Leaving Time for Modern History to Facilitate a Vibrant Peace Education in the U.S. Classroom


  • William David McCorkle College of Charleston


peace education, militarism, modern history, critical pedagogy


Modern history, particularly the time frame from the 1960s to the present, is often either completed skipped or given a cursory overview in many K-12 classrooms. Often, this is not done intentionally but is rather due to time constraints in the school schedule and inadequate planning for the disruptions of the typical school year. This contention of this article is that this is not only problematic from the aspects of historical knowledge and proper pedagogy, but particularly in the U.S. classroom this tends to reinforce ideas of militarism and the justifications of war by only focusing on more celebrated wars such as the War of Independence or World War II. By focusing on modern conflicts, teachers have an opportunity to integrate core ideas of peace education. Examples are given on how this critical and peace education approach can be used regarding four primary areas in recent U.S. history: The War in Vietnam, CIA interventions during the Cold War, the War in Afghanistan, and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.