Black male educators play an important role in inspiring and preparing students to learn about global or local issues and take action against them. Conflict mitigation and peace building provide opportunities for students to practice tolerance and inclusion.
Teachers that encourage dialogue among students and colleagues can support students’ learning about conflict and diversity, helping with inclusion in the classroom.
What Are Conflict Mitigation and Peace Building
Conflict mitigation is the strategies, processes, and actions that address the root causes of conflict and change the way those involved act and perceive issues. Conflict mitigation is not only used to prevent conflict, but intervene both during and after it occurs.
Peace building is the development of constructive personal, group, and political relationships across ethnic, religious, class, national, and racial boundaries. The purpose of peacebuilding is to resolve injustice in healthy and nonviolent ways and transform the structural conditions that generate conflict.
Conflict is often perceived as negative, but it’s a natural part of life. Handled effectively, conflict can provide opportunities for learning and personal growth.
In fact, democratic societies are formed and thrive when individuals, groups, and organizations acknowledge different perspectives and manage disagreements productively with conflict resolution. These same concepts can be applied to the classroom.
Putting Conflict Mitigation and Peace Building into Practice
There’s no one way to approach conflict mitigation and peace building, but there are best practices.
Emphasize Multiple Perspectives
Conversations around difficult topics allow us to experience and learn about different perspectives. It’s important for students to develop the ability to listen to each other and truly hear them.
Disagreements may occur, but this offers an opportunity to clarify perspective and consider how other people’s views inform their opinions. Any disagreement should be a natural and healthy aspect of the conversation that doesn’t escalate to more heated arguments or violence.
Debate is often used in the classroom and has its place as an educational tool, but it has an implicit winner and loser. Dialogue contributes to the classroom climate significantly and encourages an open mind and active listening, rather than competition.
Encourage Critical Thinking
We should always strive to ensure that students get an education that’s tailored, relevant, engaging, and rigorous. Critical thinking is one of the skills that supports conflict mitigation and peace building by enhancing reasoning skills, analyzing and evaluating evidence, claims, and beliefs, and making connections between information and arguments. With these skills, students can reflect critically on conversations, information, and learning experiences.
Engage Students in Interactive Lessons
The methods used to teach conflict mitigation and peace building focus on the interactions between students. Consider options like small group work, role-playing exercises, large group discussions, and experiential activities to support interactive learning.
Focus on the Individual
Statistics are powerful, but they can create distance between an issue and the human beings it affects. Topics should always be humanized and personal first, making them real. Then, they can be supported by numbers.
For example, learning about child hunger in the US may feel like an overwhelming issue where nothing can be done to help. But if we learn about one child and their struggles, we may seek out ways to help.
Embrace Conflict Mitigation and Peace Building to Empower Students
Difficult topics require creative solutions. Black male educators can work with students to understand, address, and mitigate conflict and support peace building activities that leave them feeling empowered.