Since 2004, I have campaigned to incorporate conflict resolution and nonviolent conflict skills in schools. I would like to say that it has been easy, but in reality, promoting these ideas in schools has met resistance from school administrators, teachers, and students. Why have these ideas met such resistance in schools? My theory is that peace educators have gone about promoting these concepts by using uninteresting, outdated, and abstract methods. My new approach in promoting nonviolent conflict skills is to use methods that are fun, interesting, practical, and experiential.
Practical Methods for Teaching Nonviolent Conflict Skills:
1. Mainstreaming-this is the idea that nonviolent conflict skills are not just for major conflicts used by specially trained individuals. However, these skills should be taught in students’ everyday lives as a method to prevent violence and promote conflict transformation.
2. Experiential Learning-non violent conflict skills should be taught in a way that students can reflect on their experiences and translate those experiences into simple but effective actions.
3. Teach intercultural dialogue-miscommunication and bias is a source for many conflicts in schools. Teaching students simple, respectful conversations can reduce conflicts in the classroom, when working in groups, on the bus, and in the community can reduce conflicts.
4. Volunteering-when students volunteer they not only give to others, but they receive valuable knowledge, meet new friends, have fun, and breakdown cultural barriers.
5. Incorporate conflict coaching skills-teaching these skills can empower students and staff to deal with situations like bullying, bias, misunderstandings, harassment, and other conflict behaviors.
6. Make learning nonviolent conflict skills fun-use catchy slogans, fables, modules, simulations, and out of the box activities with students to get them interested in learning nonviolent conflict skills. One site that has great ideas is the Peace is Sexy website. This website offers fun ideas to promote nonviolent conflict skills and mediation to students and staff members.
|Purchase a Peace is Sexy t-shirt
Here are some other great ideas to promote peace and get students to thinking more on a community level:
Make Valentine Sexy-Valentine Peace Project
We tend to think about chocolates, flowers, and stones as symbols of Valentine’s Day. However, some products have some pretty unsexy results: slave labor, exploitation, and war. Get students thinking about how the products they buy may contribute to conflict around the world and how they can make a difference by choosing socially conscious products.
|Blood Diamond Poster
|Valentine Peace Project-check out this project as a new way to think about promoting peace and rethinking how we contribute to conflict in the world through our purchases.
Peace Superheroes Series-show students that they can be a superhero by helping others.
Peace Bag is a toolkit developed by partnerships in Europe and Africa that feature tools, activities, case studies, key concepts, and practical activities to help youth workers incorporate nonviolent conflict skills in their everyday lives.
Activities from Peace Bag:
A Moment in My Shoes–show students how it feels to be a child slave.
Do you want slavery with that?-understanding of human rights and our “I want that now” attitude.
More Than a Label–expose how our bias impacts our school and how we treat others.
A Seat at the Table-simulations that helps students explore and compare how other cultures would react in similar situations.
Service learning lesson plans for changing the school community
Generation On-service learning projects in schools and communities.
ADL Antibias Study Guide for Secondary Skills-project based curriculum for teaching anti-bias education.
Teaching Tolerance Activities-The Southern Poverty Law creates free activities for schools from grades K-12 to teach non-bias.