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A Study of the Discourse of “Terrorism” in Pupil Conversations (aged 16 - 18) and Questionnaires from a sample of Secondary Schools in Warwickshire Angela Quartermaine MA Hons. (Edin), Mst (Oxon), MPGCE The University of Warwick Research Questions Primary Research Question: Do students think the topic of “terrorism” should be taught in schools? Subsidiary Questions: How do students define “terrorism”? What actions and motives for such actions do they associate with “terrorist” behaviour? Do students want to learn about the topic of “terrorism”? In which school subjects do they think “terrorism” could be discussed? How could this aid teacher training courses? Background 1. Reasons for conducting the study - Personal interest & teaching experience - Links made to religion 2. Background reading - Definitions of terrorism - Government policy - Education links 3. Theoretical Assumptions - Interpretivism, postmodernism and liberal feminism Definitions of Terrorism 1. Historical Overview of term - Very complex: may have begun with Robespierre's “Reign of Terror”, 1793-1794 France (Laqueur 2004). - Post-1980s terrorism saw “fourth wave” (Rapoport 2004) of “new terrorism”. Example: the sarin gas attack in the Tokyo underground by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in 1995. - Religion, particular radical Islam, is often credited as “the most important defining characteristic” of this “new terrorism” (Schmid 1988:82. Also Hoffman 2006 & Juergensmeyer 2000). - However, does “new terrorism” really exists? (See Gray 2002). - Religious forms of terrorism are not new. - Other changes in terrorism could be a result of new technologies rather than a distinctive change in the nature of terrorism. Definitions of Terrorism 2. Dictionary Definition From the Latin terrere meaning “frighten” and defines it as “extreme fear” or “the use of terror to intimidate people” (Oxford English Dictionary) The word “terrorist” has a more specific definition as “a person who uses violence in the pursuit of a political cause”. 3. My Working Definition Terrorism is a pejorative term, used to demonstrate one's interpretation of violent acts that have affected a civilian population. There are many motivations, actions and actors (both state and non- state) that have been used to support one's interpretation of the term “terrorism”, but all of these ideas only serve to highlight any underlying power struggles that the author (and wider society) have attributed to the use of the term. Definitions of Terrorism 4. Schmid's “four arenas” of “terrorism” (Schmid 1992:7) (a) academic discourse “Terrorism is an anxiety-inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-)clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons...” (Schmid 1992:8) (b) statements made by the state - UN definition - UK legal definition (Lord Carlile's report) (c) public debates on terrorism (& the media) - The general public hear about attacks and the groups associated with terrorism from the media, therefore the pupils are most likely to have gained their knowledge about terrorism from this arena - Exploited by terrorists to get their cause into the public sphere (see Mitra 2009) (d) those who oppose “our” societies’ values and support or perform acts of violence and terrorism - “The mere act of paying attention to what the terrorists have to say is a fateful step … that might lead to somehow “justifying” what is unjustifiable’ (Zulaika and Douglas 2008:32 ) - Toros (2008) study in Mindanao Definitions of Terrorism 5. Religion and Terrorism - Historically, “religion provided the only acceptable justifications for terror,” until the nineteenth century and the rise of Marxism (Rapoport 1984:659). - The modern era has seen the “fourth wave” of terrorism; a rise in it being associated with religion again (examples could include the IRA, Tamil Tigers and al-Qaeda). - Religiously-associated terrorism is a distinctive form of terrorism because the violence not only has a moral justification, but it is believed necessary for achieving the followers' goals: religion legitimises the cause and struggle of the terrorist (Hoffman 1993:2-3). - “To interpret acts of violence and terrorism committed in the name of religion as necessarily motivated by other concerns and lacking in religious qualities is an error... [it] misunderstands religion and underestimates its ability to underwrite deadly conflict on its own terms” (Appleby 1999:30). UK Government Policy The Prevent Strategy: Education The Prevent strategy wants schools, universities and other education bodies to take an active role in dealing with “terrorist” and “extremist” behaviour. Schools in particular: “can play an important role in helping young people to become more resilient to the messages of violent extremists, and in tackling the sorts of grievances extremists seek to exploit, through creating an environment where all young people learn to understand others, value and appreciate diversity and develop skills to debate and analyse.” (HM Government 2008:47) Education How has it been introduced in other countries? EXAMPLE 1: Northern Ireland - Focus on peace building - Three strategies were employed to encourage reconciliation (Cannon 2003:133): (a) addressing community relationship issues, (b) developing integrated schools and (c) promoting interschool links with a view to promoting reconciliatory attitudes EXAMPLE 2: USA - After 9/11, the focus was on: (a) Helping pupils cope with the trauma of 9/11, whilst ensuring that Muslim students did not become subject to any form of racial abuse or harassment. (b) Security issues, with the National School Safety and Security Services stating that “a terrorist attack upon a school in the United States may be improbable, the first step toward preparedness is admitting that it is at least possible that terrorists could strike a school or schools in our