Peacemaking starts with conversation…children plan together…they develop a ritual and rules for discussion:
- Do you want to solve this problem?
- Do you want to solve it with us or the teacher?
- Do you agree to listen?
- No stepping on toes?
- No arguing back and forth?
- No denying?
The DAS kids decided early on that there would not be a chosen team of Peacemakers, that instead anyone who felt ready could declare themselves Peacemakers, and that would be that. It worked. It was democracy at its evolutionary best – children learning the ways of equity, fairness, and social justice. Versions of stories became more than fables and fairy tales. They became points of view in complex child-to-child controversies. They were stories that had to be voiced, heard, addressed, and respected.
The children did not always adhere strictly to the rituals, but the rituals were inside them, they were learning how to collaborate, listen, express, wait their turn, respect diverse opinions and unfamiliar ways of thinking. They were learning about conflict resolution in school and what it means to build community. They were learning little by little, day by day, how to do just that.