Student Conflict Resolution: The 30 second solution

“I want the bike,”
“No. You can’t have it.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA problem negotiated and solved. Friendship maintained, feelings expressed and managed, resource shared, compromise reached, peace maintained, fairness asserted, inequality addressed and crisis averted. All in less than thirty seconds.

I saw all this happen yesterday in a thirty second exchange on the playground. It’s the kind of experience that happens daily in the kindergarten. This one involved two girls and one tricycle. Girl one is happily pedaling the circuit at a furious pace and does not really want to accede to the request of Girl two to take over the bike. There’s a brief exchange that goes something like this:

“I want to ride the bike now.”
“You can’t it’s my turn. I got it first.”
“But I want to and it’s only fair.”
“OK. I will just have one more go around and then you can have it.”

PDS parent and trustee Bruce Judson has been writing a lot about issues of inequality and the social fabric recently. His book It Could Happen here: America on the Brink has received a favorable reception and he and his articles have appeared in many places. He makes the case that inequality and the widening wealth gap threaten the stability of society and democracy itself.

Maybe we all need to return to the values and skills of kindergarten

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