‘Educate to make peace’

Jan 9, 2009 by

The winner of a top education award believes good teaching techniques could solve the world’s ills.

Colin Hannaford, of Duke Street, Oxford, is one of nine people and one group to win an Upton Sinclair Award, run by the online education journal educationnews.org The 65-year-old, who is planning an international peace conference at Windsor Castle later in the month, said: “It’s an American award presented annually.

“I don’t get a medal or trophy, but it means my work is recognised and respected outside my own country.

“It’s a nice pat on the back — I’m very honoured and delighted.”

Mr Hannaford trained as a maths teacher at Cambridge University and began teaching at Magdalen College School in 1976.

Later, he became head of mathematics at the fledgling European School at Culham, near Abingdon, where he remained until 2004.

Mr Hannaford picked up the award — named after Upton Beall Sinclair Jr, a prolific American author and muckraker who wrote more than 90 books — for developing a teaching philosophy known as the Socratic Methodology, which promotes discussion in the classroom.

He said: “Teaching by instruction doesn’t work. The Socratic Methodology encourages students to exchange views, respect each other and accept criticism without getting angry. It encourages independence. All teachers can do is help children to learn, the responsibility to learn is on the shoulders of the children. You can’t squeeze information into their brains like toothpaste.”

Mr Hannaford, one of only two people from outside the United States to have won an Upton Sinclair Award, believes poor education is at the heart of the world’s social and political problems, as well as a root cause of war.

On January 28 and 29, he is hosting a peace conference at Windsor Castle called Give Peace A Voice, sponsored by the Qatar Education Foundation and hosted by the Institute for Democracy and Mathematics.

It will be attended by leading educators from the United States, Europe and Qatar, with the aim of promoting modern, inclusive teaching techniques in a bid to solve the world’s problems.

Mr Hannaford said: “I believe maths should be taught through discussion.

“My simple view of world politics is that people fight because they forget to talk.”

The Upton Sinclair Awards are designed to recognise “heroes of American education — great thinkers and motivators who believe children are important and deserve the best”.

Its judges described Mr Hannaford as a mathematician with an “unrelenting drive to ensure children have an opportunity to learn and an example of an educator solving problems and selflessly working for others”.

tshepherd@oxfordmail.co.uk

via ‘Educate to make peace’ (From The Oxford Times).

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