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Meaningful Dialogue & Conflict Resolution In The Classroom

Updated: Apr 14

Most real life situations involve problem solving in groups/teams. So much so that the National Education Policy 2020 encourages group projects to encourage children to participate in group discussions while working on the project. There is bound to be small to big conflicts. Here is how children can be helped to resolve conflicts amicably and even better make sure that everyone is heard.


Children need time and space to work in groups. It is impossible for an adult to constantly supervise conversations and perhaps even defeats the purpose of creating a team activity. Equipping children with the conscious thinking about showing empathy to others, actively listening to others, learning to note down one's points so that one can listen without having to worry about forgetting something etc,. is crucial. This can easily be done by a facilitator/teacher in the course of classroom conversations.

Let's take a simple example in which the use if meaningful and purposeful dialogue leads to a resolution of a simple conflict. A class in grade 6 has just begun. Two volunteers need to take turns every second day to change the date on the board and draw something pretty or write an interesting quote on the board. They have however forgotten whose turn it is. Both insist that it is one's own turn and there is an exchange of words. The teacher can either raise her voice and scold both of them. Or she could raise a question that makes them pause and think a bit. The teacher chooses the latter option. She asks them to consider the others in the classroom. "Ask your peers if anyone of them would take up the job today. After all none of them have got a chance." This question resulted in silence.

One of the volunteers simply said, "Anyone can do it. I don't care."

The teacher then takes care to make this volunteer feel heard and says, "Sounds like you are feeling hurt. That wasn't the intention. Why don't you help us figure a solution that is fair to everyone, including you?"

"Ok...let's ask the others if they would like to take over today."

"I don't want to."


Many others followed with similar responses leaving the two volunteers back to where they started.

"I am ok with any thing. He can go if he likes. I will go the next time."

"Actually, Ma'am never gets a chance to do this. Ma'am would you like to do it today. We have always got a chance."

"Is that what you both want?" asks the teacher.

The two volunteers actually agree on a decision and announce that they would love to give the teacher a chance!

The teacher appreciates the way they resolved their difference in opinion before moving ahead with the schedule. The key takeaway from this instance is that the two children were given room to take a step back and look around. There were many who did not even get a chance while they did. And there they were fighting over whose chance it was that day. They figure that they must keep note, so that this confusion does not occur once again.

Carrying forward empathy in group discussions and projects using meaningful dialogue

How does it feel not to be heard? That is possible to know only if one is the silent participant in the group who has an idea but no guts to say it. The fear of being laughed at or criticized makes these children curl up in their shells. On the other hand, give the outspoken ones a chance to notice that some aren't getting a chance to express themselves. Given the silent ones some direction, support to help themselves try speaking up and see how that feels, goes a long way in enhancing collaboration among children and in the process creating brilliant multifaceted solutions.


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