Conexus Conflict Consultancy


Chapter 7 - Education for Peace-making

In Chapter 7 of the book, we move from a focus on keeping the peace towards making peace. The three dimensions of school life that we explore here are restorative approaches, peer mediation and peace-making circles.

"Where peace-keeping refers to the ways in which peace is created around the person and around the school in the form of systems of security and discipline, peace-making refers to making peace between people in the aftermath of incidents of conflict. This is of course not limited to schools in settings affected by armed conflict. While peace education is increasingly associated with societies “recovering from high-level conflicts such as war” (Ashton, 2007: 40), it is worth reasserting at this point the need for peace education in apparently stable, democratic states such as the UK. Young people everywhere need to learn how to respond non-violently to conflict and how to work towards the reduction of destructive conflict and violence. The fundamental fact that the purpose of school is to educate is the main philosophical reason why peace-making is central for addressing conflict and violence in schools. Peace-making is an essentially educative approach to conflict resolution. The role of school staff and of schools is not the same as that of police officers or other professionals in the legal or criminal justice sector. The role of schools is to teach, and peace-making provides the ideal mechanisms for teaching young people many lessons from those moments when they get it wrong."

Simon GouldComment
Chapter 6 - Education for Peace-keeping
Postive Peace in Schools.jpg

Part 3 of the book - Positive Peace in Schools - moves more directly into the three pillars of Peace-keeping, Peace-making and Peace-building and explores how these focuses can be useful when thinking about how schools can engage in peace work.

In the first chapter of Part 3, we present the concept of Peace-keeping and explain how it might be useful to understand the ways in which schools keep people safe from harm:

"Peace-keeping is the first level of peace work. It covers those aspects of school life that can be considered fundamental in keeping all members of the school community safe to teach and to learn. Technically, just as in international relations, peace-keeping involves the removal of direct violence. It does not address structural or cultural violence; it keeps warring parties apart. In a school, this often translates into separating or removing students who have become physically violent; as well as ensuring that direct violence does not occur in the first place through physical prevention, rules and punishmen."

We then later in the chapter go on to present an addition to the traditional thinking around 'behaviour management' and 'behaviour for learning', supplementing these terms with 'behaviour development' and 'behaviour for living':

"All schools are required to have a behaviour management policy. This is to ensure both consistency and transparency. Developing a behaviour management strategy, however, can be more than a statutory obligation, or a paper exercise. It can be grounded in values and dialogue, and it can provide a framework for staff and student development. We here offer a way of thinking about how schools exercise authority that fits with the notion of positive peace. It moves from away from management and towards development. The table below presents this useful distinction. The premise is that behaviour management is a necessary, but not sufficient, focus for schools; beyond behaviour management, schools would do well to pay attention to the behaviour development of their pupils.

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The common phrase ‘behaviour for learning’ is here supplemented with the phrase, ‘behaviour for living’. Our contention is that engaging pupils in processes of reflection, dialogue and problem-solving about their behaviour supports them in understanding how it affects others, and making appropriate changes. This helps to develop an internal moral compass, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will become more self-regulating. We do not advocate, here or anywhere, adults abdicating responsibility for protecting the human right of every child to learn and grow in safety. We do suggest, however, that this can be done in ways that encourage development, rather than in ways that merely manage and control." 

Simon GouldComment
iPEACE Education


Chapter 5 of the book is where we present the iPEACE model. My co-author, Hilary Cremin developed the iPEACE model and sets out its meaning and function in this chapter. Within the responsive iPEACE model, the P stands for "pick the right strategy". As Dr. Cremin goes on the explain...

"Conflict resolution literature identifies the following forms of peace-keeping and peace-making. The list below has been adapted to reflect the language and practices of schools:

·       Legal and formal procedures (exclusion, warnings, dismissal)

·       Punishment

·       Restorative approach

·       Mediation

·       Problem-solving circles

·       Negotiation

·       Avoidance

These strategies range from being oriented around security and procedural justice to what Lederach would call ‘elicitive’ and Rogers would call ‘person-centred’ approaches. Avoidance is the clear exception here. It is included because it is sometimes a positive act of diplomacy and wisdom.

