Focus on Education

(Continued from April) The objectives of all education can be summarized in four inter-related goals: information, training, indoctrination, and enlightenment. David Parnas, in his letter on peace education, recommends more emphasis on information. (“The courses would concentrate on science and technology…”) and less on indoctrination. (“We have to avoid appearing interested only in propaganda.”)

The training function of peace education is by its nature relevant in special settings, for example, in producing qualified peace makers, conciliators, arbitrators, etc.

There remains the vital function of enlightenment. Elementary knowledge of economics can dispel the myth that war is good for the economy. A cursory acquaintance with recent history will knock the props from under the belief that preparations for war insure peace or that militarily strongest countries gain most or suffer least from wars.

So much for content. As to the channels, I agree again with David Parnas that the methods of “mass education by means of lectures to large audiences, letters to newspapers, and an occasional appearance on radio or television” are not sufficient. Parnas proposed “a set of Science for Peace short courses, offered in the evening in neighborhoods or even homes….” In other words, there is more to peace education than classroom or lecture hall or mass media. What is most needed is person-to-person contacts between scientists and non-scientists in small study groups to facilitate the development of independent thinking and enlightenment through two-way communication. It is at the grass roots where eventually the political potential in the cause of peace must grow. As David says, “We have to reach groups of people who aren’t consciously interested in peace.”

— Anatol Rapoport

From NEWSWEEK, March 30, 1987: Patrick J. Buchanan, “Memorandum for the President re The Reagan Agenda and the Legacy”.

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