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Engaging students using “democratic conflict dialogue”

“Conflict dialogue” is defined as a process of engaging participants in conversation about conflict topics and processes in democratic ways which can lead to building peace. Opportunities for this type of discussion are frequent in language education settings. But how do educators go about setting up a safe space for this kind of dialogue?

The September 2014 issue of the journal Curriculum Inquiry focuses on the theme, Peacebuilding (in) Education: Democratic Approaches to Conflict in Schools and Classrooms. While the articles do not explicitly discuss peacebuilding in language education, many of the topics are relevant for language educators as well as educators in public school settings. In particular, Kathy Bickmore’s Peacebuilding Dialogue Pedagogies in Canadian Classrooms looks at the role of dialogue in multicultural classrooms to discuss difficult issues.

Also check out Christina Parker’s article on Peacebuilding education: Using conflict dialogue for democratic and inclusive learning opportunities for diverse students, which relates closely to Bickmore’s work. Parker describes three different classroom environments utilizing “conflict dialogue” approaches to class discussions on difficult issues, such as war, religion, and discrimination, and she highlights ways that help all students’ voices to be heard. Each of the educators uses a different approach to engage their elementary school students.

Parker concludes that “Teaching explicitly about conflict and diversity through a critical multicultural program invited quiet and diverse students in the classroom to speak. Through discussions about diversity and conflict, the three teachers [in the study] facilitated peacebuilding, which then invited further opportunities for learning about divergent or conflicting perspectives.” Parker and Bickmore’s research can prompt new ideas for ways in which language educators can more full engage participants’ voices and identities in the classroom.

 

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About clwoelk

Cheryl Woelk is coordinator of Language for Peace and specializes in language and peace education in multicultural contexts. She holds an MA in Education and a graduate certificate in Peacebuilding from Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, USA. Cheryl currently lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with her spouse and son.

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Contributing Author

Cheryl Woelk is coordinator of Language for Peace and specializes in language and peace education in multicultural contexts. She holds an MA in Education and a graduate certificate in Peacebuilding from Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, USA. Cheryl currently lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with her spouse and son.

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