'Cool Schools' and Student Peer Mediation - Facilitating Conflict Resolution

Interviewed by

Tim Lynch

'Cool Schools' and Student Peer Mediation - Facilitating Conflict Resolution

Christina Barruel, New Zealand Cool Schools National Manager Trainer, Donna Hourigan-Johnston of Mt Roskill Grammar (a peer mediation coordinator) and Del McFarlane-Scott of Ranui Primary (Cool School peer mediation program co ordinator).

In the early 1990s, Yvonne Duncan in association with the NZ Peace Foundation embarked on a innovative World First, to introduce to every school in NZ a skills based method to teach children how to resolve conflict and reconcile differing points of view, be it in the class room, or playground.

With this unique system been introduced to over 2,000 schools throughout the country since its inception, this could be a global game changer, albeit over a number of generations. Building upon relationships towards a Win Win World.

Could New Zealand become a 'world leader' in conflict resolution and have hundreds if not thousands of trained emissaries skilled in the art of peaceful resolution of conflicts? These professional peacemakers would get invited to live alongside other peoples, within their cultures, and model in novel, innovative ways, goodwill and peaceful processes in action.

What has come out of this unique program is:

Students are the agents of change if you give them responsibility - their innate genius and creativity comes up with new ideas, (reflected from up to 70 different cultures that can be present in many of NZ's urban schools) as well students voluntarily taking on the mantle as ambassadors of social justice, being positive role models and standing up against bullying and harassment.

Some schools have a very high percentage of students who are trained as peer mediators and they are everywhere within the school grounds. Within these schools this has become a very popular 'service' and with a lot of mana attached to it. At Mt Roskill Grammar, around 250 students apply every year to be trained as it empowers them with a large array of life skills to assist them in negotiating existence, which in the eyes of the trainers is a brilliant service to offer any human being.

Virtually all young people, have at heart the ideal of hope, that things will eventually change and that keeping hope alive will ultimately evolve positive change - plus the sense of belonging (team spirit) for the common vision, inspires us all to involve ourselves. This knowledge empowers students to take responsibility to make schools a safer, and more peaceful place - where social justice becomes part of the every day atmosphere resulting in good local and global citizens too.

A 5 year old can even learn these skills and take them back to their family and whanau and show the larger family what they have learned at school and how to use these skills in a family setting - about listening and understanding and respecting each other.

Data in schools that have 'this program' is clearly showing that bullying falls away in the play ground. This is important, and there is a need for a champion like the Prime Minister and Parliament to get in and language the benefits of Cool Schools across NZ as often as possible so as to evolve our country into being more 'conscious' as an 'aware society.'

If many of those who are in prison had learnt these skills at school to resolve conflict, they would never have gone before the courts to end up in jail.

Imagine being taught these skills 50 years or more ago, how many more boy friends and grill friends one would have, plus far less divorces and the emotional upset, and financial stress. Think about it ...

This program also keeps students in school, as school become a safe place to be. Students can utilize their skills of being a mediator in a holistic framework to negotiate agreements on a daily basis, wherever they are, which assists them to grow and learn. Resulting in the preparation of a citizen for the world. Someone who can also cope with change in a fast changing globalized reality. It's prepping children for the future.

And the gift of teaching conflict resolution is that when the teachers of the Cools Schools program meet their students many years later in the outer world the students inevitably come up to them and thank them dearly, for teaching them these skills, as it has helped them across the board to resolve so many challenges that have come their way, like studies, job, family, relationships etc. A major Win / Win, for both teacher and student and all other 3rd parties.

I urge you to listen to this radio show as it will give your heart a chance to catch up on itself. You can feel the excitement of this studio gathering that it is actually palatable where the vibe carries forward such an optimistic view of how things can be.

peace, respect in diversity, paying it forward, goodwill in action, random acts of kindness, planting seeds, developing empathy, building self esteem, warm hearted citizens, character building, community

www.peace.net.nz

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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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