This Peacebuilding Toolkit for Educators is designed to support the work of educators as peacebuilders. The focus of this toolkit is on peacebuilding because they know that peacebuilding must be developed, fostered, and supported.
The goal is to help in the development of young people as peacebuilders and to raise the visibility of positive examples of nonviolent conflict management. The purpose of this toolkit is not to tell students what to think; rather, they want to encourage students to think critically about the world around them and their place in it. It is the belief that the skills of peacebuilding presented in this toolkit are applicable at multiple levels. The tools that peer mediators use in middle school and high school conflict resolution programs are in many ways similar to some of the tools used by diplomats and heads of state in international peace negotiations. While international conflicts are often far more complex, the core skills of active listening, relationship building, and working cooperatively to find mutually agreeable solutions among parties apply at all levels.
This toolkit is organized around a few basic ideas within the field of international conflict management.
- Conflict is an inherent part of the human condition.
- Conflict is natural, and as such, it cannot be eliminated from society. Conflict is a normal part of everyday life and it is part of living in a thriving, pluralistic democracy. What makes a democratic society successful is its ability to deal with conflict, to allow and manage disagreement and dissent among people.
- Violent conflict can be prevented.
- Conflict becomes problematic when it escalates to violence. But violent conflict can be prevented. They can teach students to assert their opinion while being respectful and open to the ideas of others; to listen with care and attentiveness; and to act responsibly when faced with conflict. Conflict need not cross the line to violence. Whether on a personal or an international level, peace is possible when parties in conflict with one another use peacebuilding tools to manage their disagreement.
- There are many ways to be a peacebuilder.
- Peacebuilding is based on knowledge, skills, and attitudes that can be learned. As such, everyone can be a peacebuilder. But it is a conscious choice that involves making decisions and taking actions that require effort.
The toolkit is designed for a general audience of students in grades 9–12 (ages 14–18). The content can be modified for older students and some of the content can be modified for younger students. High school students are at an ideal stage to talk about peace and conflict, to view the world as an evolving system of relationships, and to prepare themselves to make a positive impact through their choices and actions today and in the future. The lessons have been developed with great detail to be useful for educators who are new to the methods employed that engage students in experiential learning and critical thinking.