At quite a young age, I realised I enjoyed arguments; a second to face up one’s opponent of the moment – a chance to put them down with cruel language – an opportunity to let go and lose one’s temper.
Of course, it was all about being on the winning side, and with those wins being few and far between, frequently I’d end up crying in someone’s arms.
As I grew older, I started to notice how the person who spoke quietest, seemed to keep the upper hand – speaking quieter appeared to make the other party shout even louder… a seemingly illogical and bizzarre state of affairs.
It seemed that after all those arguments about staying up “and extra half an hour”, raising my voice hadn’t been helping at all. I decided to embark upon a new strategy…
At the same time, at school, we were being taught dispute resolution procedures for use in the playground. It was a basic mediation process, colloquially called “My Turn, Your Turn” whereby one would be approached/approach others who were involved in a conflict and go through some simple, structured steps something along the lines of:
- Alice, please describe what’s wrong?
- Bob, please describe what’s wrong?
- Alice, how does what Bob is doing make you feel?
- Bob, how does what Alice is doing make you feel?
- Alice, how can we resolve this?
- Bob, how can we resolve this?
- Alice, Bob, does it work for each of you?
- Alice, Bob, resolve it how you explained and then go back to playing football.
Essentially in abstract terms, this getting each party to listen to each other, communicate clearly and come up with a resolution themselves. The “My Turn, Your Turn”, segment referring specifically to requiring each party to listen to the other person without butting in or interrupting them.
At an fundamental level, this is really quite an effective method of dispute resolution.
As I grew older, I started to realise outside school, that if I held back on getting involved in arguments I couldn’t win, I could make sure I had ‘extra ammunition’ with which ‘to hit’ the opponent of the minute with when a better opportunity arose. Several examples delivered without shouting were more effective still, but I realise that by combining that with “My turn, Your turn” tips, one could add one’s feeling into your response, eg.
“but you let $otherchildname [who is the same age as me] stay up until late o’clock, 3 times on identical occasions to this, so I feel disappointed that you aren’t applying your own rules consistently.”
Clearly, a well laid out, persuasive argument like this, is much more effective than trying to shout louder than someone, and is much more effective. Extra bonus points if you noticed how that argument also accuses them of breaking their own “due process”, and frames it within the other persons world.
Fast forward many years…
I was asked recently why I didn’t get more pissed off by car drivers who cut me up whilst I cycle round the city. The suggestion was, that being on a bike was an advantage, because it meant you could shout at idiotic drivers. This made me blink a bit… How was shouting at them going to make any useful difference?
It turns out, when I was a child, I missed out on a key point; to try to leave the conflict resolved, so it wouldn’t happen again. Whilst shouting at cars may be helpful for letting off steam, really all it does is reinforce to a few motorists that cyclists are arrogant and dangerous, whilst reaffirming to a few cyclists the perception that motorists are twits that drive away without caring, neither of which constructively addresses the situation in any way.
When friend’s of mine my lose their tempers, I feel sad.
To me, it seems incredibly rude (or immature) – I find that losing your temper seems to characterise poor judgement – and I do my best to avoid situations where people do.
However, when your friends lose their tempers, as much as you may not enjoy it, you’re in the best possible position to bring it to an amicable resolution. William Ury explains:
It does occur to me, that my perspective here must partly be influenced by arguing a point effectively as a child. When I read this article about “teaching your children to argue” – I did wonder what would have happened if actually, people were taught to effectively communicate their point, things would be a lot different today.
As Adora Svitak says:
“The goal is not to turn kids into your kind of adults, but rather better adults than you have been”
Parents are worried their children will not be able to tell the difference between Reality and Virtual Reality (in a game or online).
- Byron Review
In actual fact, the children grow up knowing the different expectation in social behaviour for the two different environments where as the parents never have.
–Tim Dobson – a few seconds ago….
