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Quality as critique: education promoting alternative perspectives among Jewish and Palestinian Israeli youth

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Abstract:

Scholars have long recognized the potential role of education as a site for socializing youth into societal values (Hahn 1999; Meyer 1977). Yet in intractable conflict areas, education can exacerbate tensions (Bush and Saltarelli 2000), indoctrinating students into exclusionary societal discourses and delegitimizing alternative perspectives (Bar-Tal 2007). In such contexts, the question of what is considered “quality education” must address not only issues of access and equality, but also the degree to which students receive tools allowing them to think critically and raise questions about the reality in which they live.

In the face of conflict-promoting narratives, peace education aims to provide individuals with a “quality education” by fostering an alternative, multi-narrative view of the conflict. In this paper, I utilize Peace Child Israel (PCI) and Sadaka Reut (SR), two Israeli peace education organizations bringing together Jewish and Palestinian citizen youth, as case studies for conceptualizing and interrogating “quality education” in a conflict context. In my research, I ask: How should we define “quality education” in conflict contexts? How is that “quality” shaped by, enabled and limited by the socio-political context? What is done to mitigate those constraints? How successful are these attempts?

To answer these questions I utilize a multi-layered, comparative approach, drawing upon multiple sources of data: retrospective life history interviews with approximately 70 alumni of both SR and PCI; observations of over 200 hours of organizational activities; and foundational documents and interviews with approximately 30 PCI/SR staff and board members. My analysis examines the mechanisms of program implementation to understand how each program works to provide its participants with a “quality education” and what factors enable and limit the success of these programs in this endeavor.

The narratives of PCI and SR alumni suggest that different approaches to peace education provide fundamentally different levels of “quality education,” although alternative narratives are promoted in the approaches used by both organizations. Alumni of the “mainstream” PCI articulate perspectives that indicate they are able to transcend, to some degree, the conflict-focused discourse pervasive in Israeli society. However, alumni of the “politicized” SR program go further, explicitly challenging societal narratives and current policies and narrating a critical worldview that has been sustained over years and, in some cases, decades. Alumni of both programs also indicate that they feel empowered, not threatened, by their critical awareness.

My research has important implications for the study of peace and comparative education. Foremost, it challenges skepticism about the potential of peace education in intractable conflicts, suggesting despite socio-political constraints, participants in peace education programs can receive a “quality education” that provides them with an alternative to hegemonic societal discourses. Its focus on peace building adds to our knowledge about the “global dimension” of comparative education (Arnove 2003) and its focus on contributing to international understanding and peace. Finally, this study illustrates the methodological benefits of a comparative approach, which provides important information about the link between program mechanisms and their outcomes; and of an approach to examining program impact that uses life history narratives, contextualizing program experiences within the framework of external factors that might shape participants’ beliefs and actions.


References
Arnove, Robert. 2003. “Introduction: Reframing Comparative Education.” Pp. 1-23 in Comparative Education: The Dialectic of the Global and the Local (2nd edition), edited by R. Arnove and C.A.Torres. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Bar-Tal, Daniel. 2007. “Socio-psychological Foundations of Intractable Conflicts.” American Behavioral Scientist 50(11): 1430-1453.
Bush, Kenneth D, and Diana Saltarelli. 2000. The Two Faces of Education in Ethnic Conflict: Towards a Peacebuilding Education for Children. Florence, Italy: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre
Hahn, Carole H. 1998. Becoming Political: Comparative Perspectives on Citizenship Education. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Maoz, Ifat. 2011. “Does Contact Work in Protracted Asymmetrical Conflict? Appraising 20 Years of Reconciliation-Aimed Encounters Between Israeli Jews and Palestinians." Journal of Peace Research 48(1): 115-125.
Meyer, John. 1977. “The Effects of Education as an Institution.” American Journal of Sociology 83(1): 55-77.
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Association:
Name: 57th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p632938_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Ross, Karen. "Quality as critique: education promoting alternative perspectives among Jewish and Palestinian Israeli youth" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 57th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Hilton Riverside Hotel, New Orleans, LA, Mar 10, 2013 <Not Available>. 2014-12-11 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p632938_index.html>

