The No Nonsense GuidesThe series published by New Internationalist
2.Conflict and Peace
These four books in the series deal exhaustively but succinctly with just those issues that are bpec's raison d'etre.
And how persuasively and knowledgeably they both inform and argue their case.
1.We are told that "...humanity is changing the world climate and we need to do something about it, quick!" Since the book's publication this warning has increased in seriousness and urgency. The effects on human health, farming and food, wildlife and forests are explained in considerable detail. Sensible solutions are suggested at the end of each article The final chapter is headed, "Lasting solutions for a Global Crisis."
2."We need to understand the causes (of violence)and find ways to deal with it." The book analyses these causes and asks us to "imagine living a life in peace." Many examples of the success of peaceful actions to redress grievances are given, some on a stupendous scale. But, the author warns, "Peace needs hard work." Exactly how the peace movement could and should work are also detailed with clarity and commonsense. As Howard Zimm says, "This guide is excellent for students and peace activists. But hurry – time is short.
3.On human rights, Desmond Tutu (who else!) remarks: "Respecting human rights means respecting that every person is unique and entitled to a life of dignity and choice." The authors explain in considerable detail exactly what human rights are and what they are based upon. They also maintain that "All the different rights together make up a whole." The book provides convincing evidence that torture, persecution and the denial of work and education still exist all over the world, despite the Declaration half a century ago. But rights do not depend on declarations or laws, they are inherent, as explained in the American Declaration of Independence over 200 years ago. The abuses cited, the book maintains, must be resisted in different ways, according to the circumstances. At the end of the book there is a valuable list of contact and resources to aid the struggle against tyranny
4.Trade can also be a source of conflict, and Fair Trade gives examples of producers in Peru, Ghana, the Caribbean and many other areas, of how we exploit producers in the developing world. The point made is that paying them a fair price for their labour is the beginning of the fight-back against such exploitation.
All these books are powerful tools in the hands of all those who, in J.B. Priestley's words, struggle " to make this world a better place to live in."
Show Racism the Red Card (Combatting racist myths against asylum seekers).
This double book, issued by the by Show Racism the Red Card publishers, together with a complementary DVD, provides very clear guidelines for teachers, showing them how to use the very useful materials provided and apt quotations, especially from the Press. The DVD portrays some typical situations which the class, prompted by the teacher, can then discuss.
Quite fortuitously, my last review was of Refugee Boy, which could profitably be added to the above materials. There was also a recent report in The Guardian of a study, conducted by a former CID counter terrorism officer of Exeter University's European Muslim Research Centre. It revealed alarming statistics, demonstrating an increase in hate crimes against Muslims, including death threats and murder. The point it makes, based on detailed evidence, is that the ill-feeling that provokes these attacks is whipped up not only by extremists but also by "mainstream" reports, primarily in the media.
So it is clearly the duty of the education system to disabuse young minds of the prejudice thus created. They should do this not by counter propaganda but with simple facts. The two books show how very varied activities, questions, role playing, discussions based on what they have seen and heard, like examples of misreporting in the Press, can stimulate thought and affect children's attitudes.
One telling example is quoted of the constant battering readers get of news about "terrorism", usually associated with Muslim-sounding names. Its heading concerned a terrorist attack in an area with many Muslims. The actual report, often not read by the busy reader, revealed that it was an attack by neo-nazis on a Muslim neighbour!
The book thoroughly analyses and discusses terrorism, in all its aspects. There is no attempt to minimise the atrocities carried out by some Muslims. But the point is made that many non-Muslims are guilty of murder and other crimes, but when do you ever hear about a Christian murderer? A murderer's religion or philosophy is never taken into account when his crime is reported. Moral: don't generalise from individual cases, even if there seem to be a lot of them. Are all Britons to be blamed for the atrocities carried out in our name in the Empire?
The lesson of the books is: think it over. With their accompanying DVDs they provide an invaluable aid in the teaching of this vital subject.