Transformations into Peace and Survival: Programs for the 1970s

© The Author(s) 2015
Betty A. Reardon and Dale T. SnauwaertBetty A. Reardon: A Pioneer in Education for Peace and Human RightsSpringerBriefs on Pioneers in Science and Practice2610.1007/978-3-319-08967-6_5

5. Transformations into Peace and Survival: Programs for the 1970s

Retrospective Reflection on “Transformations for Peace and Survival: Programs for the 70s” (1973)

Betty A. Reardon 

International Institute on Peace Education, New York, NY, USA



Betty A. Reardon

I read this piece as a summary of what I had learned in the first 10 years of full professional commitment to a field I had not yet come to think of as peace education; and a forecast of many of the normative principles and pedagogical inclinations that would inform most of my future work. It was a decade in which I was actively involved in curriculum development and theoretical collaboration with the some of the most influential American social educators of the day, many of whom are referenced here. Yet to come were the years of close working relationships with peace educators from various other countries whose exchanges and cooperative endeavors produced the international peace education movement of the last quarter of the 20th century. While the piece reflects American efforts to conceptualize a more global approach, it is deeply imbued with the critiques of American education that sprung from the observations of American educators, particularly those of the survival education (closely akin to peace education) movement represented in the volume in which ‘Transformations…’ was published. The emerging internationalization of the field is evident here with references to the ideas of the Mexican based education critic, Ivan Illich and the Brazilian philosopher and pedagogue, Paulo Freire. I learned of Freire in these same years when a friend, knowing of how I was starting to view the politics of pedagogy, passed on a piece from the Harvard Education Review. Freirean critiques became more widely known with the publication of The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a foundational work on the field of critical pedagogy that came to have a significant effect on peace education. Their critiques found education, especially public schoolingeven in democratic societiesto be a reflection of an unequal class system and the hierarchical social structures that sought to educate for selfreplication, avoiding if not repressing challenge by emphasis on content mastery over critical thinking, an issue that still remains unresolved.

As I undertook more international work through the newly formed Peace Education Commission of the International Peace Research Association (1972) and the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction that held its first world conference in England in 1974, I found similar critiques being expressed by European educators who likened the structures and processes of state sponsored education to those that mediated the neocolonial structures of the world economy. It was these critiques which produced the strong emphasis on social and economic justice as the essential foundation of peace that became a hallmark of the international peace education movement. In these waning years of the Vietnam War that many peace educators saw as a colonial war, war began to be interpreted as a means not only to pursue national interest and ‘security,’ but also to maintain the global power hierarchy. The curricular concepts contained in this volume on survival education were infused with critical analysis of that structure. Needless to say such curricula were not welcomed by most of mainstream education. Yet as reflected here, peace educators were hopeful of affecting change, while fully aware of the obstacles thereto. Most of the essays in the volume in which ‘Transformations…’ appeared were imbued with hope that recognition of structural injustice could make possible it’s remediation with education as significant agent in the process. That belief rings throughout this selection.

While the education establishment was far from accommodating to these ideas, we had some encouragement from the work of UNESCO that validated the field with the 1974 Recommendation on International Understanding, Cooperation and Peace; and Education concerning Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms that was approved by the agency’s General Conference. Little known in the United States, it was in the spirit of other UNESCO initiatives such as the Associated Schools Project that supported education for world citizenship. But neither did it, as an interstate agency, yet embrace education regarding issues of structural injustice.

So, too, in this piece I see some of the very obstacles to the full recognition of the nature and significance of those unjust structures that continued to remain invisible even to numbers of peace educators in spite of our enthusiasm for “speaking truth to power.” Clearly, there was much sorely needed learning yet to come on my part and in the evolution of the field. A genuine sense of chagrin is raised by reading some of the blatantly sexist language that was common, even among the progressives of the day. The use of male pronouns to refer to the abstract ‘genderless’ persons who were the subjects of concern in the essaystudents, among other oppressed, and among which I had developed at least that level of gender consciousness that lead me to include womenmakes me wince.

