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Elements of Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking in Social Psychology
Conflict and Resolution
A variety of subjects may be used to teach conflict resolution skills to students. In studying about the fundamentals of conflict resolution students gain the valuable knowledge and learn about effective communication, problem-solving, and respect for differing opinions. Learning these skills enables students to better navigate conflict in social situations. It also serves to improve the students self concept. Central to learning conflict resolution skills is the need to actively practice the skills which are being learned.
What Can Be Taught in Conflict Resolution?
Conflict resolution and peacemaking is a subject which according to Bickmore (2008) can be taught from within the context of all other school subjects. Central to the purpose of conflict resolution is the need for communication. Bickmore (2008) states that since communication is so fundamental to conflict resolution courses which teach language and literature may be ideal settings to include development of conflict resolution skills. In any course setting several concepts may be addressed. Bickmore (2008) states that one of the basic concepts which can be included as part of any course is developing an understanding of what conflict is and what possible consequences may be the result of conflict. It is also possible to teach skills which help to build and sustain healthy relationships both with people who are similar and those who are not similar Bickmore (2008).
Where Should Conflict Resolution Be Taught?
Conflict resolution need not dwell solely in the classroom but may also be learned across the spectrum of other student activities such as student government and competitive events Bickmore (2008). By introducing conflict resolution into other areas of study the student is given a more rounded understanding of how to deal with a variety of situations. According to Bickmore (2008) “students may learn about conflict resolution by serving on a student government committee, about power and problem-solving by contributing to a service project, or about peacemaking by serving as peer facilitators or conflict mediators” (para. 4).
Programs which focus on teaching conflict management skills have rapidly spread as a response the need to address the issue of school violence Bickmore (2008). These programs have shown significant results in participants behaviors “especially [with] the students selected to be conflict mediators” Bickmore (2008). These results suggest that placing someone in a position of authority and responsibility may alter their self perceptions. Changes in a person's self perceptions leads to changes in behavior. Bickmore (2008) states that “the evidence indicates that intensive instruction and practice in conflict resolution processes can have profoundly positive effects on those who participate directly and for significant periods of time” (para. 8).
Learning Behavior Through Taking Action
Practice and direct participation are important elements in teaching conflict resolution. It is not enough simply to teach the basic ideas. It is necessary for the students to actively use the concepts they are leaning. Bickmore (2008) stresses the importance that students need to “see themselves as potential actors, not pawns, in peacemaking or handling school community problems” (para. 10). Actively using conflict management skills how the students self perceptions begin to change. In actively resolving a conflict they see it as something that they have done themselves instead of something which a third party involved them in doing. The student grows in his or hers awareness of their abilities and with each success is made more likely to continue using those abilities.
An Active Role is the Best Way to Learn
The goal of any good program in conflict resolution is to inspire students to think for themselves and to reach solutions on their own without the need to blindly follow another person's instructions Bickmore (2008). This means that students need to learn how to solve problems on their own without the need for someone else to hold their hand and walk them through the process. Placing the student in a role of responsibility forces him or her to practice the skills needed to resolve issues. Structuring the conflict resolution program around other subject allows students to see problem-solving applications within various contexts and gives them a greater understanding of how to use problem-solving strategies in different fields. Focusing on building communication skills enables students to learn about and understand differing opinions and other ways of thinking. Open communication fosters an appreciation for other cultures, backgrounds and ideas which are different from our own.
Bickmore, K.. (2008). TEACHING CONFLICT RESOLUTION ACROSS THECURRICULUM. Orbit, 37(2/3), 98-102. Retrieved December 5, 2010, from CBCAComplete. (Document ID: 1537442641).
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