“Since war begins in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences for peace must be constructed” (preamble of the UNESCO Charter)
To see what needs to be changed in the world, we need to have information. To be able to change what needs to be changed, we need to have knowledge. Teachers, in their daily meetings with young people, have an invaluable chance to spread information and knowledge.
In August 2002, a UN study defining, evaluating and developing modern day disarmament and nonproliferation education was presented to the General Assembly. The results showed a frigthening lack of this kind of education. The report was followed by a resolution (57/60), calling upon all states ro follow its recommendations and to report their results to the UN after two years.
From the UN study definition of disarmament education (11:7):
The objectives of contemporary disarmament and non-proliferation education and training are:
- (a) To learn how to think rather than what to think about issues
- (b) To develop critical thinking skills in an informed citizenry
- (c) To deepen understanding of the multiple factors at the local, national, regional and global levels that either foster or undermine peace
- (d) To encourage attitudes and actions which promote peace
- (e) To convey relevant information on and to foster a responsive attitude to current and future security challenges through the development and widespread availability of improved methodologies and research techniques
- (f) To bridge political, regional and technological divides by bringing together ideas, concepts, people, groups and institutions to promote concerted international efforts towards disarmament, non-proliferation and a peaceful and non-violent world
- (g) To project at all levels the values of peace, tolerance, non-violence, dialogue and consultation as the basis for interaction among peoples, countries and civilizations.
The full study can be downloaded here.
Resolution 57/60 on disarmament and non-proliferation education can be found here
Teaching about these issues is far from easy. Education about nuclear weapons can create frustration and anxiety among students. It is important to leave space for openness and discussions and not to be afraid to let out the difficult and cumbersome questions.
In Learn about Nuclear Weapons, you as a teacher/educator, are offered ideas for classes or workshops. The aim is to deal with big and complicated issues in an interactive and interesting way. The discussion around nuclear weapons should be conducted in an honest and fact-based manner, but build on hope and humour to inspire rather than create fear and hopelessness. If you need to develop your own knowledge in these issues before bringing it up in class, you are advised to use the information provided in Learn about Nuclear Weapons.
Through the ICAN campaign (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) have had Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, a leading disarmament educator, develop an educational material on the nuclear danger and possible paths towards disarmament. Dr. Sullivan works at the Institute for Disarmament Education Action (IDEA) and as a consultant to the UN. She has created this material based on her long experience in educating young people in peace and disarmament issues. ICAN has also developed the booklet Learn Abolition, found below.
We hope you will find this material useful!
- Learn Peace (pdf) – 17 ideas for students to engage with this key issue for the survival of our world.
- Teaching about the bomb (pdf) – Interactive Pedagogy (and a few tricks to make learning about mass annihilation fun)
- Interactive toolkit
- Radiation is a Verb (pdf) – the contamination game
Maybe you want to collect ideas to create a theme day on nuclear weapons and disarmament. There are several great web resources available: