One of the fundamental life skills needed is the skill to deal with conflicts. Who is teaching this skill today to our young ones? Young kids in school, when faced with conflicts or difficult situations tend to react in a certain way – they either argue fiercely, get physically violent or tend to clamp up or even run away from the scene. Very few learn the skill of dealing with conflict or to transform the situation to their advantage. Basically they are reacting to what they have learnt from their immediate environment – parents, teachers, media, peers etc.
The education system does not focus on life skills at all.
The backlog of court cases we see is also a result of how we are not taught to resolve conflicts at a young age.
As we grow up, we tend to rely on the fabric of family and friends when we have disagreements and fights. Today, this fabric is breaking down and we are hardly left with immediate family members or friends to fall back upon. So, we eventually end up with lawyers and court cases. I have seen several relationships which could have probably been nurtured through thick and thin, ending up in courts. Most often the cases could have been simply sorted by talking it out.
Forget cases, even the simple skill of negotiating a tough conversation is something would come in handy as the high school students of today will step into a larger world of college and work and will eventually face conflicts. The process of recognizing a conflict, dealing with, mediating in conflicts, resolving them are essential life skills that every student must learn.
In the Mediation Course that I facilitate for Students, I teach the participants the collaborative methods and skilful use of language that form the fundamentals of Conflict Resolution Techniques. External conflicts are resolved easily when there are no internal conflicts – I help the participants address their own interpersonal issues too. This is best done in a class room setting in a group in a light hearted manner so that the participants imbibe these skills easily.
Once the students learn that they can deal with conflicts and have the knowledge that they can resolve them – they become more confident towards life. The program also builds a strong sense of empathy towards others, so that the students can reach out to others, and make themselves available for peace building.
I am now working with schools to set up Mediation Centers within schools with trained mediators (these include trained faculty members and students) which serves as center point for students to resolve their conflicts. This is a space created by the school administration with oversight of trained faculty members where students can feel safe, secure and confident to discuss the problems they face.