Schools: The Playground for Learning Mediation
BY MAHMOUD ARIF AND CONSTANTIN-ADI GAVRILĂ
Cultivating dialogue and conflict resolution skills in schools empowers students to build better relationships and address differences constructively. This article by Mahmoud Arif and Constantin-Adi Gavrilă on the Kluwer Mediation Blog explores the significant role of schools in creating a more inclusive and peaceful society.
Picture any school in any community in the world, and you are sure to imagine a group of children learning and playing. Whenever there is interaction, there will always be room for conflict. How do children manage conflict? This question is difficult to answer, as the presence of adults in an environment such as a school means a great deal of influence or, better said, interference that shapes the children’s approach to conflict and the resolution of issues. Regardless of cultural or situational variations, the consistent aspect is that children in any setting have the chance to build essential knowledge and skills for real-world problem-solving through various conflict resolution methods. In today’s increasingly diverse and interconnected world, fostering open dialogue and promoting conflict resolution skills are vital, and schools play a crucial role in shaping future generations By creating a culture of resolving conflict through meaningful dialogue, with and without the involvement of mediation, educational institutions can empower students to address differences, cultivate empathy, and build harmonious relationships. This blog post explores schools’ significant role in fostering dialogue and highlights the benefits of creating a culture that embraces mediation through listening and promoting fairness and justice.
What is dialogue without listening?
Effective communication forms the foundation of mediation. It allows us to engage in difficult conversations, go beyond our assumptions and biases, speak without enabling the defensive mechanisms of the listeners and listen in a way that allows us to be influenced by what we hear. Schools that prioritize and encourage open dialogue among students, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders often cultivate the benefits of mature emotional regulation and healthy relationships. It creates an environment where conflict is approached openly and constructively, and early warning mechanisms are in place to prevent conflict from spiraling out. Creating safe and inclusive spaces where students feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, concerns, and perspectives is essential to achieve this. By establishing platforms for dialogue, such as open forums, classroom discussions, conflict-resolution training, or dedicated mediation sessions, schools can promote healthy expression of opinions, thereby reducing the likelihood of conflicts escalating. Emphasizing active listening and respect for diverse viewpoints fosters empathy, understanding, and critical thinking, allowing students to engage constructively in conflict resolution. From our experience, this is best done proactively by offering training before the conflict arises.