The role of the person attempting to resolve the conflict will be different with each strategy. The best strategy in each situation depends on several factors, including the consequences of acting / not acting. These factors can be legal or practical, or they can be about prioritising teaching and learning or student wellbeing. It is important to reflect on whether there is someone who is clearly in the wrong, according to legal, social or cultural norms, and what someone in a position of authority might be expected to do about it."

Simon GouldComment
Peace in Schools
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Having explored the question of violence in schools in Part One of the book, we move on to explore the question of peace in schools in Part Two.

Chapter Four explores Peace Education, giving an overview of the history of Peace Education and providing a typology and discussion of how "a changing landscape of peace and violence globally has impacted on Peace Education".

Paulo Freire is a strong influence in the history of Peace Education and an inspiration in our thinking about what this work is all about:

"Peace for Freire is of a particular kind. It is not passive or lacking in conflict; it is grounded in struggle and in solidarity with oppressed groups. Commitment to peace comes from a spiritual, humanistic and ethical stance, and education is "an act of love, and thus an act of courage" (1973: 38).

Simon GouldComment
School Improvement as Violence

Quite a few eyebrows have raised at the title of Chapter 3 of the book - Positive Peace in Schools. It was intriguing and enlightening to research and write about the tyrannical orthodoxy of school improvement and tease out the many ways in which this notion has come to be a force for violence on schools. 

I include here an excerpt from this chapter:

"The impression is created that school improvement relates primarily to raising standards of educational performance, and that this is quantifiable, measurable and comparable in the same way that other products and outputs of markets are. David Reynolds, for example, celebrates the new "'technological' orientation" of education, which "is simply concerned to deliver 'more' education to more children": and thus "eschews the values debate about goals" (1997: 99). The Dutch education philosopher Gert Biesta gives short shrift to such a position: "The means we use in education are not neutral with regard to the ends we wish to achieve. It is not the case that in education we can simply use any means as long as they are 'effective'. . . education is at heart a moral practice more than a technological enterprise" (2007: 10).

We would agree, arguing that a position that attempts to mask ideology thorough the 'common sense' of the market place or through manipulation of performance markers and test scores is a position of structural and cultural violence. The positioning of school improvement as a technological exercise directed towards increasing productivity and efficiency has real and harmful effects on students and teachers."


Simon GouldComment
Positive Peace in Schools - Chapter One
Positive Peace in Schools

An excerpt from chapter one of the book, where we start to explore and challenge the question of violence in schools...

"The idea that out-of-control youth need to be educated by trained soldiers is misinformed, and further promotes the militarisation of schooling. It is as if teachers who have lost authority need to borrow the authority of the soldier in order to be able to control unruly teenagers. Little thought is given to the transferability (or desirability) of the authority of the armed forces in civilian settings...Despite the undisputed need for structure, routine and safety in schools, it is nevertheless the case that the process of gaining an education does not automatically require authoritarian discipline, or fear. Schools that are overly militarised rely on extrinsic, rather than intrinsic, motivation. As we will show later in the book, this impedes self-discipline - the putative goal of any education system. For now, it is sufficient to ask whether this is really how education in the twenty-first century should be conducted. And, if so, whose interests are served by the discourse of out-of-control youngsters whose regular acts of violence in schools need to be curtailed by trained soldiers?"

Simon GouldComment
Positive Peace in Schools - what it's all about...
Positive Peace in Schools

I thought it would be useful - and hopefully interesting - to share some excerpts from the book that Dr Hilary and Cremin and I have written: Positive Peace in Schools, which was published last month. 

