Project or Program: Violence: Past, Present and Future

Jan Arnow


Description: High school curriculum/course

Violence: Past, Present and Future is a course that allows high

school students the opportunity to explore the history of violence, examine

the current climate of violence, review the alternatives to violence, and

project themselves into a future of their own design. Many of the course

assignments and discussions have been designed to develop students'

capacities to analyze, defend and critique public policies, and to develop

skill with the use of information resources available in the library and on

the Internet. Beginning with a look at the biological, sociological and

psychological roots of violence and aggression, class sessions throughout

the year include, but are not limited to: history of war and the theory of

just wars; heroes and heroines; cultural, institutional and structural

violence; violence in popular culture past and present -- sports, media,

entertainment, etc; alternatives to violence including mediation, conflict

resolution and theories of non-violence; and psychological aspects of

violence including powerlessness, anger and shame.

Students are engaged in:

* Reading

* Lectures

* Discussion

* Film and other resources

* Simulations

* Guest speakers

* Group research projects and presentation

* Fieldwork

The objectives of the course are:

* To understand the root causes of violence and


* To become aware of why and how violence has become an


expression of aggression;

* To explore different ways of looking at and thinking

about violence;

* To uncover our hidden assumptions about violence and


* To analyze real situations involving violence and some



* To develop and critique alternatives to violence;

* To enhance your social skills of listening, discussing,


advising,interacting, trusting, negotiating and



Costs: $0 but time, to date


Status: I taught this year-long course to 15 kids last year; this year I

have 50 kids. I'm doing it for free (the kids get credit, though) for the

high school my children attend.


Current Challenges:

1. 50 kids is too large a group and 2 hours is too long to have them

maintain their attention. I'll be changing the structure of the class to

accommodate the attention spans of these kids.

2. I have a dozen gang members in this group. It is particularly

difficult, surprisingly, to make any of this seem relevant to them.

3. My plans are to publish this curriculum and give workshops to teach

teachers how to teach this course.


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