Waging Peace in Our Schools
Drawing upon recent research and the authors' extensive field experience, this article describes a program which recognizes that the ability to manage emotions, resolve conflict, and interrupt biases are fundamental skills that can and must be taught. It further asserts that schools can play a critical role in stemming youth violence; however, a new vision of education is needed if the nation is to create safe, caring communities of learning for children. Toward these ends, a plan is offered for the successful implementation of the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP), a comprehensive, nationally disseminated and evaluated school-based model.RCCP is not an "add-on" nor a consultant-driven intervention. Its "peaceable schools" model, developed over many years of experience in classrooms and communities, demands a long-term commitment. This model includes the following five components:
- A K-12 Classroom Curriculum that focuses on the teaching of the following key skills: active listening, assertiveness (as opposed to aggressiveness or passivity), the expression of feeling in appropriate ways, empathy, perspective-taking, cooperation, negotiation, an appreciation of diversity, and bias-countering skills...
- Professional Training and Ongoing Support for Teachers
- A Student-led Mediation Program: This component provides a strong peer model for nonviolent conflict resolution and the appreciation of diversity
- Parent Training: ...consists of a series of four, three-hour "Peace in the Family" workshops. In these workshops, parents are led to stop and think about how they act as parents, aboutwhat works, and about what they would like to do differently
- Administrator Training: This component introduces RCCP concepts to school administrators.
An early independent evaluation of the RCCP model at its New York City site found that more than 87% of the teachers believed the program was having a positive impact on their students (Metis Associates, Inc., 1990). Teachers and administrators reported the following changes: less violence in the classroom, children's spontaneous use of RCCP conflict resolution skills, increased self-esteem and sense of empowerment among students, increased awareness of feelings and verbalizing of those feelings by children, and evidence of more caring behavior and more acceptance of differences among them.