Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Working restoratively in schools: A guidebook for developing safe and connected learning communities, by Bill Hansberry, Quennscliff, Victoria, Australia, Inyahead Press, 2009, 1 + 128 pp., AU$29.50/US$27.00 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-9806942-0-8
Tom Cavanagh, PhD
The author of this book is a well-known practitioner of the application of restorative justice theory in schools, particularly in Australia. He is to be commended for providing a practical resource for educators to help them understand the theory of restorative justice as it is applied in educational settings and to help them apply that theory in practical ways.
My review of this book is influenced by my special interest in developing the theory of a Culture of Care in schools based on restorative justice principles, particularly related to the importance of building and maintaining healthy and caring relationships, in order that all students, particularly those students who do not belong to the dominant culture, may flourish in school and as adults.
This book offers a valuable contribution in the field regarding the application of restorative justice theory in schools, sometimes called restorative practices, by providing educators will a simple and clear explanation of restorative justice theory as applied in schools and a detailed guide about how to apply that theory. This theory is largely based on the work of respected scholars in the field like John Braithwaite and Brenda Morrison and draws from other theories, such as William Glasser’s Choice Theory, Donald Nathanson’s Compass of Shame, and Daniel Goleman’s theory about Social Intelligence.
The purpose of this book is to provide a whole-school approach to implementing restorative justice processes and a resource to assist in implementing change in these schools. The conversation currently in the field centers on how to introduce restorative practices in schools. This book contributes to the field of restorative justice in education by providing a easy to understand guide for educators to apply the theory of restorative justice in schools. However, I was left questioning how the ideas presented in this book would build the capacity of students to solve problems non-violently and how those ideas would lead to the profound change in the culture of schools that is required to transform from being punitive and rules based to healing and collaborative.
The first section of this book introduces readers to the theory underlying restorative practices in schools. The second section tells educators how to move from theory to practice. And the final section offers detailed ideas for applying restorative practices in educational settings. At the end of the book is a list of references for the reader who wants to explore the field further.
The author of this book contends that the book serves as a resource for micro and organizational change. While micro level change is obvious, particularly in the guidance the book gives for building the capacity of teachers to respond to wrongdoing and conflict in a restorative manner rather than punitively, organizational level change is not so obvious. My review of the book revealed the book does not offer ideas for systemic change, and without such change the practices mentioned in the book may well be viewed as another tool in the traditional disciplinary toolkit, rather than the basis for the profound change that is required to truly create whole school reform.
The critical element that is missing in this book is acknowledgement of the impact of disparities in education that affect restorative practices. Whether we are talking about Aboriginal people in Australia, Maori in New Zealand, First Nations people in Canada, or African-American, Latin/Hispanic, and Native American students in the United States, those of us working in the field of restorative practices in education are ethically obligated to acknowledge that our work is directly linked to the statistics of disparity that disproportionately affect students from these minority groups. We cannot ignore the cultural impact of our work and what we can learn from listening to the voices of these people from minority groups as we shape the discourses that are the foundation of our work.
While this book, upon review, was found lacking in some respects, I recommend that educators and those interested in education purchase and read this book. This book provides an excellent resource for teachers and administrators who want to understand restorative justice theory and how to apply that theory in schools using tried and practical tools.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Experts on Topic: Janine Geske, Marquette University
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
INDIGENOUS CONTEXTS FOR RESPONDING TO CHALLENGING BEHAVIOUR: CONTRASTING WESTERN ACCOUNTABILITY WITH MAORI RESTORATION OF HARMONY
was written with two Maori colleagues from New Zealand - Mere Berryman and Sonja Macfarlane. This article was published in the International Journal of Restorative Justice and is available at www.crjcs.org under the Vol 5, No 1 link (right hand side of web site).
When I went to New Zealand in 2004 one of the things I hoped to learn is what Maori traditional thinking could tell us to help our practices. I found it took five years to develop the relationships with Maori and an understanding of their rich culture so that I could engage in the conversation that led to this article.
I believe you will find this article most interesting, particularly for those who ask - What are we restoring? Maori tell us that at the core of what restorative justice is about is relationships, and what we are restoring are those relationships.
