I believe that if we introduce the language and skills of Mediation and resolving conflicts to teenagers, we help build strong individuals with a healthy self-esteem and it prepares them to navigate the adult world they are about to step in. I do a lot of workshops for teenagers and adults. The aim is to introduce the language of mediation, resolving conflicts, teamwork, reaching out to each other etc.
This time, there were 100 students at the workshop at Army Public School, Bangalore where I teach the legal studies elective to class XI and XII students. The almost 18year olds who were spending a night out in the school. (Where were these schools when we were kids???). The number of participants was big so some meticulous planning went into making the workshop seamless for the participants.
I especially like this age group because they are sharp, perceptive and quick to resolve conflicts and move on. And they do have a huge bunch of issues to deal with, both at home and as well as with peers, as they take baby steps into the adult world.
Some of the challenges, conflicts, and issues they listed out were:
– Sports or studies (Maximum)
– Coloring the hair olive?
– Should I tell her I love her??
– Do I tell my mother about the anxieties I have?
– Do I forget the past and move on?
Improsivisional theater is an integral part of my workshop and the students went on to put up their acts in 3-minute plays, planned in 7 minutes with a group of 20 students each. And they put up a great show.
Some became chairs, some doors, and some others went on to be parents, coaches, and teachers. They all had a great storyline and some excellent acting skills.
What I really liked was that all the skits they put up had a profound message.
My takeaway was that we, adults, are quick to lecture the teenagers but when we get an opportunity like this or plain listen to them often. They appear to be ignoring or not listening to us but they actually are. At this age, they command respect rather than reprimanding. And when they have an adult who gives them that space they are willing to do anything.
One feedback that stands out is this.
“We have never focussed on solutions but always dissected the problems. Today we learned teamwork, and that we need to help each other, and never feel that we are alone.”