The terminology of ‘man’ and ‘mankind’ for which I would later use such words as ‘persons’ and ‘humanity’ were not, I must emphasize, used here without reflection. I recall a conversation with the wonderful, most human of social educators, Earl Johnson in which I queried him about the distinctions between the terms as applied in his work to speak of all humans as a group. His reply was that ‘man’ referred only to the species as such, but ‘mankind’ inferred the moral, reflective nature of the species, that which carried the human responsibility for the rest of what was soon to be called the “planetary system” or “the living Earth”. These were instructive and clarifying normative ideas thatwhile the language may have been sexistfed my hunger to develop means to integrate ethics into what I practiced still as “world order studies.” They gave a flesh and blood, living dimension to the otherwise abstract world order values that were so central to the pedagogies that the social educators with whom I was working were developing. This was the great decade of “values analysis” and “moral decision making” as the methods and goals of social education for democratic citizenship.

As my learning continued I became aware, not only of gender injustice, but also of the many destructive, unreflected assumptions people hold without questioning, crucial ethical issues and the severe conceptual obstacles to teaching and learning for the achievement of the very changes we worked for. I did not ‘unlearn’ these sexist concepts, but rather learned to better understand them and their significance, and came to perceive gender to be a main element in the peace problematic. It also cultivated two other ideas that inform my approach to education, what it comprises and how pedagogy and the teacherlearner relationship are the most crucial elements in the entire process. They are first and foremost, that most people are capable of learning, and that fixed ideas can change through learning to understand how we came to hold them, to reconsider how those ideas affect how we view the world and its problems, and to develop other ideas that may refute or complement the old onesnever ‘undo’ thempreserving the insights they give us that enable us, among other things, to understand and respect those who hold notions similar to our “old ideas.” These thoughts incubated the pedagogic concept of civil disputation, and the norm of honoring human dignity through the mediation of difficult differences.

Another point of interest in this essay is the reaching toward, but not yet grasping the essential holism that was required in the field. It would take nearly another decade before I comprehended what I came to see as comprehensive peace education and the integral interrelationship between sexism and the war system. So within this piece are glimmers of two of the most essential conceptual lenses through which I have sought to shed light on the problems and processes of peace learning.

Betty A. Reardon,

March 29, 2014

5.1 Introduction

From a vantage point early in the 1970s it seems a bit futile to forecast proposals for the decade.1 Programs for the 1970s should have as their long-range targets not this decade but the next century. Perhaps farsighted programs will help avoid the fruitless kinds of incremental and fragmented change that has characterized the past two decades of American education. Given the current trend projections, educational needs, and various other societal problems, it is evident that drastic changes in educational policy are required. Without such changes we cannot expect the school system itself to survive, much less make any significant contribution to the change of any other system or, indeed, to the survival of mankind. It is that survival crisis which programs for the 1970s must face as the key issue in goal formation and strategy planning. It is therefore imperative that survival education become the core of all programs.

The first requisite of survival is peace, a state of order in which tensions and conflicts can be resolved without destruction or lethal violence. (Note: peace need not be the absence of tension or conflict but only the nonviolent management of these phenomena.) Educational programs must therefore be concerned with defining and achieving such an order to assure survival in all realms of human experience—as part of a species, or mankind; as members of groups and subgroups, or societies; and as human beings, or individuals.

As we inquire into the definitions and strategies for achievement of the desired order, we must recognize not only the interrelationships among these realms of experience but also the uniqueness of each and the distinctions among them. We cannot, for example, expect world peace to provide “inner peace” for every human being (the ability to handle personal and internal conflicts) any more than we can expect to achieve world peace by gradually bringing “peace of soul” to each member of the human species. Nor can we expect a nonviolent or even a ‘just’ order among nations to resolve all the varied and complex tensions existing within and among other levels of human social organization. We should, however, recognize that some of these domestic and personal tensions do in fact result from the stresses imposed by the “war system” which characterizes present world politics and that any attempt to eliminate them must include efforts to replace that system with a “peace system,” a form of politics which reduces and attempts to eliminate organized violence.

Helping to bring such a system into existence should be a primary goal of educational programs in the 1970s. Anything less would be an inadequate response to the petitions of the young reflected in the data in Chap. 4, “Let’s Listen to Our Children and Youth.” Such a goal requires an education that inquires into three realms of human experience: into social and political structures and processes, with an eye toward understanding and managing institutions and deriving strategies for nonviolent change needed for species survival; into modes to express ideas, feelings, and interpretations of proposed changes, aiming at the kind of exchange among and within groups that will result in intelligent policy formation; and into individual moral growth, intellectual development, and ways of making both personal and political choices on the basis of sound value judgments.