APA Citation:

Ross, K. , 2013-03-10 "Quality as critique: education promoting alternative perspectives among Jewish and Palestinian Israeli youth" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 57th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Hilton Riverside Hotel, New Orleans, LA <Not Available>. 2014-12-11 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p632938_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Scholars have long recognized the potential role of education as a site for socializing youth into societal values (Hahn 1999; Meyer 1977). Yet in intractable conflict areas, education can exacerbate tensions (Bush and Saltarelli 2000), indoctrinating students into exclusionary societal discourses and delegitimizing alternative perspectives (Bar-Tal 2007). In such contexts, the question of what is considered “quality education” must address not only issues of access and equality, but also the degree to which students receive tools allowing them to think critically and raise questions about the reality in which they live.

In the face of conflict-promoting narratives, peace education aims to provide individuals with a “quality education” by fostering an alternative, multi-narrative view of the conflict. In this paper, I utilize Peace Child Israel (PCI) and Sadaka Reut (SR), two Israeli peace education organizations bringing together Jewish and Palestinian citizen youth, as case studies for conceptualizing and interrogating “quality education” in a conflict context. In my research, I ask: How should we define “quality education” in conflict contexts? How is that “quality” shaped by, enabled and limited by the socio-political context? What is done to mitigate those constraints? How successful are these attempts?

To answer these questions I utilize a multi-layered, comparative approach, drawing upon multiple sources of data: retrospective life history interviews with approximately 70 alumni of both SR and PCI; observations of over 200 hours of organizational activities; and foundational documents and interviews with approximately 30 PCI/SR staff and board members. My analysis examines the mechanisms of program implementation to understand how each program works to provide its participants with a “quality education” and what factors enable and limit the success of these programs in this endeavor.

The narratives of PCI and SR alumni suggest that different approaches to peace education provide fundamentally different levels of “quality education,” although alternative narratives are promoted in the approaches used by both organizations. Alumni of the “mainstream” PCI articulate perspectives that indicate they are able to transcend, to some degree, the conflict-focused discourse pervasive in Israeli society. However, alumni of the “politicized” SR program go further, explicitly challenging societal narratives and current policies and narrating a critical worldview that has been sustained over years and, in some cases, decades. Alumni of both programs also indicate that they feel empowered, not threatened, by their critical awareness.

My research has important implications for the study of peace and comparative education. Foremost, it challenges skepticism about the potential of peace education in intractable conflicts, suggesting despite socio-political constraints, participants in peace education programs can receive a “quality education” that provides them with an alternative to hegemonic societal discourses. Its focus on peace building adds to our knowledge about the “global dimension” of comparative education (Arnove 2003) and its focus on contributing to international understanding and peace. Finally, this study illustrates the methodological benefits of a comparative approach, which provides important information about the link between program mechanisms and their outcomes; and of an approach to examining program impact that uses life history narratives, contextualizing program experiences within the framework of external factors that might shape participants’ beliefs and actions.


References
Arnove, Robert. 2003. “Introduction: Reframing Comparative Education.” Pp. 1-23 in Comparative Education: The Dialectic of the Global and the Local (2nd edition), edited by R. Arnove and C.A.Torres. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Bar-Tal, Daniel. 2007. “Socio-psychological Foundations of Intractable Conflicts.” American Behavioral Scientist 50(11): 1430-1453.
Bush, Kenneth D, and Diana Saltarelli. 2000. The Two Faces of Education in Ethnic Conflict: Towards a Peacebuilding Education for Children. Florence, Italy: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre
Hahn, Carole H. 1998. Becoming Political: Comparative Perspectives on Citizenship Education. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Maoz, Ifat. 2011. “Does Contact Work in Protracted Asymmetrical Conflict? Appraising 20 Years of Reconciliation-Aimed Encounters Between Israeli Jews and Palestinians." Journal of Peace Research 48(1): 115-125.
Meyer, John. 1977. “The Effects of Education as an Institution.” American Journal of Sociology 83(1): 55-77.


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