No More Bullies

Stick Figure Family

What is the point of education? To prepare children to thrive in a diverse world? To ignite their unique passions and empower them to support others in thriving? What top three skills do human beings need to succeed? Is interpersonal communication on the list? What about conflict resolution? 
 
If there is one arena where the disparity between the educational processes of academics and Life Skills is most glaring it is interpersonal communication skills. For math developed countries regularly provide children trained educators, multiple age-appropriate resources, and opportunities to expand their competency levels over years. For conflict resolution –  by contrast – children are called names (bullies, mean girls, ADD) ostracized, disciplined, and incarcerated. Why?
 
What does placing thirty children with diverse interpersonal skill levels in a classroom,  mandating they “get along,” then shaming and punishing them when they struggle communicate about adult respect for interpersonal communication?

What avoidable pains are suffered by children and adults in homes around the planet daily? What does employee conflict cost companies and societies? What do prisoners cost taxpayers? What human potential is thwarted due to our failure to prioritize this critical Life Skill?
  
Although societies wholesale ignore teaching children the skills necessary to avoid conflict in grade school, they regularly prepare adults to respond to conflict: psychologists, therapists, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, military etc.

Isn’t this a bit like telling people to jump in the cockpit of 747’s absent instruction then cleaning up crash sites?

 

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them. Einstein

 

 What is needed to effect substantive social change? Parenting 2.0 provides a top ten list for a paradigm shift, we welcome also your suggestions.
  
1/ Respect human hard-wiring. Unless someone is the exception to all of creation, they are hard-wired to thrive – they are always doing the best within their circumstances given their abilities. 

2/ Acknowledge the mandatory curriculum every child faces – feeling they “matter” and having friends.

3/ Prioritize teaching children the skills necessary for success in the arena of interpersonal communications from pre-school to graduation.

4/ Appreciate every stage of the learning curve equally. Just as we don’t call a first grader learning addition “bad” and a tenth grader learning calculus “good”, the terms are no more appropriate in the arena of interpersonal communication and conflict resolution.

5/ Celebrate diversity. Humanity, like all of creation, is magnificently diverse. Human beings have different brains, different temperaments, different sensitivities. Rather than disparaging these differences – acknowledge and celebrate them. Learn from others rather than mandating or feigning homogeneity.

6/ Embrace humility. We would not call a mechanic that could not tell us what is under the hood of our car an expert. Human beings are still learning what is under their human hoods. Discoveries of the human brain alone in recent years have proved many things once understood as fact to be wholly false.  Until we can construct a human being from scratch in a lab, let us remain humble and curious during the discovery process rather than all-knowing and self-righteous.

7/ Express gratitude. Instead of teaching children to always want more, teach them gratitude. Millions of human beings struggled for today’s children to enjoy the blessings they do – millions more still lack basics like food and water.  Express gratitude, pay it forward. 

8/ Heed your Human GPS. Every living thing has a God given inner GPS. Instead of teaching children merely to listen to the instructions  of others, teach them also to listen to their human GPS – they are equipped with one for a reason.

9/ Applaud failure. Failure is a sign someone is trying something new. Trying new things is courageous. To applaud success and decry failure is to celebrate the cake and disparage the farmer. 

10/ Love. Human beings thrive when loved, brains work better, health is enhanced. Let’s acknowledge the value of love and respect its power and supremacy on the list of human needs when teaching the three R’s.

Editor’s note: This blog is dedicated to the Parenting 2.0 humanitarians that graciously served as Thought Leaders for the No More Bullies panel at P20 Talks 2012: Devin Hughes, Dr. Donna Volpitta, Dr. Samantha Madhosingh, Dr. Deborah Gilboa, Catherine Mattice and Dione Becker. P20 Talks 2012 was the first professional conference to recognize Life Skills as distinct foundational skill sets teachable by third party educators.

 

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