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Jul 31

Being Pragmatic About Conflict Resolution

Posted by Pamela Jones in Fair Is Not Equal on Jul 31, 2012


No doubt you have heard, or even said, "Let's be pragmatic about this!" But what does this really mean, especially in the classroom? If you ask yourself questions like, "Isn't education supposed to help us help our students find solutions to problems" or "What are the possible academic, social, and emotional consequences of my implementation of this piece of curriculum,” you are, most likely, an educational pragmatist like our friend John Dewey (so you’re in good company!).

What does it mean when we’re talking about behavioral intervention and support? A pragmatic teacher would most likely be proactive about teaching her students conflict prevention and resolution skills because she would be concerned with the consequences of not doing so. The pragmatic teacher asks herself, “If education is supposed to help my students solve problems, then shouldn’t I enact curricula that equips my kids with the tools necessary to prevent and/or mediate conflicts?”

In a real-life classroom, this could take a number of forms.  For students in early childhood and elementary settings, it might mean teaching kids an approach called the “Turtle Technique,” which helps them deal with and process feelings of disappointment and anger in a constructive way as opposed to reacting impulsively and destructively. For upper elementary and middle school students, it could mean introducing kids to “conflicts in slow motion,” which is designed to help students see their actions (& accompanying emotions) as they happened.

Being proactive about conflict resolution instruction supports our students' behavioral and emotional growth because it helps them develop a cadre of skills that will help them prevent and sort out problematic situations. Whichever approach you take, the pragmatic educator seizes upon the opportunity to use her students’ actual life experiences to inform their day-to-day learning in school.

Does this mini-discussion of pragmatism resonate with you? Do you approach your behavioral intervention pragmatically? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

tagged conflict resolution, pragmatic, pragmatism
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