Monday, October 26, 2009
The article highlighted the restorative justice program in Longmont, Colorado, and contained quotes from Dr Beverly Title, a friend and colleague whom I respect deeply. I believe Beverly's Teaching Peace program is an example of best practice in the field of restorative justice.
Also quoted in the article is Professor Larry Sherman, who along with Australian researcher Dr Helen Strang have provided those of us working in the field of restorative justice evidence that restorative justice does indeed work in their 2007 publication Restorative Justice: The Evidence. In the Parade article Dr Sherman is quoted as saying that every dollar spent on restorative justice programs saves about $8 that would be spent in our traditional legal system. So why do policymakers, particularly in these lean times, ignore this wonderful opportunity? Dr Sherman believes it is simply a matter that these policymakers do not believe restorative justice is tough enough.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Creating Schools of Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of War and Violence
Online Publication Date: 01 January 2009
To cite this Article: Cavanagh, T. (2009).Creating Schools of Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of War and Violence. Journal of School Violence (8)1, 64 — 80.
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/15388220802067912
147 Tips For Teaching Peace and Reconciliation
by William M. Timpson, Edward J. Brantmeier, Nathalie Kees, Tom Cavanagh,
Claire McGlynn, and Elavie Ndura-Ouédraogo
Violence and prejudice are regrettably commonplace in the world around us. Our
responses to acts of violence are critical. They can help to either perpetuate the
chain reaction of reprisal or reverse it. As educators who wish to further peaceful
alternatives, we must reach out with compassion and respect for others. And we
must do so in real, practical ways.
William Timpson and his fellow contributors from around the world begin this new
book from Atwood Publishing with the concept that violence and division are not
inherent, but have forcibly occupied our history books and our everyday ways of
thinking, leaving us a one-sided story that threatens to repeat itself endlessly.
From this beginning, 147 Tips For Teaching Peace and Reconciliation asserts that
peace must be actively taught, and outlines effective and practical ways to do so.
Each of the authors draws from a deep well of personal experience advancing reconciliation
in divided societies. This enables them to balance academic theory with
real-world practice as they present a diverse array of tips — priceless for teaching
peace to your students, discovering peace in your personal life, and promoting peace
in your community.
- Rethinking the War and Dominance Paradigms
- Challenging the Language of Conflict
- Building a Positive Climate of Trust
passive or a neutral activity. Whether you plan to integrate peace education into a
pre-existing class, teach a new class on peace, or bring peace and reconciliation to
your community, 147 Tips for Teaching Peace and Reconciliation will give you valuable
direction to help you accomplish your goals.
For futher information or to request a copy to review for publication, contact:
Linda Babler, Atwood Publishing, PO Box 3185, Madison, WI 53704; 888.242.7101;
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Recently I learned from a colleague who works in the field of restorative justice that a source of conflict is a sense of entitlement. Upon hearing that, my mind clicked. Of course, when I have a sense of entitlement, the result often is conflict - conflict between my expectations and yours.
So the lesson for me is to work at taking a position of humility. As an American, who grew up as a privileged White male, this is a difficult position to take. However, the peace this stance creates within myself and with others is well worth the difficulty.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Currently restorative practices in schools are often marginalized to end-of-the-line interventions. Apparently schools are not willing to change the culture, the status quo. In that event, I believe we must focus on helping the students who are the focus of our interventions to find a place where they can learn in an atmosphere that values:
- Supporting these students to build and maintain peaceful and caring relationships and
- Helping these students to flourish.
My research reveals that American schools tend to view restorative practices as a response to wrongdoing and conflict, rather than a basis for transformation of the school culture. Schools are strongly resistant to change. They would rather make minor adjustments to the status quo and term it reform. The Culture of Care in Schools that I help schools engage in calls for profound change.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Announcing a SPECIAL ISSUE of the
Journal for Peace and Justice Studies
Revisioning Justice: The Justice Context for Understanding and
Operationalizing Restorative Justice
The Intersection of Restorative Justice with Trauma Healing, Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding
Getting and Keeping It Real: Less than Perfect Restorative Justice Intervention and the Value of Small Connections
Creating a New Discourse of Peace in Schools: Restorative Justice in Education
The Origins of Restorative Conferencing
Restorative Justice Practices of Native American Practitioners of the Southwestern United States
ABBEY J. PORTER
Restorative Conferencing in Thailand: A Resounding Success with Juvenile Crime
To Order this Single Issue
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Vol. 18, No. 1-2 _____
Back Issues are $15 per volume.
