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A Study of the Discourse of


A Study of the Discourse of Terrorism in Pupil Conversations (aged 16 - 18) and Questionnaires from a sample of Secondary Schools in Warwickshire – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: A Study of the Discourse of

  • A Study of the Discourse of Terrorism in Pupil
    Conversations (aged 16 - 18) and Questionnaires
    from a sample of Secondary Schools in
  • 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
  • In which school subjects do they think
  • could be discussed?
  • How could this aid teacher training courses?

  • 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
  • - 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 198882. 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
  • 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
  • (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 19928)
  • (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 200832 )
  • - 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 1984659).
  • - 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 19932-3).
  • - 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 199930).

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 200847)
  • How has it been introduced in other countries?
  • EXAMPLE 1 Northern Ireland
  • - Focus on peace building
  • - Three strategies were employed to encourage
    reconciliation (Cannon 2003133)
  • (a) addressing community relationship issues,
  • (b) developing integrated schools and
  • (c) promoting interschool links with a view to
    promoting reconciliatory attitudes
  • - 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
  • (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

  • How will it work in the UK?
  • DCSF education can be a powerful weapon against
    terrorism (DCSF 20083)
  • 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 20082-3)
  • Communities and Local Government Committee 2010
  • 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 201059).

  • 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).

  • What impact does this have on
  • Religious Education?
  • Subjects where terrorism could be included
  • Citizenship (QCA 200729),
  • 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
  • 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
  • Religious Education could be incorporated into
    any Prevent strategies because RE focusses on the
    religious aspects of life.

  • 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.

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.
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.
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
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
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
  • 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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