How to resolve disciplinary matters by enabling those involved to repair the harm done to people and relationships.
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Readers will gain a basic understanding of restorative justice philosophy and values in a school based context. These understandings can be explicitly taught to students in classroom settings so they benefit from learning about social justice and the importance of ‘making things right’ with their relationships that will potentially be life-long skills.
Learning outcomes include an understanding of the benefits of taking a relational approach when responding to wrongdoing, mistakes and anti-social behaviour in all educational settings. Restorative approaches give victims a voice in problem solving. Retributive approaches focus largely on the student who has done wrong, and the needs of the victim are rarely considered.
Knowledge will be gained about the continuum of practices that bring restorative justice to life in the classroom and playground and the importance of establishing strong and healthy relationships to minimise wrongdoing and inappropriate behaviours.
Readers will read about the basic skills in how to facilitate restorative conversations with individuals and small groups to address harm and interpersonal conflict.
Readers will be encouraged to adopt an attitudinal change; whereby wrongdoing and inappropriate behaviour is viewed as harm towards others and to relationships. This is a move away from a retributive attitude where wrongdoing is viewed as rule breaking and deserving of punishment to prevent the behaviour from happening again. The restorative approach builds empathy and thoughtfulness in ways that retribution cannot, and builds capacity to problem solve as perspective-taking (theory of mind) is also developed. Readers are encouraged to move away from an attitude of ‘classroom rule breaking’ to ‘following values in our classroom’.
While all students will benefit from this approach, it is particularly effective when working with those identified ‘at risk’ or those experiencing relational and behavioural difficulties whether they are those responsible or those harmed.
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