Harvard Educational Review
  1. Fall 2007 Issue »

    Symposium

    Voices for Peace: Educators Respond to the Virginia Tech Shootings

    The tragic shootings on the Virginia Tech campus on April 16, 2007, shook the entire nation, sparking debates about gun laws, the perpetrator’s mental health, the responsibility of college administrators, and the prevalence of violence on campuses today. For those watching the media coverage of the incident, the images and video clips of panic and grief brought back memories of other recent shootings in educational settings, such as those at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 and the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989. Reminded that this most recent incident of violence was certainly not the first of its kind — though it was the deadliest — the Editors of the Harvard Educational Review wondered how the field of education could respond to ensure that future such incidents are prevented. What changes can we make in our education practice and policies? How can we create education systems that promote peace? In this collection of essays, we turn to twelve educational researchers and practitioners whose work focuses on peace education, conflict resolution, and violence prevention. These authors provide insights on creating educational spaces that are safe, secure, and peaceful.

    Elavie Ndura opens with an essay focused on the intimate connections between peace and social justice. She calls on institutions of higher education, “groomers of the national and global elite,” to restore social justice and prepare citizens to create peace by dismantling systems of oppression. Ian Harris then sheds light on the field of peace education, its history and its uses, while advocating for a comprehensive peace education curriculum in schools and institutions of higher education. Josephine M. Kim draws from her experience working at Virginia Tech as a counselor in the aftermath of the shootings. She explores the cultural underpinnings of violence, stressing the importance of multicultural competence and advocating for empathic, caring intervention with potential perpetrators of violence rather than passive tolerance. Rosemarie Stallworth-Clark discusses the implications of the Virginia Tech tragedy for the discipline of psychology, calling for a shift in focus from human pathologies to human potential. Jing Lin draws our attention to the vicious cycle of hatred and aggression often perpetrated by adults and urges educators to break this cycle by moving away from a focus on consumerism and competition and toward a focus on love and wisdom, encouraging students to learn to see each other as connected by their common humanity.

    Tony Jenkins highlights the significance of cultivating the imagination and fostering critical inquiry in responding to and preventing acts of violence. He calls for the inclusion of peace education in teacher-training programs for the purpose of developing such skills. William Shorr then directs our attention to the teaching/research method of critical exploration as a tool for peace education. He recounts the personal and professional dilemmas he faced as a citizen and teacher working to create a space for class discussions about the impending war in Iraq in 2003. Linda Brion-Meisels, Steven Brion-Meisels, and Catherine Hoffman draw on their experience as peace educators and community organizers to present a framework for creating and maintaining peaceable schools and communities that connects the personal, professional, and political aspects of peace and justice. Finally, Adria Scharf and Ram Bhagat share their experience of using artistic performance and expression to transcend cultural boundaries and empower youth in Richmond, Virginia — a city whose schools and neighborhoods are wracked by violence. Applying arts-based methodologies, they demonstrate how educators can reach out to youth who may not respond to more conventional forms of intervention and instill in them the foundations for peace and leadership.

    It will take time for our nation to fully respond to and understand the Virginia Tech incident and similar acts of violence, but we offer these essays to spark and continue conversations about how to create a culture of peace in educational settings.

    We dedicate this collection to those who perished on April 16th, and to the students, families, faculty, and staff of Virginia Tech with whom we stand in solidarity as they work to heal and rebuild their community.

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    Fall 2007 Issue

    Abstracts

    Legal Literacy for Teachers
    A Neglected Responsibility
    David Schimmel and Matthew Militello
    “I Was Born Here, but My Home, It’s Not Here”
    Educating for Democratic Citizenship in an Era of Transnational Migration and Global Conflict
    Thea Renda Abu El-Haj
    Surveillance Cameras in Schools
    An Ethical Analysis
    Bryan R. Warnick
    Symposium
    Voices for Peace: Educators Respond to the Virginia Tech Shootings

    Book Notes

    Lenses on Literacy Coaching
    By Cathy Toll

    To Remain an Indian
    By K. Tsianina Lomawaima and Teresa L. McCarty

    Self-Taught
    By Heather Andrea Williams

    Unfinished Business
    Edited by Pedro A. Noguera and Jean Yonemura Wing