The students analyse the written/unwritten rules at their school and make them visible. In a role-play different groups have to decide which rules can be accepted by them and which ought to be eliminated or changed.
- to reflect on existing rules (written/unwritten) and conflicts at school
- to train the ability for listening to each other
- to stimulate creative thinking for solving conflicts
- to develop reflection skills about the own personal behaviour
- to reflect on the question if a group of students can solve their conflict without the help of adults or school authorities
- Put the tables aside and the chairs in a circle.
- Prepare a flipchart with real/unreal rules (see below).
Step by step description
1. Introduce the topic with the following quote from Mahatma Gandhi:
“Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding.”
Then discuss with the students some of the following questions:
- How would you define “conflict”?
- Are we always able to solve conflicts in a peaceful way?
- Is there any difference between conflicts in society and in schools?
- What is “conflict resolution”?
- Who has the most important role in conflict resolution?
- What role do you think you have: rebel or peacemaker? Are you more frequently victim or victimizer ?
2. Present on a flipchart some real/unreal rules, e.g.:
- Don’t enter our territory!
- Your food – definitely my food!
- Don’t talk without permission!
- Carry our books/backpacks!
- If we’re in – you’re out!
- Make a fool out of yourself for our entertainment!
- Do/copy the homework for us!
- If we messed something up – it’s your fault!
3. Role-play: Assign the following 10 characters to the students:
- the negotiator-senior
- the negotiator-junior
- the aggressive senior
- the frightened junior
- the open-minded senior
- the gossipy junior girl
- the trouble-seeker senior
- the two-faced/ double-dealer junior
- the teacher’s pet junior
- the stubborn senior
In the following discussion (allow about 15 minutes for it) the students representing a role have to decide which rules can be accepted by both groups (junior and senior students) and which ought to be eliminated or changed. The remaining students are asked to observe the discussion and take notes on the process.
4. Ask the players to step out of their role and invite the observers to share their impressions. Together draw some conclusions.
Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing
- How did you like the activity?
- Can you think of an ongoing conflict about a rule at our school?
- Were you able to listen to each other and communicate peacefully?
- Do you think students can solve their conflicts without the help of adults?
- What have you learned from this activity?
Suggestions for adaptations and variations
- Adapt the rules (step 2) to those that are known at your school. Don’t forget to add some unreal ones.
- Start the activity with a brainstorming in order to collect the school rules that are known to your students.
- In case of an ongoing conflict the method could be a starting point to do some further work on solving the conflict.
- Work with mixed groups (students from junior and senior classes).
Reference / original source of the method
This activity was facilitated by Franczia Reka Timea during her workshop "Revolution or Resolution" at the aces Academy 2010 in Senec, Slovak Republic.
Further tips and resources
Conflict Resolution Activities (5-10 minutes):