Teaching about Nuclear Weapons in Citizenship - CND
What would the verdict be if President Truman were put on trial for the atomic-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? How would you act if you were a world leader during a nuclear weapons crisis? What would your pressure group focus on?
CND Peace Education – the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s education programme – engages thousands of school students across England with questions like these each year.
We aim to empower students with knowledge on the hugely important - and controversial - issues of nuclear weapons and peace, so they can make up their own mind. We encourage critical thinking through creative and collaborative learning methods such as role-play, spectrum activities, group presentations, and origami. At the same time, we are helping students to develop skills such as discussion and empathy.
We offer free, cross-curricular workshops and an assembly, catering to Years 3 to 13. We also have five free teaching packs, thousands of which are downloaded or requested as hard copies annually. Our sessions and teaching packs are very relevant to numerous subjects, including: Citizenship, RE, History, English, and Physics, as well as helping meet SMSC and Prevent requirements. They are all highly regarded by teachers and students alike: see
The importance of peace and nuclear weapons education, and its relevance to Citizenship
In 2008 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the UK Government to make peace education, ‘a fundamental subject in the education system’. Peace education can range from the international level to the interpersonal and inner level: from exploring nuclear weapons debates to practicing non-violent conflict resolution and mindfulness. CND Peace Education focuses on the former, but we hope that the methods that we encourage students to adopt help their interpersonal and personal growth.
Nuclear weapons education specifically is extremely important. The UN strongly advocates nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation education on the grounds that (in the words of then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2016), ‘It is important to bring the discussion of these critical issues to schools in all countries to inform and empower young people to become agents of peace’.
Nuclear weapons have also been one of the most prominent topics in the media in the last few years. Many students have some knowledge of the issue, particularly regarding shifting relations between the USA and North Korea. However, students’ understanding often lacks nuance and detail. CND Peace Education’s classroom activities help provide that additional information and allow students to grapple with some of the complexity of the subject in an accessible way.
Citizenship is one of the subjects that our sessions and resources link to most strongly. This is partly through the skills that we help students develop (including core Citizenship skills such as interrogating evidence, evaluating viewpoints, and presenting reasoned arguments), but also through the content of the activities:
In our Dial M For Missile pack we get students to think about similarities and differences between the global nuclear weapons landscape (including citizens’ experiences of them) today and during the Cold War.
In Truman On Trial students learn how criminal courts operate, through a mock trial of President Truman for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Extension activities include reflecting on what a fair response to Truman would be if he were convicted whilst still alive. In the Citizenship follow-up lesson from the same pack – a TES Resources ‘Pick’ which was also a finalist in the Education Resources Awards 2018 – students explore media reporting and bias in the context of nuclear weapons.
In The Bomb Factor students examine the UK’s role in the rest of the world, and international rights and responsibilities, in a lesson inspired by The X Factor where they create performances as pro- or anti-nuclear weapons countries in a bid to impress a panel of student judges. You can see it in action here:
. The teaching pack was awarded the Association for Citizenship Teaching’s Quality Mark, and is a TES Resources ‘Pick’.
In Under Pressure students learn about pressure groups and devise plans for their own, based on an issue that they care about. Under Pressure was awarded ACT’s, Quality Mark.
We also encourage learning beyond the classroom, through enrichment activities. For example, in Sadako’s Cranes for Peace we suggest visiting Bradford Peace Museum, submitting students’ news reports to the local paper, and writing to MPs to find out their wish for peace. The teaching pack is a TES Resources ‘Pick’.
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