Student Leadership Opportunities for Making ‘Peace’ in Canada’s Urban Schools: Contradictions in Practice

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Kathy Bickmore Angela MacDonald


Qualitative research on the range of anti-violence and peacebuilding-related programming in three large, diverse school districts illuminated contrasting approaches to student participation:  teachers and administrators empowered differing sub-sets of students as ‘leaders' in differing ways, to help reduce violence and build peer conflict management capacity.  The contrasting student roles that were implemented -monitors (enforcing rules), social skills leaders (addressing bullying), peer mediators (facilitating dispute resolution), student voice representatives (engaging in democratic consultation), and equity advocates (resisting bias and marginalization)- imply differing understandings of ‘peace' and of citizenship.  This paper probes the implications of these activities for diverse students' unequal opportunities to develop citizen agency and to build sustainable democratic peace.

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Author Biographies

Kathy Bickmore, OISE - University of Toronto

Dr. Kathy Bickmore is an Associate Professor with the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning, where she focuses on issues in secondary education. Her primary research interests include designing curricula for conflict education, peace building, democratization, and citizenship. She's also involved with research into controversial issues surrounding education on gender, sexuality, and ethnocultural equity.

Angela MacDonald, OISE - University of Toronto

Doctoral Candidate