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Suplementary teaching/study resources relating to our publication Refusing to Kill About the Peace Pledge Union



These teaching and learning notes and materials are for use with the book “Refusing to Kill: conscientious objection & human rights in the first world war”. They can be used with classes to learn more about human rights and conscientious objection at the time of the First World War and is also suitable for self-study.

In addition to learning about events and ideas at the time of the First World War, these materials aim to connect the past with the present. They aim to help users understand how human rights have developed over time and how they remain crucial to achieving a just and peaceful world.

Teachers may want to start with the Refusing to Kill book and then move to the learning notes and materials to explore the issues further. Alternatively, one could choose a section on the learning notes and materials to initiate a discussion and arouse interest and then move to the book to find out more about the issues raised. All the material on the learning notes and materials may be printed for use in class or as homework.

Teacher's notes and Q & A for students for each chapter

Teach Notes Teach Notes Teach Notes Teach Notes Teach Notes Teach Notes
Q & A Q & A Q & A Q & A Q & A Q & A

What’s in Learning notes and materials
- Questions & Activities based on Refusing to Kill (as well as other materials and resources available on the Peace Pledge Union website ) are suitable for English, Citizenship and History at Key Stages 3 and 4 as well as Personal, Social , Health and Economic Education (PSHE) and Language and Literacy
For each of the 21 sub-sections of the first 4 chapters of the book there are 5 questions. The first three questions in each 5 tend to be simpler, factual and based directly on the material in the book. The last two questions require further thought, discussion or research and may involve students working in groups, producing a poster, writing a letter, performing a play or taking part in a debate, for example. Chapters 5 and 6 are shorter but the same principles apply albeit there are fewer questions. Suggested web links for further research are included (PPU is not responsible for the content of other organisations’ websites linked to from the PPU web site).
- Teachers’ Notes - a brief description of the Chapter in Refusing to Kill; learning objectives by sub-section; all the students’ questions and activities plus answers and guidance on how to approach the material.
- A collection of documents with explanations about two conscientious objectors from the First World War.
- The full and simplified versions of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- A play script of a Tribunal hearing for use in English and Drama.


National Curriculum links
The Refusing to Kill book and these teaching and learning notes and resources used together are relevant to certain elements at Key Stages 3 and 4 as outlined in the national curriculum in England, Key Stages 3 and 4 framework document, July 2014. The extracts quoted below are not inclusive and it may be that the Refusing to Kill book and the accompanying materials on the PPU web site could be appropriately used to provide context to facilitate teaching and learning in other Programmes of Study such as Art and design, Geography and Music.

2.5 All schools should make provision for personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), drawing on good practice. Schools are also free to include other subjects or topics of their choice in planning and designing their own programme of education.

6.1 Teachers should develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject
6.2 Pupils should be taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English. They should learn to justify ideas with reasons; ask questions to check understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate; evaluate and build on the ideas of others; and select the appropriate register for effective communication. They should be taught to give well-structured descriptions and explanations and develop their understanding through speculating, hypothesising and exploring ideas. This will enable them to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for writing
6.3 Teachers should develop pupils’ reading and writing in all subjects to support their acquisition of knowledge.
6.4 Pupils’ acquisition and command of vocabulary are key to their learning and progress across the whole curriculum.

Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.

Spoken language
The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum-cognitively, socially and linguistically. Pupils should be taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate…….

Reading and writing
Reading at key stages 3 and 4 should be wide, varied and challenging. Pupils should be expected to read whole books, to read in depth and to read for pleasure and information
They should be taught to write for a variety of purposes and audiences across a range of contexts.

Opportunities for teachers to enhance pupils’ vocabulary will arise naturally from their reading and writing. Teachers should show pupils how to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language.

A high-quality citizenship education helps to provide pupils with knowledge, skills and understanding to prepare them to play a full and active part in society. In particular, citizenship education should foster pupils’ keen awareness and understanding of democracy, government and how laws are made and upheld. Teaching should equip pupils with the skills and knowledge to explore political and social issues critically, to weigh evidence, debate and make reasoned arguments. It should also prepare pupils to take their place in society as responsible citizens, manage their money well and make sound financial decisions.

A high-quality history education will help pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world. It should inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. Teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. History helps pupils to understand the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, as well as their own identity and the challenges of their time.

Pupils should be taught about:
- challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
In addition to studying the Holocaust, this could include:
- the First World War and the Peace Settlement
- a local history for example a depth study linked to one of the British areas of study listed above

Conscientious objector at the Princetown Quarry in Dartmoor.


More about Refusing to Kill - open | close

Conscientious objection and human rights in the first world war
Oliver Haslam and PPU publicaton group
Peace Pledge Union
ISBN 978-0-902680-52-4
PRICE £10.00 | BUY

While millions killed and died at the height of the First World War, sixteen thousand men in Britain stood up for the right to refuse to kill other human beings. They believed there were better ways to deal with disputes than the slaughter of war. Many suffered terrible human rights abuses for their beliefs.

Refusing to Kill follows the story of conscientious objectors through the First WorldWar. From the moment they received call-up papers to the day they were released from prisons, army units and work camps they faced personal dilemmas, violence, humiliation and hardship. But they were admired by many.

Original letters, court-martial statements, diaries, documents and poetry bring their dramatic story of resistance to life. Ideal material for History, Citizenship and English at Key Stages 3 and 4.

Each chapter in Refusing to Kill includes a focus on human rights. These sections make the link between past and present human rights issues, including the right to life, the right to refuse to kill, the right to a fair trial and the human rights of prisoners.

A free Activity CD (Key Stages 3 and 4) is available for teachers and students. In addition to Questions & Activities based on Refusing to Kill, the CD includes Teachers’ Notes, National Curriculum links, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (full and simple version), a play script of a Tribunal hearing for use in English and Drama, plus copies of original documents from the First World War.

History:Explore the dramatic and determined resistance to the First World War in Britain: an ideal World Study after 1900.

Citizenship:Human rights and responsibilities, the importance of resolving conflict fairly, the criminal justice system, and the work of voluntary groups are all key features in Refusing to Kill.

English:Group discussion, drama, poetry, creative writing and communication on this fascinating and controversial topic make it ideal for a wide range of English studies.

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- Conscientious Objection in World War One
- Other teaching/study resources
- Tribunal Transcript
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Original version | Simplified version












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PEACE PLEDGE UNION 1 Peace passage London N7 0BT