I grew up in a working class family of four kids without a lot of excess. Sometimes that meant sharing and sometimes that meant fighting for competitive advantage.
On the rare occasion of there being a leftover Eskimo Pie dessert, my sister Donna and I would immediately default into argument about who the spoils should fall to. My determination to hack the system in my favour generally outweighed mum’s preference for us to share.
Mum would see this coming and intervene with her go-to strategy. “One cuts, one chooses”.
Let me tell you, this strategy is unhackable. I’ve examined it from every angle. No matter how I try I just can’t skew this in my favour … and against Donna.
As a child, it just frustrated me. But as an adult, I’ve looked into what the genius is in this simple parenting trick.
And I found it.
When I teach about Restorative Practices, I speak to the first principle of a Fair Process – engagement. That’s about getting people in conflict involved, hearing their story, handing them the responsibility to find a solution.
It’s also about avoiding authoritarian positions that require you to deliver a verdict based on blame. Instead, we assume the position of helper and facilitator.
That’s pretty much all Mum did. She observed the problem and handed Donna and I the tools and instructions to do it ourselves.
There’s a lesson in this for us in schools. When students make behavioural errors or when conflict emerges, our first inclination must be to involve them in the process of solution identification.
Or … get ready for them to hack your system.
Keep fighting that good fight,
PS. I’m finding it tough to find the words to express how rapt we are to be once more providing some cutting-edge and FACE-TO-FACE Professional Learning Workshops for Teachers and School Leaders. We’ll be in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane across May/June and we’d love you to come along. All the deets for accessing the brief Early Bird prices are at our Real Schools Events Page