Rotary Global Grant Blog July 2018

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

July has been another exciting and full month!

A lot of my time this month has been devoted to dissertation revisions. I recently completed a full draft of my dissertation (minus the concluding chapter) and received feedback from my advisors on the three chapters that are most significant to my argument. I remember reading about the PhD process early on that you may think that getting a full first draft together is the hardest part, but the revision process can actually be even harder and more time consuming. I was skeptical when I read that, but it has certainly proven to be true in my case! My advisor, Chris, tells me to think writing like an oil painting, layer by layer, very slowly. I am encouraged by how I can see the work improving as I go, but it is certainly not an easy phase of the process!

A highlight of this month was a visit from David Karp to Victoria University of Wellington. He came to participate in a round table event hosted by the Chair of Restorative justice on the Restorative University concept. He also delivered a public lecture on Restorative Justice in the Time of #MeToo. David is a leader in the US in the implementation of restorative practices on university campuses and the use of restorative justice to respond to sexual harm. Both events and the chance to talk with David were outstanding!

This month I continued delivering Restorative Justice workshops for FGC Coordinators in Rotorua, Palmerston North and Christchurch. It has been a real privilege to get to work this inspiring group of people!

Haley and I also delivered a day-long Restorative Practices workshop for an early childhood center, Nga Tamariki. We facilitated skills-building exercises and facilitated conversations about the application of restorative approaches to community building and responding to conflict and misbehavior both with children and within the staff group. It was a great day!

You can check out the most recent edition of the Rotary Peacebuilder Newsletter on the topic of Peacebuilding and the Rotary Four-Way Test here. My piece highlights the alignment between restorative approaches to justice and the wisdom of the Four-Way Test.

If you are interested in reading previous issues of the Rotary Peace Building Newsletter, they are all available online here.

Advertisements

Restorative Practices Can Teach Students How to Handle Difficult Conversations

I recently had a conversation with a few friends about the advice we had received growing up from adults (mostly parents and teachers) when another kid picked on us. The wisdom and guidance we had received varied widely and included among others, “hit him back,” “ignore him” “she is just jealous,” “laugh it off,” “tell the teacher,” and “he must have a crush on you.”

Adults often end up intervening in conflict between children, which is certainly sometimes necessary, but there is also great value in providing kids and teenagers with the necessary tools and confidence to have these difficult conversations themselves.

A 2016 article from Psychology Today highlights some of the benefits of implementing restorative practices in schools. The first benefit listed is that restorative practices give students the tools they need to resolve conflict themselves. This quote from a student at a school in Virginia (you can read the full report here) illustrates the empowering impact of this method.

“Me and my friend were playing around in class and we actually solved [a conflict using] the Circle. It was fun but it was serious too and we did it all by ourselves. Cause my friend that used to be in the facilitator circle training, me and her we was just playing at first but my other friend, the girl I’ll call my friend and the girl I’ll call my sister, they was arguing about something or whatever. So me and X said, ‘let’s have a circle.’ and then we was playing – we was playing though, and then it actually solved their problem. Now they talk. So we actually did a Circle, all by ourselves.” -12th grade female

In addition to teaching students how to facilitate a circle process, the foundational restorative questions alone also provide young people (and adults!) with a framework through which to view and ultimately discuss conflict. Rather than ignoring a behavior, telling someone to stop because they are breaking a rule, or punishing them (either yourself or through an authority), a restoratively framed conversation focuses on the impacts of that is happening and what is needed to make things right. The three central questions are:

  1. What happened?
  2. Who was affected and how?
  3. What is needed to repair the harm and make things right?

School is a place for academic learning, but it is also a place for learning how to be with other people and to resolve conflict in a healthy way when it arises. Taking the time to teach students the tools of restorative practices can have a huge impact on their life in school and beyond.

New Zealand has done an impressive job of implementing restorative practices in schools. Many of the Ministry of Education resources are available online and can be found here.

Rotary Global Grant Blog June 2018

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

June was a very exciting month for me! Earlier this year, my proposal to present my PhD research at the European Forum for Restorative Justice Conference was accepted and I received funding from my university to attend. Once I knew I was going, I submitted another proposal to deliver a workshop on Teaching Restorative Practices through Games, which was accepted as well. It was wonderful to get to share my research and training techniques with a European audience and to meet people from around Europe and the world doing such incredible work. You can check out a detailed conference program here. I will be sharing a few reflections from the conference in blog posts. The first of these reflections is about collective trauma. I felt incredibly fortunately to have the opportunity to attend and to learn more about what is happening in the European context!

This month, I also designed and delivered a restorative justice training for Family Group Conference Coordinators at Oranga Tamariki. You can see a beautiful visual note taking piece that was produced during this training in the photos above. Family Group Conferences are widely considered one of New Zealand’s greatest Restorative Justice achievements, but when a process is so thoroughly engrained in the standard justice system, it can easily lose its restorative focus at times. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to provide a reminder of important restorative principles and practices and to engage in conversation with so many inspiring practitioners. I am looking forward to three more of these sessions coming up in July.

I contributed several pieces for the most recent Restorative Well, the NACRJ newsletter, which you can read here.

I also contributed a piece on the Restorative Paradigm Shift for the most recent Rotary Peacebuilder newsletter, which you can read here.

Finally, last Friday, Wellington kicked off Matariki, the Maori New Year with a big celebration on the waterfront. The centerpiece of the celebration was seven floating fires in the shape of the constellation Pleiades. My partner, Sam, proposed the idea of the floating fires and was responsible for making it happen. The fires came together beautifully (see photo above) and it was a lovely mid-winter event!