It is mid-September and most schools are at least a couple of weeks into the new school year. The normal classes, English, History, Geography, Math and even PE are well underway. But what about the interactions that happen on the playground or in the halls between classes? What are students being taught then?
Bullying has certainly become a big buzz word of late and the effects of bullying are becoming better known. Many schools have anti-bullying rules and there is greater awareness for the damage that bullying does to students.
But what are we really doing to provide students with a healthy way to express disagreement and conflict? There is lots of “don’t be mean”, “don’t hit”, “don’t call names”, etc. But what can they do? Disagreement, conflict and arguments are not something you can legislate away. They are going to happen. And when they do, students will often resort to underhanded, conniving and manipulative ways to get their point across. In other words, they become frenemies.
I know you’ve seen it; maybe you have even experienced it. That person who is nice and sweet to your face but behind your back, they are meaner than an injured dog. Even when they say nice things to your face, they aren’t really that nice. “You are so pretty. It is too bad you have to wear ugly clothes.” “You are a good soccer player. Bet you wish your parents could send you to camp like mine did.”
Studies have shown that students as young as grade school age can be taught to use communication skills. When a student is taught how to express him or herself using effective words they are less likely to resort to frenemy behavior.
But where are people supposed to learn these skills? A look at the corporate world shows that most parents don’t have them. In the United States $2billion a year is spent on executive coaching. A lot of the skills that coaches provide revolve around effective communication and conflict resolution. That tells me that those skills are very valuable but are not being provided anywhere in the education system; including in college.
I propose that schools could easily teach effective interpersonal communication and productive conflict. In the younger grades teachers could be trained in it, model the behaviors and instruct children on how to use it when they have a disagreement. In the higher grades, experiential classes could be taught were students learn and practice the skills.
Some options for what we could be teaching are the 7 No Fail Secrets to Stop The Drama! and the 9 Secrets to Great Teamwork. Both available for free download at www.StopTheDramaNow.com
I don’t know about you, but knowing how to deal with conflict would have been much more useful to me when I first got out of school and started working than say, calculus or Russian literature was.
What do you think? Should schools be providing more interpersonal skills? Let me know in the comments.
Come back next week when I talk about why we all need more productive conflict in our lives.
Did you miss last week when I talked about Is Drama the Same as Bullying? Read it here.
Tags :backstabbing, bully, bullying, Champion Performance Development, communication, conflict, conflict resolution, disagreement, Doc Robyn, frenemies, frenemy, frienemies, frienemy, Robyn Odegaard, school curriculum