Action teaching refers to a style of instruction that educates students, leads to a better understanding of human behavior, and contributes to a more just, compassionate, and peaceful world. Scott conceives of “action teaching” as the pedagogical counterpart to “action research,” a term coined by social psychologist Kurt Lewin to describe research aimed at solving social problems. A hallmark of action teaching is that is simultaneously benefits both individual students and society.
For example, a peace educator who practices action teaching might follow a course unit on mediation techniques by inviting students to mediate actual conflicts between friends, family members, or co-workers, thereby reducing existing conflicts even while students learn about conflict resolution. Likewise, an instructor teaching about negotiation might challenge students to analyze an unresolved conflict that they or others are having, devise an integrative solution to break the impasse, and make an effort to implement the proposed solution. Or an instructor teaching about persuasion and marketing strategies might ask students to develop a social marketing campaign that reduces interpersonal violence on campus, protects the local environment, promotes human rights abroad, or serves the greater good in some other way.