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”
…in Sweden we have the first political party, that, if you like, is allying itself with a particular age group – the Pirate Party.
I don’t think this is true. I mean sure, in Sweden there’s a political party called the Pirate Party, but it’s hardly focused on a specific age group.
Let me explain: actually, there are Pirate Parties in over 40 countries, inspired by the Swedes. In Germany, I was there for the run up to an election which saw the German Pirate Party get 14 seats in the State Parliament. So whilst Sweden was where the movement started and has had some success, (Sweden is represented in the European Parliament by two Pirate Party MEPs), the concept is hardly isolated.
In the UK, we have a Pirate Party. If you’ve read this blog before, you may have noticed that I’m currently the Education Spokesperson and that I contested the parliamentary seat of Manchester Gorton in the 2010 General Election.
I think it’s also worth thinking about the other point that Keri made; is the Pirate Party allying itself specifically with a certain age group? Rick Falkvinge – the founder of the Pirate Party movement – puts forward an interesting explanation:
As Rick says, “it’s a little bit more than that; let us explain” and I hope this post has helped people to understand and clarify the original statement.
I first encountered Richard, like many others, via the Schoolforge-uk (SF-UK) mailing list, with his posts on free software and LTSP related subjects.
As probably one of the only Manchester Free Software talks that was not been videoed (release of the videos is a separate issue!), it was a talk that I vividly remember regretting it was not being recorded mid-talk. I regret this to this day.
Some may know that Richard was a important (I think Chief) Examiner for one of the exam boards in GCSE ICT (I think) and at the time, I was having a really hard time with my AS ICT Applied double courses.
I really enjoyed his talk which, whilst focusing on his deployment of LTSP in secondary schools, gave some very insightful ideas into what an school which fully embraced free software could turn out like.
He mentioned that the idea of running the network on LTSP came from two technologically adept 15 year olds.
He explained how they approached him with this distro that did basic LTSP, and so he took them out of lessons and got them to demonstrate how it worked to him on two old machines. Once the potential became clear, as I understand he deployed LTSP on a largish network with minimal resources, saving oodles of money and using recycled computers.
To me, a place where IT staff not only listened to the students, but interacted and were willing to look into ideas shared by the students is amazing, but for them build this system *around* free software is a utopia.
I think Richard persuaded me that there were better places out there, and it was worth working hard to work towards those.
I hope this is what I’m doing now.
A true legend, remembered well.
Richard sadly died on Friday 17th July.
There is a tribute website set up for him at http://tributestorichardrothwell.net, where you can leave your condolences.
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