A more comprehensive description of these goals was presented in the Asilomar “Statement of Objectives and Approaches for Improvement of the Social Studies.” For the purposes of this chapter, as you read the statement, reproduced below, simply substitute ‘education’ at each mention of “social studies”.

The purpose of the social studies is to educate students toward the development of a world m which all human beings may live in dignity. The goals of learning should be construction of a future world system in which all human persons enjoy material well-being, the benefits of education, access to information, freedom from oppression and violence, participation in making the decisions which affect their lives, and a respectful, nourishing, and fulfilling relationship with all forms of life and their environment.

Learning experiences should be designed to help students understand the processes and causes of change through the careful analysis of all available data. It is imperative that learning experiences equip the learner with the ability to participate effectively in the process of change. This approach should foster the development of a value system which accords human dignity to all persons and produces empathy with and compassion for other humans of diverse cultures, both in their own countries and in other parts of the world.

The social studies, through social and behavioral sciences and the humanities, should introduce several basic concepts to students of all nations and all cultures. These concepts include the notion that mankind is a single species with basic common needs and that the world is a global system incorporating many human cultures and subsystems. Human and cultural differences should be studied and appreciated as varieties of the total human experience.

Students should be able to recognize and define problems, to gather and apply data in order to understand problems, to conceptualize and plan solutions, to evaluate various plans according to a value system which encourages commitment to action. Students possessing such skills may use them to build a world system in which human life is valued above institutions, freedom as valued above political ideology, and justice is valued above order.

Learning experiences should provide the child with opportunities to select subjects and modes of study and encourage his personal participation in the learning process. Children must be helped to understand themselves and others and permitted to discuss and reflect upon the nature of self and of other selves, such reflections being vital to the child’s ability to build his own learning structures and to become a reflective evaluator of his own learning. Content should be based upon the realities of the life of the child, his community, and world society. Controversy, conflict, and serious problems must be as much a part of the child’s in-school learning as they are of his out-of-school learning.

Such education implies the need to overcome unnecessary barriers among the disciplines and to create and use knowledge in a way which will contribute to the realization of the desired future world system. The creation and use of such knowledge should encourage the development of the highest levels of cognition, which can produce the kind of affective learning experiences which lead to changes in behavior and to desired social change.2

5.2 Meeting the Crises: A Revolution in Education

The question for educators proceeding from the statement above is: What kinds of projects and programs can carry out its purposes? Fortunately there are many possibilities within the growing survival-curriculum movement and also in projects dealing with social issues and human development. Many of these projects have an admitted crisis orientation, an orientation which, far from being a hysterical approach, is a pragmatic one. The common orientation is crisis-centered rather than problem-centered because there is a general recognition that our present structures and processes for problem solution are inadequate to meet the current situation. In fact, what differentiates a ‘crisis’ from a ‘problem’ is the inability of the established institutions to deal with the former. A second common characteristic of this growing group of ‘survivalists’ is the search for unprecedented solutions and the concomitant assumption that such solutions will probably require new and radically different institutions, an idea described by Michael Scriven as “survival through revolution.”3

Scriven was, in fact, the first to put forth a suggestive outline for a survival curriculum which must be developed to replace the “war curriculum” described by Thornton B. Monez in Chap. 2 of this book. Other notable contributions on the relationship between education and survival, together with suggestions for curricular and pedagogical approaches, have been made by William H. Boyer, of the University of Hawaii4, and Fannie R. Shaftel, of Stanford University.5 Although these researchers carry out their work in the tradition of social reconstruction, their writings call for an activist commitment and, indeed, tend to be more revolutionary than reformist in that they document the need for immediate and drastic changes in educational organization and practice.

It is the thesis of this chapter that, while there is a general recognition of the need for educational change of revolutionary proportions, there has been no systematic general diagnosis from which we may project a comprehensive vision of change and design strategies for bringing the vision into reality. Criticism and problems are dealt with separately (if at all), and consequently little or no headway is made toward meeting the real needs of the schools. We must recognize that education is in a systems crisis and requires a drastic system change, a revolutionary approach to meet that crisis.

