I’m always delighted by the way young people instinctively know when a conversation is authentic.
When I work with young people I have learned that the greatest gift we can give them is to listen very carefully. Once we can get past the immediate disturbance, the young person will have an innate sense of what is going to work because their internal justice system has not been so contaminated by our enforcement society that they have lost their moral compass.
What I do is help them to articulate in a way that serves.
When I was Chair of a Key Stage 4 Pupil Referral Unit, we (the Head Teacher and I) often consulted with our students. Sure, they would stamp their feet and make a lot of noise about unfairness, but once they got used to being consulted and seeing the results, they became calmer in the school because we built trust, something that many of our students had never had a real experience of.
Mostly in our society we don’t listen to young people. When a young person wants to talk to an adult, very few adults stop what they are doing, drop down to the young person’s level of eye contact and listen carefully. Of course, I’m not suggesting that we should do this every time a young person wants to say something but I am saying that we need to create spaces for real dialogue.
We are paying a high price for this neglect. Violence and disruption in classrooms in on the increase. I believe the Dialogue Road Map holds keys to this problem.
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