The need for conflict resolution in schools


Comment by FELICIA JACKSON, Chair of the Learn2Think Foundation

As teachers, parents and carers, we are currently navigating our way through a minefield of complex issues - from global pandemics to climate change - which may trigger fear, anxiety and emotional responses in children and adults alike. Such responses are creating perfect conditions for intolerance, misunderstanding and conflict, and factor in at every stage from the global to the interpersonal, as evidenced by bullying and conflict in our schools.

Our educational system, focused as it is on measurement, is built around the concept of there being primarily right and wrong answers, and children are rewarded when they get the answer ‘right’. There is a fundamental disconnect between this and the world in which we live, where information is frequently changing, knowledge is expanding, and facts are under attack.

In the modern world we need to learn to

think about what we are being told and why and learn to ask questions that can lead to solutions. Finding facts and answers that only support what we already think is a closed approach that is no longer fit for purpose, especially in education. In relationships this tendency to see

things in a binary way will fuel disagreements and entrench “I am right”, “they are wrong” thinking.

This year Learn2Think is making conflict resolution the focus of its annual marking of Tolerance Day. Learning materials will include games, processes for the classroom, teaching tools, whole school activities and curriculum-based lesson plans. There is also a new initiative, the Questioning Project, teaching how to encourage student- generated questioning whilst developing empathy, independent thinking and problem-solving skills.

At Learn2Think we believe that tolerance can be embedded in education through our seven steps framework.What we have come to realise through our work with schools is that while children are very receptive to the idea of understanding others, of the importance of fairness and the need to be kind (through reading, games and working together), they often struggle with the idea that there can more than one ‘right’ answer, that we need to allow others to hold opinions and beliefs that differ from our own, and that questions are valuable as well as answers. Indeed, good questioning skills underpin the curiosity and growth mindset that foster tolerant attitudes which can in turn prevent conflict or ensure good resolutions.

In a world that is increasingly antagonistic to we need to ensure that young people learn con

flict resolution skills that anything seen as ‘other’

they can take into adulthood. By building on children’s innate understanding of the importance of fairness and keeping a focus on what we have in common, we can share a vision of a peaceful and productive future with each other.Mutual understanding and dialogue are the most effective tools in the arsenal of human communication. When we develop these, we have the ability to move beyond conflict, to find a way of resolving an impasse and moving towards solutions. This is equally true of a row in the playground, as it is of trans-national reconciliation movements.


Dowe really needmusic in schools, anyway?

Comment byWILL EVANS, CEO, Spitfire Audio

Music in UK schools is on the decline. Budget cuts and

curriculum demotion have led to it becoming a whisper of its former self in recent years, but what’s all the fuss about?Music isn’t a “real” vocation, is it? PRS, the UK body that pays out royalties to composers and songwriters only paid out £.75 billion in 2018. And Britain was only reported recently to produce 13%of the music consumed globally (our relative population just under 1%). Quirky Brit acts like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Ed Sheeran don’t really do that much for us culturally, do they?

The creative industry in the UK

is booming. It accounts for 1 in 11 jobs so, by taking the likes of music ools, we are cutting it off at the knees. For us to ensure ue to prosper in the global creative arena, we must rection of our education system and the risk it runs of

consider the di that we contin away from sch


breeding a homogeneous society of tomorrow, being taught to excel predominantly in fact-recital and exam technique.

Another ramification is the reduction in cultivation of works from those less privileged in society. Independent schools are actually spending more on music - a tell-tale sign of its true value yet, for those without the necessary means, it’s nigh-on disappearing. That may lead to an exciting underground revolution, but we overlook the opportunity to discover the greatest talent our country has to offer and nurture it to satisfy its full potential.

At the heart of this issue appears to be the perception that music education is expendable; “soft”, “fun”, a nice-to-have. The challenge is how to better establish and amplify the awareness of its impact on our success as a country, and raise its profile with respect to the core subj


We’re all familiar with the anecdote of the forlorn parent faced with a child wanting to ‘do music’ as a career. But actually, music is a world full of employment opportunities. Sure, there aren’t many slots for the next Ed Sheeran, but I’m looking out at a highly exciting and innovative music technology company which is one of many in a burgeoning industry where there are a plethora of jobs to be done.

We’ve hired over 50 people in the last 18 months. It’s not difficult to get a job here - you don’t even necessarily need a degree. And in my experience that’s the same as the wider music industry in general. For some reason a myth has developed that it’s an impenetrable fortress where only nepotism serves you. As per the creative industry in general, our world is growing and there are more jobs for everyone! Music and its place in the economy isn’t a magic bubble that we should separate from “normal life” - if we can unpick misconceptions around it, we may not just prevent a potential drought in suitable talent but actually accelerate the growth even more. Perhaps we ought to try adopting the phrase: ‘do give up your day job’?

March 2020

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