When we try to sum up all that has been said in the critiques and studies of the schools, the problem of reaching a diagnosis is not so difficult to resolve. Let me posit one possible general diagnosis as a basis for some of the programs to be recommended for the 1970s. The schools are a barometer of the society, revealing ‘the stresses it suffers, demonstrating the gap it exhibits between articulated and manifested values, and shaking with the trauma of recognizing the need for change but having no clear and comprehensive vision of what form that change should take. In short, the schools, like most other aspects of society, are oppressive in their atmosphere, product-oriented in their processes, past- and content-oriented in their teaching methods, and hierarchical and elitist in their organization.

For example, the tendency to classify and categorize young people not only in age groups but also in so-called ability groups, and thereby to separate some groups from other groups, undoubtedly contributes to the polarization which afflicts our society. (It is easy enough for the educators to decry the attacks of hard-hat hawkish laborers on the dove demonstrations of students, but they might well recognize that the world view and value system of that group of hard hats were profoundly influenced when they were separated into a ‘nonacademic’ course in secondary school or, even worse, were consigned at a young age to groups with reading or language difficulties, which we know now to be large part culturally determined.)

At best, the schools’ mode of organization and operation is inefficient, and at worst, it is inhumane. Ranging from Silberman, to Denisson, to Leonard, to Rossman, to Goodman, to Firestone, and the feminists, the charge is pretty well documented that delight, exuberance, excitement at the adventure of life, and joy in learning have no place in most American schools.

5.3 World-Order Studies as Survival Curriculums

A prescription that would follow from such a diagnosis would include a new school system which is anti-elitist, person-oriented, inquiry-centered, process-concerned, and future-directed and, God willing, would function in a happy environment in which students could prepare to work toward the survival of mankind on planet earth. In short, a set of conditions should prevail m the schools which peace researchers now refer to as “positive peace,” in which peace can be maintained—that is, “a state of assured justice.”6

Without such an environment no curriculum, even one based on survival criteria, will serve the purpose. Let us keep the goals implied in this prescription in mind as we seek out substantive bases for survival curriculums. Such goals, I believe, are implicit in programs now being devised to deal with the issues of environment, population, human rights, economic development and welfare, social justice, and war and peace. One particular area of study which combines elements of such issues and works toward a goal similar to that advocated in the foregoing prescription is “world order.” After more than 10 years of research and development, this topic offers techniques of problem definition, modes of inquiry, and value analysis, as well as particular teaching-learning strategies.

The central concern of the world-order inquiry is peace, a goal described by the discipline as the elimination of organized violence among nations. This central concern with violence has led researchers in the field to see the potential for organized violence arising out of those very problems which individually threaten the survival of man. Working separately in their own regions of the world, but coordinating their efforts through such programs as the World Order Models Project, they have come to see these problems as so closely interrelated that they would be more effectively resolved by integrated programs organized at a world-system level rather than being dealt with as distinct phenomena approached individually by national systems.

World order, therefore, is a comprehensive, integrated, multidisciplinary subject. Researchers have assumed the responsibility of suggesting modes to bring about changes in the world political system to attain the goals of world order. As a result, world order is not merely an academic inquiry into problems of war or peace and survival. It is also a policy science directed at finding viable solutions to those problems. This policy science orientation makes it a highly appropriate substantive base for educational programs designed to equip and motivate students to act for change.

The basic concern for world peace gives rise to the assumption that the most urgently required change—perhaps, in fact, a prerequisite to changes at other levels of human organization—is that which would radically transform the world political structure by replacing the war system with adequate world institutions to make nonviolent resolution of conflicts among nations both possible and probable. Thus supporters of world-order studies advocate that students inquire into the structures and processes of the world political system with a view toward transforming it into a true peace system. World order is, therefore, political education for world citizenship. It is a conscious attempt to politicize students responsibly with regard to world problems in much the same manner as Edmund W. Gordon advocated in regard to national problems of race and social justice and student power in the cogent and moving paper he delivered at Asilomar.7

Programs such as those advocated by Gordon and world order educators should have top priorities for the 1970s, not only because of their concern for peace but also because of the related goals espoused as essential to peace—social justice and economic welfare. Such programs would make operational Earl S. Johnson’s definition of the “politicization of social knowledge,” which is “the purposeful turning of thought and action, collectively and individually, toward the realities of our time—war, the rape of nature, racism, hunger.”8