country.” (c) Lesson plans. One example focussed on teaching pupils about the history of Afghanistan, the teaching of tolerance and multiculturalism as well as ensuring that the pupils were prepared for emergencies in Social Studies lessons (PBS website). Education How will it work in the UK? DCSF: “education can be a powerful weapon against [terrorism]” (DCSF 2008:3) DfES: “Extremism and terrorist violence and targeting civilians cannot be justified in the context of a democratic society. Schools should actively challenge such beliefs in a constructive but unequivocal way.” (DfES 2008:2-3) Communities and Local Government Committee 2010 report: “There is clearly a disjuncture between the stated national aims of the Prevent educational activity and the reality of much of its content - much of it is positive and diversionary youth activity, but it is not Prevent activity in any meaningful sense.” (H.M. Government 2010:59). Education How will it work in Warwickshire? The Prevent Strategy is intended as a guide for local authorities, therefore I have examined how Warwickshire has interpreted the guidelines. Warwickshire is a low risk area, therefore Prevent funding is lower in this region. Warwickshire Safer Schools Partnership Strategy 2007-2010: Warwickshire Police and Local Authority intends to engage with young people and protect them from harm, as required by the government's “Every Child Matters” policy. Warwickshire Community Safety Agreement gives details for how each local area should have targeted strategies and interventions for a variety of issues. Counter Terrorism is seen as a high risk area that all partners should focus on, as stated by the Prevent Strategy, and work should be conducted in relation to hate crime and community cohesion and engagement. Warwickshire Learning Platform: a website giving more specific documents relating to the Prevent Strategy and violent extremism/terrorism (put together by the local police). Police Events: Natural Born Leaders (an event for vulnerable young people); Communities against Terrorism (where pupils discuss how to respond to a terrorist threat); Watch over Me (a personal safety toolkit for teachers); and Tapestry (a drama group that engages with young people through an interactive play). Education What impact does this have on Religious Education? Subjects where terrorism could be included: Citizenship (QCA 2007:29), PHSE and RE (REsiliance programme, see Religious Education Council of England and Wales website), Other subjects such as geography, history and sociology could include it (this requires further investigation). Toledo report states: “there is a religious aspect to many of the problems that contemporary society faces, such as intolerant fundamentalist movements and terrorist acts” (The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights 2007:87). Religious Education could be incorporated into any Prevent strategies because RE focusses on the religious aspects of life. Education From the literature review, I predicted that pupils would think that there is a link between terrorism and religion. However, RE teachers cannot be expected to teach such a difficult, emotive and perhaps dangerous subject without very clear, factual advice about “terrorism” and some advice on how to present it to pupils. This topic has the potential to have a serious and negative impact on pupils if it is not taught correctly. In some cases, it may result in an increase in racist or religiously-motived threats (or even attacks) against those discussed in a “terrorism” lesson. Therefore, my study aims to provide some awareness of pupil opinions, which could guide further research and consequently help teachers make an informed decision about the appropriate materials and lesson style for their own classes. Overview of data collection Ethical Considerations Theoretical Standpoint Mixed Methods Approach 1. Survey 205 pupils from 7 schools around Warwickshire. Schools included Grammar and State schools. 2. Semi-structured Group Discussions Approximately 60 pupils took part in 10 different discussion groups from a range of subjects. Survey Results Q3: 122 pupils wanted to learn about terrorism in school; 35 didn't want to learn about it and 64 pupils were unsure Q4: The subjects which they thought the topic could be taught in were Citizenship Studies and Religious Studies, with Politics and History also featuring quite highly. Subjects 200 180 160 140 120 Number of pupils 100 Can be taught Best subject 80 60 40 20 0 Business Studies Computing English Literature History Philosophy Psychology Art & Design Citizenship Studies Economics General Studies Media Studies Physics Sociology Subjects that it can be taught in Survey Results The pupils were given an open-ended question about their definitions of terrorism (Q5). The majority of pupils associated the word with physical violence. 65 pupils made a religious link; 22 made a link to politics. 40 35 30 25 20 Male Femaie 15 10 5 0 Physical violence Religious Link Attention Harms Innocents Personal Psychological Problem Harming others Psychological violence Political Link Small group Unjust cause Make Threats Survey Results Q8: For motivations, the pupils were asked to put the following categories in order of importance: anger, a desire to protect their society and family, hatred, money, personal violent desires, politics, racism or prejudices, religious ideas, revenge and for glory. As can be seen in the graph showing the mode results, religious ideas were generally considered to be the most important motivation for terrorists. 