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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