Sunday, October 27, 2013

Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking

          During an individual’s lifespan, several conflicts may occur. A conflict is an individual’s perceived incompatibility of goals or actions (Myers, 2010). If individuals follow certain steps to resolve conflicts through conflict resolution, which are the processes and methods involved that enable individuals to facilitate peaceful endings to conflict or peacemaking. When faced with conflicts, peace is the best solution, which is a condition, labeled by low levels of aggression, and low levels of hostility, and labeled by relationships, which are mutually beneficial (Myers, 2010). However, often individuals are not able to resolve conflicts with low levels of aggression or hostility because individuals are not taught as children in school the processes of conflict resolution and peacemaking. One 1st-grade teacher in Redlands, California, at Redlands Adventist Academy is trying to change this.  
Tiffany J. Hunter
          This 1st-grade teacher is Tiffany J. Hunter, who is an M.A. graduate. Hunter wanted to create an environment of learning, which fosters values, such as active peacemaking, social justice, service, and inclusive compassion (Hunter, 2008). Hunter also wanted to address her students' physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional needs in holistic ways, whereas she created a stimulating and safe space where her students could freely explore and grow. The intention for her students was to practice and learn necessary skills, which enable them to live at peace with him or herself, his or her community, and his or her environment. In addition to Hunter’s student’s academic achievements, she needed her students to think they were valuable to his or her communities, church, and school (Hunter, 2008).
Classroom Design
          Hunter’s first step in her pursuit of teaching her children the processes of conflict resolution and peacemaking was to create a "peaceable classroom,” designed around a structure conducive to the peacebuilding of her student’s interaction. The peace corner was a critical aspect of her design, which was an area with a peace table and chairs. The peace corner possesses books and tools, which engage her students to learn key concepts of peace emphasizing varying curricular activities (Hunter, 2008).  Hunter also placed student work and posters on a bulletin board in this area to remind her students of the values that they were in the process of learning. The peace table was the area where her students discuss and solve their conflict. The peace table was a constant reminder of the classroom’s commitment to nonviolence in every form.
          The process of conflict-resolution only occurred with or without the assistance of a mediator. Hunter would often visit the peace table to assist her students in creating win-win solutions. Hunter (2008), “I designed my curriculum around four major skill sets: Empathy Training, Diversity Training, Community Awareness, and Conflict Resolution” (p. 1). For Hunter’s students it was not necessary to master one skill set as a prerequisite to progress to the next skill set. Students had to model and integrate every skill set into his or her classroom experiences and academic subject areas. The incorporation of every skill set into a standards-based curriculum unit is necessary (Hunter, 2008).
Empathy Training
            Hunter included empathy skills in the first unit of social studies whereas classroom cooperation was the focus. To possess empathy is to perceive another individual’s feelings and thoughts. Expression of emotions occurs through nonverbal and verbal cues; therefore Hunter thought her students should learn to identify his or her emotions to develop empathy for the emotions of other individuals. She used several activities to reinforce this skill.
Diversity Training
          Hunter believed that diversity training taught her students to promote greater social justice and equality required one to take concrete social action. Hunter (2008), “diversity training goes beyond standard multicultural education, as it encompasses all aspects of human diversity - from gender, race, economic class, and ethnic background to physical, intellectual, and emotional characteristics to thoughts and feelings” (p. 1). Hunter also thought that diversity training is consciousness-raising and experiences with other individuals who have diverse mental and physical abilities were another important component, therefore her students could interact with individuals across a wide spectrum of ability.  
Community Awareness
          The skill set of community awareness, details activities that empowered her students to become responsible and active members of his or her community (Hunter, 2008). Community awareness encompasses civic and environmental education. Hunter thought that her students could gain insight into his or her power and value as they contributed to the classroom, global, and local communities. Hunter started with concrete references of her student’s family and classroom community identities to develop an understanding of communities and to develop an understanding of individual responsibilities and rights; she branched out to encompass a global and local context (Hunter, 2008).
Conflict Resolution
            Hunter thought that conflict resolution develops her student’s autonomy as far as personal conflict management goes. She thought she could serves as the mediator, by guiding her students through the conflict resolution process until her students learned and discovered the ability to use his or her nonviolent approaches toward problem-solving (Hunter, 2008). At a classroom peace table this process normally occurs. To equip her students with the necessary skills he or she can use in every aspect of his or her life is the goal. When students learn skills for mediation, negotiation, and compromise it helps them find a peaceful solution to his or her problem.
            Tiffany J. Hunter thought that designing a curriculum around skill sets, such as empathy and diversity training, community awareness, and conflict resolution and teaching it to her students would ensure that children develop into empathic, compassionate, and understanding of other adults in society. In the presence of conflicts, peace is the better solution. As Hunter’s students develop into adults they can better handle conflict resolution and peacemaking because of her teachings.
Myers, D. G. (2010). Social psychology (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Hunter, T. J. (2008). Creating a culture of peace in the elementary classroom. The Education Digest, 74(1), 54-58. Retrieved from

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