exploring students’ subjective understandings of peace in the contexts of their everyday
lives. I suspect that most students do not ordinarily consider whether or not they conduct
their lives in a consciously peaceful fashion, much less demonstrate an intentional sense
of responsibility for advancing attitudes and behaviors of peacefulness within themselves
as well as in their interactions with others. Presuming that this is the case, I propose that
we, as educators, encourage students to first dig deeply beneath the surface of culturally
sanctioned definitions of peace to which we all typically attach; that is, definitions that
tend to position peace as the resolution of overt, physical and political conflicts between
people, communities, and nations. In turn, by addressing conceptions of peace in a more
personal, existential way with our students, we can bring to light more complex meanings
and contexts surrounding students’ evolving understandings of “peace” as a construct
engendered from within the individual, understandings that can be shared in discussions
among classroom peers as an activity of philosophical exploration and personal
excavation. Ultimately, I am suggesting that students would benefit immeasurably from
exploring the philosophical dimensions of peace as a dynamically subjective and critical
teaching/learning exercise, especially as excavated meanings uncover a variety of suspect
attitudes and assumptions about what peace means to the individual student at a given
moment in time.
Isolating Paulo Freire’s (2000) problem-posing educational model as the
prototype for stimulating greater self and social consciousness, I suggest posing the
following questions to students for ongoing development of habits of critical and
philosophical thinking: Do I see myself as a peacemaker? Or, do I see myself as a fighter,
as one who chooses to transgress against the other or retaliate in the midst of conflict?
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