12 10 8 6 Mode 4 2 0 Anger To Protect Others Hatred Money Personal Violent Desires Politics Racism/Prejudice Religious Ideas Revenge For Glory Survey Results Q10: For threats and actions, the pupils were able to give positive, negative or unsure responses to a list of different activities. The pupils generally thought that the actions most associated with terrorism included: intimidation, the killing of non-military citizens, mass murder, roadside bombs, shootings, suicide attacks and violent threats. However, the pupils were less sure about Internet propaganda, the killing of soldiers, making speeches, protest marches, the selling of drugs and trying to get nuclear weapons. Once these questions were completed, two open-ended questions were asked concerning which groups or individuals the pupils had heard of (Q13) and which areas of the world the pupils thought these terrorists might come from (Q14). Q13: The most frequent responses were al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and the IRA. 31 pupils did not respond to this question. Q14: 183 respondents answered this question. 67 pupils wrote “anywhere” or “no area”. Other pupils mainly mentioned the Middle East, Iraq, Asia, Afghanistan and “religious areas”. Only 2 pupils stated that terrorists could come from the UK, 5 pupils wrote the USA. Discussion Group Results Due to the broad range of responses gathered, it is difficult to summerise all the data here. Therefore, I will focus on the links made between religion and terrorism, with a particular focus on the implications this could have in education. - Pupils generally concurred with the survey responses - Religion featured very highly in all the discussions. - Other motivations discussed included politics, power, social inequalities and economic concerns. - Some pupils saw religion as a key feature of terrorism - Others declared that terrorists used religion as a justification or that they simply misunderstood the teachings of their faith. - All the discussions included some details about one religion, Islam, above other faith groups. Discussion Group Results Main Discussion Points: RELIGION RELIGIOUS LINK: - There was a clash of cultures or religion behind terrorist attacks - The power of religion encouraging the activities, either through the promise of an afterlife or the use of religion to exert superiority - Prejudices, either against another religious group or against members of their own faith were a motivating factor for terrorists NO RELIGIOUS LINK: - Religion was misused to justify terrorist attacks, either through the religion itself or as an excuse for the activities - Religion could be misunderstood, because the texts can be ambiguous - Terrorists may use religion by “masquerading behind [it] to stir up fear” (1004aB3) or have been “brainwashed” (1003bB2 and 1005aB2) - Other things, such as troops invading a country, or politics, might make people act in that way (1008aB3). Discussion Group Results Main Discussion Points: ISLAM Islam was the most frequently mentioned religion, with many students perceiving an increased prejudice against Muslims in society. Comments included: - The media focus on Islam has caused an increase in Islamophobia and incorrect stereotypes (1002aB6, 1002aG1, 1003cG2, 1004aB2 and 1005aG1). - There has been an increase in prejudice: anyone with a dark skin is labelled as a Muslim and so called a terrorist” (1002aB1); one pupils said “because we all have the same colour face, people link Indians to Muslims” (1007aG3). - Only a small minority of people who committed terrorist attacks, some pupils said that the vast majority of Muslims disassociate themselves from the ideas (1003aB1) or feel disgusted by the attacks (1002aG1). They had interpreted their religion wrongly and caused the stereotypes seen in the media, so they were to blame for such views (1004aB2). Discussion Group Results Main Discussion Points: EDUCATION The benefits of discussing terrorism in schools: - There is an increased problem of prejudice in society and this could combat it - Education could help reduce such social problems - It would increase pupil knowledge and awareness, so that they could understand why certain attacks, like 9/11 or 7/7 happened - Religious Education was mentioned as a subject where “terrorism” could be taught but (despite the results in the survey) PHSE/General Studies was rejected because the pupils felt that they did not pay enough attention in that subject. The Potential Problems: - Teacher or government bias could come through the curriculum - The whole “spectrum of terrorism” should be open to discussion, not just Islamic groups - Should governments be considered terrorists too? That aspect would be ignored. - It could be detrimental to social integration, because some students may find it too upsetting or it could cause more prejudice and bullying in schools - It may even encourage someone to act in a negative way Analysis How can these results be used by teachers and those who train teachers? - The pupils linked terrorism to religion – in particular Islam. - They wanted to learn about terrorism, but were concerned about the bias that could come out (either from the teacher or from the government) - RE was considered an important subject for these discussions. - They wanted to discuss a range of groups and issues associated with terrorism; this differed to the Warwickshire Police approach, which was to include the discussion in PHSE alongside other personal safety issues. - Some pupils were concerned that it would not be taught well and, in extreme cases, it could actually cause some pupils to act out in a negative way – e.g. Bullying or copy-cat activities. Future Research Plans 1. Need to investigate the current resources available for teachers in more detail (e.g. exam boards) 2. Conduct a comparative study with other local authorities – e.g. Coventry or Birmingham – that receives more Prevent funding and see if pupil views differ in those areas (or in schools receiving funding) 3. Conduct the survey and discussion groups again, asking additional questions, to gain deeper insights. Also need to consider the possibility that future government guidelines may alter current findings.
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