Implementing and Assessing Transformative, Multidimensional Peace Language Activities Designed for Future Teachers and Their Students: Educating for Peace

Implementing and Assessing Transformative, Multidimensional Peace Language Activities Designed for Future Teachers and Their Students: Educating for Peace

Maria Matilde Olivero (National University of Río Cuarto, Argentina & University of South Florida, USA) and Rebecca L. Oxford (University of Maryland, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3001-5.ch010
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This chapter reports on a study exploring the value of preparing pre-service teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) to teach peace in their classrooms in an Argentine setting. The practicum approach drew on elements of the contemplative, holistic, and experiential learning modes to incorporate multidimensional peace language activities to raise awareness of peace and help pre-service teachers become peacebuilders. Four purposefully selected participants practiced peace language activities in the practicum and implemented similar activities in their EFL classrooms. Data were collected through various qualitative sources before, during, and after the practicum, and were subjected to thematic and content analysis. Results showed that the four participants felt the peace activities were transformational both for language students and for themselves. However, two participants were distinctly more adept than the other pair in weaving the peace activities into their teaching. The chapter offers explanations and draws significant educational implications.
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The first section of this chapter starts with the theoretical elements of the study: a definition of peace, differences between negative and positive peace, and an overview of the language of peace and its dimensions. The second part of the section is a brief status report on teacher education, which (like higher education) has generally tended to overemphasize cognition at the expense of other aspects of the human being. The last part expands the vision of teacher education by exploring overlapping teaching modes (e.g. contemplative, holistic, and experiential) that are relevant to teaching the language of peace.

Some Fundamentals of Peace for This Study

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001) defined peace simply as harmony attained by working productively with conflicting perspectives. He argued that peace involves overcoming “the disease of fear” by means of “love” rather than “hatred or bitterness” (King, 2001, p. 90). Peace should not be viewed primarily as negative peace, i.e., the absence or cessation of violence (Galtung, 1996). Peace is more fruitfully described as positive peace, involving the presence of positive relationships, intergroup harmony, supportive social systems, human rights, and constructive conflict resolution (Galtung, 1996; Groff, 2008; Oxford, 2013, 2014; Wenden & Schäffner, 1995).

One of the essential elements for such peace is positive communication, more explicitly known as the language of peace. The language of peace is “[a]ny form of communication - verbal or nonverbal - that describes, reflects, expresses, or actively expands peace” (Oxford, 2013, p.3). Use of the language of peace fosters harmony in multiple dimensions: (a) within the person (inner peace); (b) between individuals (interpersonal peace); (c) between or among groups, nations, and cultures (intergroup, international, and intercultural peace); and (d) between people and the environment (ecological peace) (Oxford, 2013; 2014; 2017). Because of the multiple dimensions of peace, this study refers to certain activities as “multidimensional language of peace activities” (MPLAs).

Some sages have emphasized that peace begins inside each person. For example, the Dalai Lama’s 2000 message to the United Nations was that “[i]nner peace is the true foundation of world peace” (quoted by Zalben, 2006, p. 30). Similarly, Miall (2000, p. 6) highlighted Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching (Book of Changes), which designates peace in the heart as the basis for global peace. By virtue of its nature, language is the medium of communication for internal and external dialogue. Hence, educating individuals about the importance of language in a cognitively peace-conducive manner becomes a foundation for attaining peace at the higher group level.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Experiential Learning Techniques: Techniques that offer students the possibility to learn in a concrete way from a hands-on perspective and embodiment, involving cognition, physical movement, social interaction, emotional awareness, consciousness-raising discussions, and self-reflection.

English Teacher Training Program: A four-year bachelor program of studies at the National University of Río Cuarto that prepares students to be English teachers. The program focuses on four main areas, including language, culture, linguistics, and teacher education.

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