In their daily lives, students come across many situations involving conflict. This happens not only at school, but in all other areas of their lives as well. For this reason it’s essential that children and teens learn to solve conflicts peacefully and in ways that are fair to all sides. The national curriculum for middle school (junior high) and high school in Finland requires allowing students to practise critical thinking, negotiating and discussion skills and conflict resolution.
The simulations included here for developing students’ negotiating skills emphasize the importance of cooperation, innovation, open-mindedness and the avoidance of prejudice, and equality and inclusiveness. The simulations require students to respect the concerns of all sides in a conflict. They learn to bring together various, often competing views. In general, the simulations help students to think critically and develop the ability to think on their feet when faced with any sort of conflict. They learn to respond to difficult situations peacefully, confidently, and constructively.
The exercises can be downloaded in PDF format from the links below.
1. The orange exercise
Perhaps the most important of all peacemaking skills is creativity – which this exercise is all about! This means looking at problems in new, often surprising ways and coming up with new, often surprising solutions.
2. Just listen!
In solving conflicts everyone needs to be heard. For that to be possible, others must be able to listen. This is not always as easy as you might think. With practice, every person can learn to become a better listener.
3. Conflict resolution with a mediator
In this role play, one student gets to act as a mediator and the whole class must come up with ways to solve conflicts through discussion.
A short exercise that highlights the very common tendency to treat other people as opponents rather than as partners in dialogue.
5. Just four words
An excellent conflict-solving exercise for finding a shared outlook on any topic.
6. Feelings, needs and empathy in conflict-solving
In this exercise, students work in pairs to practice non-violent discussion. The goal is to learn to appreciate the importance of feelings and needs in any conflict.
7. Push or pull
A simple exercise to show that there are always at least two ways of getting others to behave as we’d like them to behave.
8. Pushing pairs
This is a simple but effective exercise that helps students realize how working together can easily lead to conflicts.