Total number of issues:____ Total Amount: $________
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Please make all checks payable to The Journal for Peace and Justice Studies.
Return to: Managing Editor
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Villanova University, Sullivan Hall
800 Lancaster Avenue Villanova, PA 19085-1699 Thank you for your order!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I do not claim that what I offer is the answer; rather, perhaps a contributing factor. I have found that when problems and conflicts arise in our schools teachers ignore them, respond with punishment, or send the person(s) involved off to an expert to solve the problem. These problems are seen to be disruptions to the learning rather than learning opportunities.
If these problems and conflicts are transformed into learning opportunities, then the capacity of teachers and students can be enhanced to respond nonviolently. If teachers and students behave as passive participants in the problems and conflicts, they they will not know how to respond nonviolently to these events when they occur later in life.
Restorative justice theory offers us a way to understand this new response to problems and conflict. Restorative practices offer us skills to use when responding to problems and conflict nonviolently.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Creating a Culture of Care in Schools:
Lessons Learned About Using Restorative Practices in New Zealand Schools
The talk will be based on the chapter I wrote for a book to be published next year titled: International Perspectives on Restorative Justice in Education.
Included in the talk will be an emphasis on what I learned from my relationships with Maori - what they call whakawhanaungatanga.
Currently the Colorado Legislature is considering a bill to abolish the death penalty - House Bill 1274. Although the motive underlying this bill is economic (freeing up money to devote to cold cases) rather than moral (upholding the idea of human dignity), I support passage of the bill because the outcome is consistent with restorative justice principles.
As I wrote several years ago emphasis on law and punishment may result on a safe community for the dominant society but does not create a peaceful community for all. In order to create peace in our communities we need to turn from retribution to healing the harm of crime and restoring relationships among persons causing harm to others, persons harmed, their families and friends, and all people in our communities.
The death penalty is contrary to restoration of the common good. Fundamental to the philosophy of the common good is respect for the human dignity of each person. Such respect is fundamental to restorative justice. Execution of offenders who murder is utter disrespect for human life. Thus, opposition to the death penalty is a core value of justice based on restoration of peace among individuals living together in community.
So often we read of brutal murders in the headlines. We fail to realize murders more often happen between people who know each other and may even be related. I am reminded of a case I listened to as a court reporter involving a father letting his daughter sit on his lap and drive their pickup. How often did we let out children do the same thing? The father in this case was drunk. He and his daughter were driving on a graveled, country road. The pickup went off the road and crashed. The daughter died as a result of the crash.
I first saw the father several days later in court. He stood before me crying uncontrollably, so much so we could not proceed. Did he deserve to be punished? Yes, I think so, but all our punitive sanctions could not increase the guilt and remorse the father felt. Yet, our judicial system, rather than healing the harm of this crime, followed mandatory sentencing guidelines and separated this poor, ethnic minority family by placing this father in prison for a lengthy time and leaving the mother and other children without the father and provider for their family.
Such action does not deter crime nor rehabilitate the offender. Rather, we are destroying families, ethnic cultures, and communities of people.
Just as in this case, the death penalty does not result in the execution of people like me, white, affluent, and employed in meaningful work. The death penalty primarily affects the poor, mentally ill, dark skinned, addicted, and those vulnerable people living on the margins of our society.
We as believers in restorative justice are called upon to not only oppose the death penalty but to rebuff a justice system based on expediency and efficiency in favor of a justice system founded on the common good, focused on the healing of persons harmed, persons causing harm, their families and supporters, and all members of our communities. To do this will take great courage. Let us pray together for courage to create peace in our communities through restorative justice.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Since restorative justice is based on the idea of building and maintaining positive and caring relationships, let's look at these two dimensions from that perspective. In the dominance hierarchy social order relationships are based on power and fear. Conversely in an egalitarian society relationships are based on social obligations, equality, and cooperation.
