching and research. In the UK the Quaker Peace Studies Trust funded the launch of Peace Studies at Bradford, and the first professor was Quaker Adam Curle.