Conflict resolution training in the classroom

Posted in: News, Nonviolence, Peacebuilding, Resources
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Diana Wege has been passionate about the need to incorporate conflict resolution training into the classroom.  Before founding WOVEN (We Oppose Violence Everywhere Now) she established CrUSAde (Conflict Resolution for Educators in the United States of America), a foundation that focused on anti-bullying programs.  Diana’s work was the focus of an article that appeared in the New York Times (May 27, 2001) entitled: “Schools Offer a Lesson Plan on Bullies.”

“Diana Wege, who founded CrUSAde and offers grants for schools to institute anti-bullying and conflict resolution programs, said she believed that social skills need to be taught at an early age to enable children to resolve conflicts without violence. She also said teachers need training to intervene effectively. ‘Bullying is so entrenched, teachers aren’t helping the situation if they’re not trained,’ she said.”

One of the leaders in the field of conflict resolution training was Morton Deutsch.  When CrUSAde was founded the director attended a conflict resolution seminar at Columbia University to understand how theory could be put into practice in schools.  The Handbook of Conflict Resolution, Theory and Practice, a compendium edited by Morton Deutsch and Peter T. Coleman (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2000) is a series of essays related to a myriad of topics related to conflict including: personality differences, creativity and change and difficult conflicts, for example.

Is the world becoming more or less violent? The psychologist Steven Pinker, Harvard University in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Penguin Random House, 2011) that the emergence of institutions like nation-states with strong central governments, trade networks, and wide-ranging communication increased interdependence and reduced deaths due to violence.

Notwithstanding, with social media and a twenty-four-hour news cycle, often driven by individuals and acts of violence that go viral, we sense the world is more violent.

Which circles back to the importance of training conflict resolution skills to children.  If young boys and girls were steeped in how to handle difficult conversations when they are young, perhaps they would recognize how to get out from under the rapist or sexual harassment. If teachers recognized a child’s alienation and suggested treatment perhaps acts of violence later on would be reduced.

Conflict can be resolved peacefully if children understand and learn how to resolve conflict when they are young.  Conflict resolution training, if integrated into the classroom, can make a role in creating a more peaceful world.

Here are a number of our resource partners who have much to add to this topic:

Creative Response to Conflict (CRC)
Center for Peace
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