If restorative justice is to become part of the mainstream of American life, then society needs to move along the continuum from being a dominance hierarchy to a more egalitarian society. Hopefully, that is the fundamental change that President Barack Obama and others in the Democratic party support. At the present moment we are suffering from the negative economic and social impacts of a social order based on dominance hierarchy. We need to admit this is a failed ideology when it comes to creating a new social order of relationships based on equality rather than suffering the negative impacts of inequality.
I encourage you to read The Impact of Inequality by Richard Wilkinson to learn more about these ideas.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
For the first time in history, according to a recent study by the Pew Center on the States, more than one in every 100 adults in the U.S. is in jail or prison. There has not been, however, a correlating decrease in crime. “The education system, particularly for inner-city youth where the bulk of our prisoners come from, is abysmal,” Carol Fennelly, executive director of Hope House, a Washington, D.C.-based organization supporting prisoners’ families, told Sojourners. “We need real job opportunities and a reformed society in which people don’t end up in prison in the first place.” Here are some numbers:
* 67 percent: People released from prison who are re-arrested within three years.
* 32 percent: Increase in federal prisoners between 2000 and 2007, which coincides with the 454 new offenses added to the federal criminal code during that same period.
* 7.4 million. Number of people under the control of the U.S. criminal justice system in 2007.
* 83.5 percent: People in jail in 2002 who earned less than $2,000 per month prior to arrest.
* 64 percent: Increase in criminal justice-related government spending between 1996 and 2005, reaching a height of $213 billion in 2005.
Sources: “Moving Target: A Decade of Resistance to the Prison Industrial Complex” (Justice Policy Institute, September 2008); “One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008” (The Pew Center on the States); The Washington Post. A Broken System. by Rose Marie Berger and Jeannie Choi. Sojourners Magazine, February 2009 (Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 10). Between the Lines.
These statistics are not only disturbing, they, in fact, graphically point out to us the impact of disparity. While we live in a wonderful country and most of us enjoy a good lifestyle, not all people in America share in that quality life, and those that don't are generally not white, middle or upper class, and mentally and physically healthy. As a result we need to admit that our legal system is racially and socioecominically constructed. Until we acknowledge this fundamental truth, we will not be able to create the profound change that is required to create an America where all people can flourish.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
We are empowered to think beyond ourselves, to imagine the more perfect union for which this compact was forged.
But as Obama himself reminded us Tuesday, stubborn facts crouch just offstage, waiting to pounce. We return to a minefield of tripwires ready to ensnare our hopes and dreams.
By chance, Tuesday evening I came upon some of those stubborn facts, in this issue of "Sojourners" magazine.
For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 adults in America is in jail or prison that's 2.3 million people. One reason? The leader of one organization working with prisoners' families told "Sojourners" that "The education system, particularly for inner-city youth where the bulk of our prisoners come from, is abysmal."
That statement sent me looking for a copy of Barack Obama's memoir "Dreams from My Father". I had met Obama just once, many years ago, when he was a community organizer in Chicago. Later, when I first read his book, I had been impressed that he was writing about what we had talked about the day of our visit. Here's the passage that stood out, describing his experience coming back to Chicago after his graduation from Harvard Law School:
"Upon my return to Chicago, I would find the signs of decay accelerated throughout the south side, the neighborhoods shabbier, the children edgier and less restrained, more middle-class families heading out to the suburbs, the jails bursting with glowering youth, my brothers without prospects. All too rarely do I hear people asking just what it is that we've done to make so many children's hearts so hard, or what collectively we might do to right their moral compass, what values we must live by. Instead I see us doing what we've always done, pretending that these children are somehow not our own."
That's the reality, crouched at Obama's door. Our door. Far too many members of this extended family, locked away, poor and in prison. So think of Chicago's South Side as a metaphor for our country today, a post-inaugural reminder, one of those stubborn facts of millions abandoned by the very democracy we celebrated on Tuesday.
