Peace education: the experience of Finland and the United States of America

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
Peace education, proposes a wide range of approaches, as well as aims, which differ on a country-to-country basis, according to the audience and socio-political and ideological context. However, peace education overlaps and shares theoretical and practical grounds with other types of “progressive educations”. These encompass the following: civics education, development education, environmental education, human rights education, and multi-cultural education. Peace education shares a concern of contemporary problems with global education as the basis of its content and a belief in participatory and active learning strategies. Peace education has been identified as sharing common ground with citizenship and human rights education through beliefs in the interdependency of world‟s citizens, and through its faith in tolerance and respect for difference, and an appreciation of the rights of others as being important to establish and maintain peace. Within these shared frameworks, peace education is defined as education that promotes concepts of non-violence, human rights, social justice, world- mindedness, ecological balance, meaningful participation, while peace is defined as all those times when a nation is not actively at war, and peace education as everything supporting that condition. With the concept of peace education in mind, this research intends to review and analyze educational policies and curricula for general education based on the cases of American, and Finnish educational systems, in relation to their concerns for peace education to contribute to values education and the acquisition of peaceful, social and civic competences in schools. Integrating peace education principles in order to shape individual and community identities, to enhance relationships between people, to promote positive conflict transformation, development and, in general, contribute to peacebuilding. Curriculum helps to legitimize what is considered to be important to learn within a society and therefore determines what is included to be understood as relevant knowledge and practices. The documentary analysis of American, Finnish educational documents in relation to teaching and learning of peace education components gives responses on the extent peace education principles are expected to contribute to building peaceful and sustainable societies, and faces some current challenges of the role of peace education in schools. The reasons the Finnish and American education systems have been chosen as case studies within the context of peace education is primarily because of their important stance in the world education rankings. Even though American and Finnish education systems are very much different from one another, both have become a subject of interest when discussing successful education models. Since the United States education system varies on a state-by-state basis, this research plans to assess the schools system in one of the states - the State of Massachusetts, which was selected for the purpose of this research according to the top rankings it has maintained in the US national K-12 education rankings.
Education, peace education, education policy, Finland, USA