It’s not unusual to begin events in a Quaker Meeting House with a period of silence, but that silence is not so often punctuated by the sound of a large gun. The Peace Education Outreach Day in Manchester was just a short distance from the war memorial in the city centre and took place on 11th November. Many Friends are looking for opportunities to share our concerns for peace in schools; the Armistice Day gunfire underlined the importance of doing this.
Jointly facilitated by Pax Christi and Quaker Peace & Social Witness, NFPB was pleased to be a partner in setting up the day. Twenty participants from different parts of the country – mostly from the north – shared experiences, participated in interactive exercises and heard from QPSW and Pax Christi staff working on peace education full time. The materials produced by QPSW – Conscience and Conviction – provided a valuable focus, and we heard of a number of other Quaker and non-Quaker projects that are helping tell the story of those who resisted war 100 years ago.
The government’s promotion of a military ethos in schools is a particular contemporary challenge, so we need to find ways of using our more limited resources. The Teach Peace pack was produced by the Peace Education Network to provide a counterbalance. There is no one route for getting peace concerns into schools. It is useful to acknowledge the variety of opportunities that can be taken up. Friends have occasionally been able to set up lasting projects to help pass on skills in conflict resolution and peer mediation – such as CRESST – whilst others have simply responded as best they can to one-off invitations to speak to a group of students.
Friends have much to bring to peace education, and it is worth preparing and thinking imaginatively. Events such as this are helpful in bringing people to getheer to share information and to support one another. Thank you to all involved.