Last year, Henry F. Moss Middle School in Bowling Green, Ohio, offered students a brand new course. And, as a headline in the local newspaper proclaimed, this was “not your traditional class.” For starters, the teacher—an army sergeant—had told the Bowling Green Daily News that one of his goals was to expose these seventh- and eighth-graders to “military values” that they could use as “building blocks” in life. To that end, students in the class earn military style ranks, engage in army-style “PT” (physical training) and each Wednesday, wear camouflage pants and boots.
This is the Moss Middle School Leadership Corps, part of the growing trend of military-style education for pre-adolescents.
The kit is a catalog of basic material useful to educating young people and school personnel about the realities of military enlistment and war. The catalog also includes some information on alternatives to enlistment, as well as items written for organizers seeking to reach out to local schools.
All of the material in this catalog was carefully reviewed for relevancy and accuracy as of the summer of 2014. A task force of knowledgeable organizers did the research. It does not include all of the available literature on this topic because much of what exists is out of date or is no longer being produced by the original sources. Consequently, we focused on identifying items that we felt were basic and most useful for effective organizing and educating. New items may be added to future kits as they become available.
As a journalist and researcher, I’ve spent the last several years investigating the expanding network of links between public education and the U.S. military. With my colleague Scott Harding, I’ve also been researching the grassroots response to this phenomenon: the counter-recruitment movement.
Counter-recruitment and school demilitarization work in the U.S. has gone through several cycles of expansion and contraction during the last few decades. The first expansion was during the early 1980s when it was supported by a small number of national organizations, such as the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), War Resisters League, Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO) and National Lawyers Guild. Most grassroots activities at the time were carried out by chapters of these organizations and a number of independent community peace groups (including COMD and, eventually, Project YANO).
It’s not necessary to go to Washington for a protest to significantly engage key issues related to the War on Terrorism. Try going to a local coffee shop or any other public place where you can strike up a conversation with youth or young adults about the choices and paths that the young people in your community see in front of them.
Through articles, images, survey data and interviews, Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It documents the seeds of war that are planted in the minds of young people in many different countries. However, it also explores the seeds of resistance to this militarisation that are being sown resiliently and creatively by numerous people. READ MORE