Here, I take an excerpt from the Introduction, in which we set out our aims in writing the book:

"The aim of this book is to work with Galtung and the perennial and elusive concept of peace in order to render peace practicable without compromising or commodifying its essence. We do not underestimate the difficulties of working towards positive peace in schools, but neither do we give up hope. We argue fundamentally that more attention needs to be given to peace-building, that this is a process; an attitude, a leaning-towards, a never giving-up. It is not an end state. The builder of peace does not have to be perfect, neither does peace reside in utopia; but peace-building does fundamentally involve a life-long process of working, as much as possible, for positive peace. This may sometimes be more about transformative moments than transformed institutions."

Simon GouldComment
First World Forum on Urban Violence and Education for Coexistence and Peace

I am in Madrid right now attending the first World Forum on Urban Violence and Education for Coexistence and Peace.

I have attended lectures, panel discussion and workshops with hundreds of stimulating and engaging peace-builders from around the world. I have already learnt so much that challenges and extends my own thinking and working. I feel like I have done two year's worth of CPD in two days! 

Today I had the extraordinary honour of meeting and chatting to the godfather of peace studies, Professor Johan Galtung. He wears his 86 years of deep wisdom very lightly - a most humbling and edifying moment for me. He seemed genuinely pleased that the book that Hilary Cremin and I have written - Positive Peace in Schools - was inspired by his thinking and writing. A touching and memorable encounter.

One interesting learning point for me over the past two days has been the differences in perspective on peace practice that I have noticed between Spanish and UK colleagues. To put it bluntly, the Spanish educators get straight in there discussing 'sensitive' topics such as teenage sexual identity (boys talk openly about masturbation, why don't girls?) where UK colleagues tread much more cautiously. It has made me wonder about how much the Spanish way is more pragmatic and gets the job done, but also how much the UK way is more considered and safeguarded.

I will continue to ponder this and many other thoughts in the days and weeks ahead. Meanwhile, I am delivering a one-hour workshop on restorative justice in schools tomorrow. Given the quality of the workshops I have attended I am going to have to be on top of my game. I hope to do justice to my field and to make some more fruitful connections on the final day tomorrow.

Simon GouldComment
My First Book is Published

I am in the midst of many feelings about the appearance of my first book. Feelings of pride – hopefully authentic rather than hubristic – are playing against feelings of anticipation for how it will be received.

The book, Positive Peace in Schools: Tackling Conflict and Creating a Culture of Peace in the Classroom, co-authored with PhD supervisor, Dr. Hilary Cremin, has just been published by Routledge.


The inspiration for the book evolved from our shared interests in restorative approaches to behaviour, conflict and relationships in schools. About 18 months ago, we were both seeking to situate restorative approaches within the broader field of Peace Education, and we had each formulated our own models for how this might look. Our many months of collaboration - helpfully shaped and fashioned with our colleagues in the Cambridge Peace and Education Research Group -  resulted in this book.

The essence of the book is to translate concepts and theories from the field of peace and conflict studies to the context of education and in particular, schools. The title Positive Peace comes from Johan Galtung’s concepts of negative and positive peace, the former being the absence of direct violence and the latter being the absence of violence in all its forms - direct, structural and cultural - plus the presence of harmony and social justice.

Our hope is that professionals working in and with schools will find the book both provocative and inspiring. As one of our reviewers has commented, the early chapters make for uncomfortable reading. For how can we possibly frame schooling as violence? Less contentious may be our framing of school improvement as violence…

In the book we navigate the tension between peace as philosophy and peace as practice. It was hard work retaining the ephemeral, perennial essence of peace whilst at the same time making peace practicable.

The book presents ways in which schools can - in a very practical way - build a culture of positive peace. For example, schools can focus on the development of appropriate pupil behaviour as well as on its management; schools can engage pupils in critical citizenship rather than soft citizenship.

We absolutely welcome and invite readers’ feedback on what we have presented. We hope that this book will serve as the catalyst for dialogue amongst the different players in the education community about the place of peace in schools in the 21st Century.

Simon GouldComment