There are two schools: School A and School B.
School A has traditional discipline practices that include scolding the wrongdoer and even corporal punishment. School B, on the other hand, counsels the offender (student) and makes him or her realize how his actions can impact others. Besides, School B also encourages other students to help the offender resolve the conflict.
If any school is doing better in terms of reforming students, it has to be School B. Why?
This is because School B focuses on counseling, community building and promotes a sense of accountability, safety, and fairness rather than punishing the wrongdoer. This way, an offender is likely to realize how his or her action can impact others as well as his responsibility. Maybe he won’t repeat the mistake in the future.
This is what is called restorative practice.
I hope you must have got an idea of what restorative practice is all about.
Wikipedia defines restorative practices as a “social science that studies how to improve and repair relationships between people and communities. The purpose is to build healthy communities, increase social capital, decrease crime and antisocial behavior, repair harm, and restore relationships.”
Simply put, restorative practices aim to build social discipline through participatory learning and decision-making.
They are designed to empower students to learn from mistakes, to understand the impact, and develop personally in their ability to make more informed decisions and resolve issues. Restorative practices are all about encouraging a student to learn to resolve conflicts, take ownership, and involves in acts of forgiveness and empathy.
What is the Importance of Restorative Practices in Schools?
Today’s schools are plagued with unique issues caused by students’ attitudes and behavior. While bullying, mental abuse, and gang violence are common, shootouts in schools are adding to the woes. Traditional disciplinary methods such as suspension and corporal punishments have failed.
That’s why schools and teachers are constantly looking for new and effective ways to promote an environment of accountability, support, and safety to stop such problems. In this context, more and more schools are promoting and sometimes even making it compulsory to have restorative practices to replace punitive discipline.
Here are some key benefits of implementing restorative practices in schools:
Teachers who implement restorative practices learn that behavior in their classroom improves significantly. They develop better relationships with their students and therefore less stress from unresolved disputes.
Getting More Time for Teaching:
With restorative practices in place, students feel encouraged to admit their mistakes. Therefore, teachers can save a lot of time investing to find who did it.
However, if you have a punitive system, students are likely to deny their mistakes as they know that they will get punished.
Improving Outcomes for Students:
Studies show that implementing restorative practices encourage students to study. Punitive systems often terrorize the students and expel them from the classroom even for a minor mistake. However, with a restorative system, everyone works together to keep students in the classroom. Students who are suspended from school often end up in what education reform activists call the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
Restorative justice is required to stop this vicious cycle to keep students on track with their studies.
Focusing on the Root Causes:
Restorative practices make students figure out the reasons and impact of their actions. It addresses the impact caused by their mistake. When teachers or school authorities talk to the students, they learn about the problems they might have faced. Maybe there was maladjustment between parents, or they are being bullied. If you address the root cause of the problem, you can stop the cycle.
Promoting Real Life Skills:
Even if there are not big underlying issues, encouraging students to talk about what they did and why they did it is a more constructive way to deal with disciplinary issues. With a restorative process in place, students can learn how to deal with conflict in a positive way. It also helps them gain rational skills—to learn a situation, follow a process, and deal with it. These are some life skills that will be useful while dealing with the world outside the school.
What Does Restorative Practices Include?
Some of the common restorative practices are…
- Building Relationships
- Making students respectful to all
- Promoting Communication and Decision Making
- Involving Relevant Stakeholders
- Addressing harms, obligations, and requirements
- Encouraging all to take responsibility.
The Bottom Line:
Schools have realized that punishment is not the right way to reform a student. Instead of simply ordering corporal punishment or suspension, there is a need to teach students the kind of skills, backed by research, to help them improve their behavior.
That’s why schools are switching to restorative practices. In developing socially responsible students, they need to infuse critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and a sense of teamwork in each student. It can be achieved through their academic knowledge and their ability to engage successfully with others that will create a secure future for them and others. Restorative practices provide students with opportunities for moral action and creating a caring school community.
Therefore, schools should invest their efforts wisely.
What do you think? Let me know by commenting below!