Languages ​​and peace education –

Languages ​​and peace education

Posted by Pénélope Venskus on

Languages ​​and peace education

A complete education is much more than just learning theoretical concepts. Educating children is also teaching them to live in society, it is teaching them to be part of the world. It means transmitting the fundamental values ​​of our society to future generations. In our democratic society, we value peace education.

Educating for peace is not like teaching mathematics. Peace is not a set of knowledge to remember, but a guiding principle, a moral orientation that guides our actions. It is rather a question of transmitting a know-how that promotes respect, mutual aid and compassion. This type of learning takes time and is often done under the guise of another education, such as learning another language.

Learning a foreign language is one of the best ways to educate for peace. In fact, when you learn a language, you encounter another culture at the same time. We can travel to discover another culture, but studying its language influences us much more deeply, because each language carries with it an understanding of the world of its own. Rubbing shoulders with a vision of the world different from ours opens the limits of our thinking by showing us another way of relating to objects and people.

For example, in French, we say "Attention à la marche!" to warn someone of a risk of falling down stairs. The emphasis of the sentence is on walking, which represents a potential danger to the person. In the same situation, in English we would rather say "Watch your step!" Here, the word "step" translates to "not." The emphasis of the sentence is on the person taking the step rather than the object. This mundane example reveals an interesting difference between French and English in this situation. The sentence in English implies that the person is responsible for his well-being, since it is he who sets the pace, while in French the person is a victim of the danger of walking. In English, the subject is active while it is passive in French. This is a different worldview between the two languages, which teaches us something about the people belonging to a culture that speaks them.

The interest of lingering over this type of analysis lies in the nuances and differences in the expression of the same situation for the two languages. As we learn, we notice more of these kinds of nuances. Little by little, a new conception of the world takes shape in our mind, which mixes with that of our mother tongue. This mixture makes our thinking more flexible, and allows us to imagine ourselves more easily in the shoes of others.

When we begin to understand how a person from another culture thinks, that person becomes concrete for us. A more sincere and fair portrait replaces the abstract or caricatural one constructed by the prejudices we hold about it. The more we understand how the other thinks, the more we can establish points of resemblance with them and the more the cultural distance which separates us becomes thinner. In other words, learning the language of another culture opens us up to others by realizing the humanity we share. And it is precisely in this way that learning a strange language is simultaneously learning peace, because when you know a person or a people, it is very difficult to hate them, as it is very well said. Henri Bergson: “He who knows the language and literature of a people thoroughly cannot be its enemy ”.

Thus, learning another language means inserting ourselves into another culture and into another conception of the world. This exercise softens our thinking and reveals to us the humanity of the other. When we can imagine how a person from a different culture thinks, it means that we understand them, and the other, finally, is no longer so foreign as that. It's easy to hate a person or despise a culture we don't know. But from the moment we feel a certain sympathy for them, which happens when we study a language, contempt and hatred give way to respect and compassion. This is why a comprehensive education, which aims to promote peace, focuses on learning second languages.

Author: Roxanne Deschesnes, master's student in philosophy and tutor at Mon Tuteur

Henri Bergson, The two sources of morality and religion , Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 2013, p. 304-305.

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.