We were discussing yesterday how we could get the children to increase their language from, “it made me feel sad”. This may be about taking time just building vocabulary through art or music appreciation. It may be about literature that stretches vocabulary. Perhaps it is also about the children hearing how we feel?
After hearing a presentation on Restorative Practice I had a day trying out some of the techniques. It was powerful to see children taking part in telling “what had happened” and for the offender to be questioned about their behaviour without the associated discipline voice of the teacher. There were two or three opportunities that went well and it was useful to develop alternative ways of “repairing harm” rather than the usual retributive sanctions. I was struck by the need to develop children’s emotional language for questions like, “how did it make you feel?” which often results in the stock answer, “it made me feel sad”. Children also want to put things right by, “being good” or “stop being naughty” – neither of these result in any transforming behaviour.In the afternoon I had a go at a whole class circle time but there was very negative behaviour during the group where three girls made their own non- participating community by sitting out of the circle. There wasn’t a sufficient sense of whole community or community disapproval to shift this power balance.
Thursday 21st February Attended presentation about Restorative Practice in primary education. Very inspiring to hear about an alternative to our current practices which we employ to restrain behaviour but things rarely change. I believe that at times some people just need to be removed for the safety of others. There are other concerns about every child’s capacity to feel the guilt and responsibility of their actions – in short, “do they really care?”Restorative Justice/ Centre for Restorative PracticeInternational Institute of Restorative Practice