So as you might have guessed, I am going to post a series of reflections on various child/youth + tech related reports…
This post references paragraph 1.19 of the Byron Review
HOWTO help children imagine they are at home *OR* HOWTO setup a home computer like they are at school (for adults)Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008
I recently spotted a message to the BECTA Safetynet Mailing list from Miles Berry and Terry Freedman.
The message mentioned how they are doing a presentation at BETTS conference in January (apparently some big education conference thingy!) and since they are doing it on
What are your kids learning when you’re not looking?
where they explore things young people learn using computers and IT outside the formal education sphere and activities widely recognised as being educationally beneficial.
To get some hard figures on this they set up a questionnaire for young people to fill asking them of their experiences of how they could and do use computer facilities at home and in educational establishments.
Ways to make The School Internet Experience™ more like The Home Internet Experience™:
- Install Windows XP home on a Celeron 900mhz with 192mb of RAM
- Network using wifi to the unecrypted wifi AP at the other end of the building
- Get the least expensive “unlimited” broadband package. (1GB/month is enough for anyone!)
- Install 5 different p2p programs, 3 of them spyware loaded versions and set them to start on startup.
- Install 30 day trials of several different antivirus packages but completely ignore them.
- Install Windows Live Messenger (latest version) and MSN Plus (with the adware)
- Install the version of Microsoft Works you got with the computer. save all documents in .wps
- Make sure the only browser you have is IE 6.0 with 3 visible third party tool bars including smiley central and coolwebsearch.
- Arrange the desktop so the default wallpaper has icons for programs and assorted forgotten files all over it.
- Never empty the recycle bin
- Install iTunes, buy some songs, transfer them to iPods(tm) but complain, confused to non-technical people when these songs don’t work on phone mp3 players.
- Buy a box of tissues for the poor guy who is called to fix it. He will need post-trauma counselling.
Ways to make The Home Internet Experience™ more like The School Internet Experience™:
- Buy a a RM Branded Stone desktop with 8GB RAM and a 2.8 GHZ Pentium 4 loaded with Windows Vista [Ultimate] and MS Office [student version] 2007 for twice market price (even with Tesco vouchers)
- Buy Windows XP Professional and Office 2003 from RM and install.
- Leave the ‘designed for Vista’ sticker on.
- Buy RM’s Safetynet Content filtering system and install
- Block anything fun.
- Block anything useful.
- Block anything that might possibly contain unverifiable facts. (blogs forums).
- Block anything that might use lots of bandwidth
- Block anything that might allow people to communicate
- Block anything you don’t agree with
- Forget to block foreign language websites
- Whitelist all the popular advert providors and block the rest.
- Whitelist a few file extensions to download from the internet and block the rest.
- Block everything with the word ‘free’ in it
- Block URLs containing a word, chosen randomly by week – this week it’s “dragon” ?!
- Block anything that might be offensive to everything from fleas to ants.
- Fail to block web proxies through URL patterns and just block domains
- Block anything that isn’t http traffic (including https)
- Block school webmail for several days by accident (no one can email you to report the problem)
- Ask RM to buy you the software they think your computers might need and install Adobe/Macromedia megasuite + Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition.
- Remove most useful functionality from the start menu
- Make all users sign an AUP which is hard to break if you are to do your job/complete your course.
- Display full screen message if USB devices is inserted saying it should be removed instantly citing security concerns.
- Remove computer access from anyone who attempts to outsmart you you
- Buy and Install remote desktop spying software (RM re-branded Citrix product)
- Install IE 7
- Refuse to install OpenOffice.Org or Firefox and cite “Security Concerns”.
- Put out a few press releases exclaiming how much you have spent on IT facilities and thus infer you will get your best ever results next year and massively exaggerate what ICT means to you.
With all due respect, I wish Mike and Terry the best of luck with their seminar, and look forward to seeing the results! I think the outcome should be especially insightful after the recent study released by the MacArthur foundation.
Blog Post on Educational and Home Computer Systems © Tim Dobson 2008
Dual licenced under Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike 2.0 UK: England and Wales (licence text) and
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice, and the copyright notice, are preserved.
You may choose to distribute the article under either, or both of the licences.