Teaching about Human Rights: What is its DNA?

During the consultation phase on the development of the Australian National Curriculum, the Australian Human Rights Commission stated that they were concerned about the lack of a comprehensive and coherent coverage of Human Rights in the Draft Curriculum.  They also indicated on their website that

The Commission is participating in consultations on the draft curriculum and recommending ways in which the human rights content in the curriculum can be strengthened.

They also posted position paper on  how it could best be included.    Position Paper

The fact that their coverage of this matter on their website today still states that they are ‘engaged in consultations’ suggests that their intervention may have been too late.

However, for those teaching older students, who would like to include the study of the ideas and issues surrounding human rights in their teaching this video developed by the London School of Economics  The Burning Issue: The DNA of Human Rights | British Politics and Policy at LSE.  might be a useful resource.  It will certainly promote an interesting discussion and draw on important  ideas.

I was particularly drawn to the way in which the speaker, Professor Conor Gearty, demonstrated through interviews and props how

All powerful emancipatory ideas get sucked into the vortex of power, which seeks, not to remove them, but to twist them to meanings that suit the powerful

Teaching about peace and conflict without being overwhelmed

The terrible violence in Gaza has had many of us wondering if there will ever be any sustainable progress  towards building a peaceful and just settlement in this region.

Current events are of course very important ‘resources’ for teaching, but they also present their own challenges.  Not least of these is the danger of inadvertently constructing a view of world events where war, violence and conflict are inevitable and where some regional conflicts will never improve.

For this reason I am posting this video that you might wish to consider as a teaching resource, that could help to place  current events in a longer term context.  It was  sourced from Dr Kevin Clements a dedicated Quaker peace scholar and activist.


Sometimes stepping back and taking a longer term view of things can provide a fresh and perhaps more hopeful perspective.

It was produced by the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation and based on historian Kent Shifferd’s “From War to Peace“.   This slideshow describes 28 trends leading to the evolution of a global peace system.

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