Listening to this essay I was reminded once again why I am passionate about restorative justice and restorative practices in schools.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Today I want to share with you comments I received from a colleague in New Zealand about my recently-published article - Creating a School of Peace and Nonviolence in a Time of War and Violence. My colleague said:
Many thanks for a copy of your paper. Excellent observations in my view of the attitude to discipline and behaviour management in NZ schools – that is, discipline is the responsibility of someone other than the teacher who faces the problem.
I like your statement that schools struggle to balance accountability with compassion. From my experience, male secondary teachers do not exhibit too much compassion – I think they view this as showing weakness.
I believe this comment makes two important points - that compassion and accountability are not polar opposites; rather, the two ideas can work together in the process of healing the harm resulting from wrongdoing and conflict. And that compassion is not a sign of weakness; rather, comes out of strength and a unwavering belief in the dignity of every person as their birthright, which cannot be undone by their behavior nor the treatment of others.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
In America collaboration is often agenda driven. An individual has an agenda they want to accomplish and invites others to join in. However, this individual remains the dominant person in the relationship. The agenda determines the roles people have, rather than the relationships among people determining the agenda.
Living with Maori over an extended time has caused me to re-think my views about collaboration. And I wonder if perhaps a different word would be more appropriate for what we usually call collaboration in American - particularly since the meaning is lost cross-culturally.
Friday, January 9, 2009
However, I realize that not all people agree with me. Some believe that people are basically sinful and only something akin to a miracle can save us; that we only overcome this flawed nature through coercion, manipulation, or punishment. This belief is based on the work of Freud and his followers. In fact, our legal system is based on this idea.
If those of us who practice restorative justice focus solely or primarily on the pathology or deficit (what's wrong), we only confirm the person's inner conviction they are fundamentally flawed (bad) and ignore the part that is good, peace seeking, and relational. Thus, I suggest that our methods should favor growth and positive change from a strengths-based position.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
As a result I have adopted Appreciative Inquiry as a basis for my work with schools in a type of participatory action research. The three basic questions I ask school communities to answer is:
- What is going well?
- How would it look ideally?
- What steps can we begin to take now to move from where we are to where we want to be?
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I am impressed with both of these ideas because they go to the core of what my research shows - that is, that under the current systems of student discipline in schools we are treating students as passive receptors (of punishment). We are not building their capacity to solve problems nonviolently. So where do we think they will learn these important skills? And isn't knowing how to solve problems nonviolently (both individually and collectively) important for all of us to learn? For after all, if we do not know these important skills we tend to ignore the problem or expect someone else, usally an expert, to solve the problem for us. I believe we can and should take responsibility for building a more peaceful society by learning together how to respond to conflict and wrongdoing nonviolently.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
In this post 9/11 era Western cultures are focusing on values that support war and violence. In this article an ethnographer explores the impact of these values on schools. These values, seen through the lens of restorative justice, include: (a) punishment, (b) adversarial relationships, (c) monopolization of power, (d) problemization and professionalization, (e) prevalence of economic interests, (f) racism and privilege, and (g) imposition of the dominant culture. Based on his research, the author outlines how schools can create an alternative culture of peace and nonviolence grounded in the restorative justice based idea of peacemaking and focusing on: (a) building trust, (b) healing harms to relationships, (c) restoring dignity of persons affected, (d) respecting biculturalism/multiculturalism, (e) being aware of power differences, and (f) creating safety.
Friday, January 2, 2009
My latest book review will appear in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Comparative Social Welfare. That review is about a book titled Restorative Justice Across the East and the West, which is edited by Katherine Van Wormer. Professor Van Wormer is from the University of Northern Iowa and is an outstanding scholar in the field of restorative justice, particularly as related to social work. You can read that book review on my website at www.restorativejustice.com.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Secondly, I want to continue the work I started in New Zealand in the United States of America, learning together how we can build the capacity of young people to be peacemakers by creating a culture of care in schools. Rather then being treated as passive receptors of punishment and retribution, my research shows that we need to engage with our students in building our thinking and behavior around how we respond to wrongdoing and conflict, particularly in schools.