Educating teachers for peace and justice in a context of violence and oppression
Speaker: Crispin Hemson (Director of the International Centre of Nonviolence)
How do we develop educators to teach around issues of violence and injustice, in the context of chronic violence?
Creating a more just and nonviolent society requires education – in formal, community, workplace, and other settings. How then do we make it effective in societies with long histories of violence and injustice (such as South Africa)? Specifically, what pedagogy for teacher education would most effectively build peace and forge justice in a context where violence permeates so many institutions?
The precarious nature of South African society was revealed in events of looting and arson in July 2021 that led also to racial violence on a scale that has not been witnessed for over 25 years. The response of ICON (the International Centre of Nonviolence) was to set up a short course to develop as facilitators/educators who can create opportunities for dialogic learning in areas of social division. This has been a form of action research that uses qualitative data to explore the nature of the challenges we face and the possibilities for positive change. Analysis drew in part on extensive review meetings by staff that identified challenges and possibilities.
Crispin Hemson has had a lifelong career in education, from primary to tertiary level and across different sectors from schooling to sport. In the 1980s he began work at the then University of Natal in adult education during a key phase in the anti-apartheid struggle, and in 2001 became Head of the School of Education at the University of Natal, before its merger to become part of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
After leaving UKZN in 2008, he was appointed Director of the International Centre of Nonviolence. Originally an NGO, it has become a research centre at Durban University of Technology, with a large postgraduate programme in Peacebuilding (over 60 doctoral students from across Africa), relevant undergraduate courses and an extensive range of community engagement activities, including a popular leadership development programme for young students.His research work has focused in particular on social justice in education and on transformative pedagogy around issues of gender, race and violence. At present he is engaged in a doctoral study on a pedagogy of peace and justice in a context of violence and injustice, which has an action research element. He is a frequent commentator on mass media on issues of violence, the legacy of apartheid and what people can do to bring change towards a more peaceful society.
Crispin is also an environmental activist with WESSA and heads a group that helps protect a local nature reserve in Glenwood, Durban.