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Kids' anti-war marches

This article initially caught my eye because it's about kids getting involved with nonviolence, but it's also interesting because it's a direct protest about the war in Iraq, and then talks about the strengths and weaknesses of that approach.

Look at the strengths and weaknesses of non-violent conflict resolution.

Learning aims

* Benefits of non-violent conflict resolution

* Limitations of non-violent conflict resolution


Draw a flow chart to show the stages of the war with Iraq.

Start with "Al-Qaeda decide to attack America" and continue the story from there.

Feedback loop
At any point where violence is used you can draw an arrow that takes the path back to the start of the flow chart. The idea is to show how just one angry individual can mount an attack that starts a new cycle of violence.

Vicious cycle
The longer you continue the story the more arrows you will have going back to the start, this increases the chance of further conflict. Explain that this 'vicious cycle' is one reason why some people favour non-violent conflict resolution.

Main activity

Strengths and limitations of non-violence
Through discussion or by preparing a poster or essay students weigh up the pros and cons of violence and non-violence in conflict resolution. Some possibles are shown below.

For each bullet point they should think of an example to show why it is a strength or limitation. The first three have already been done:

Strengths of non-violence
# No human life lost (hospitals bombed)
# No destruction of property (cities in ruins)
# No civilians involved (refugee crisis)
# No damage to environment
# Breaks the cycle of violence Limitations of non-violence
# No rapid response to a threat
# Negotiation can take years
# Wrongdoers may go unpunished
# Non-violence may be seen as weakness
# Irrational people will not negotiate
# Looking weak may prompt more violence

Extension activity
Students produce two cycles, one vicious (downward cycle) and one 'virtuous' (upward cycle). They are to be based on violent and non violent resolution to a conflict from their school life or local area.

Recap on the main teaching points and discuss any consensus reached.

Teachers' Background

Click here for our Iraq special section

* Over 500 pupils marched to 10 Downing Street in London and held a sit-down protest, blocking the gates.

Click here to watch our debate on Iraq

* Arabs and Israelis have fought five wars in the last fifty years.

* 3500 people have been killed in Northern Irelands 'troubles'.

* Between 60,000 and 200,000 Iraqi troops were killed in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Turn this into an assembly

* This would work well with readers standing in a circle to physically represent the stages of a vicious cycle of violence.

* The action moves anticlockwise getting worse for a couple of rotations as violence produces more violence.

* Then positive actions are used to halt the cycle and reverse its direction, this time positive action fosters an air of trust.

* To keep the cycles relevant to young people it would be best to use fictional events from the daily lives of children in Northern Ireland or Jerusalem (not political events).