Conflict: Permanent Solutions Based on Creative, Radical Change

A bully is not a friend - at first.     From the book  "Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends?"

A bully is not a friend – at first. From the book “Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends?”

Yes, it’s tough to find an answer to  conflict.

At present, the goals to finding solutions to conflict range from ‘winning and domination’ to ‘reconciliation and unification’. Counselors in schools and businesses, diplomats and mediators at the national level attempt to defuse conflict with these methods.  But, do they solve it?

In the scenario of most conflict resolution, each opposing viewpoint gives up something until both sides are satisfied.  But, is this really resolution? If there is an underlying ‘simmer waiting to boil’ that wants one’s own viewpoint to ‘win’, then the conflict is only on the back burner. To truly dissolve a conflict,  a creative, radical approach must tempt both sides into a better,  so-far-unidentified, solution.

New geometry. The typical approach to mediation begins with a straight line with the opposing viewpoints at each end.  Each group/person gives up or modifies their viewpoint and moves toward the middle until each side is satisfied.  In the new approach, use a triangle. Write the goal above it.  Then, put each opposing viewpoint in a bottom corner.  Clearly identify each side’s viewpoints. Then, toss them out!  Work to find totally new viewpoints/solutions.  Wipe out any lingering preferences for the original conflicting viewpoints.

To consider the importance of radical changes in viewpoints, read Can Dragons and Frogs Be Friends?  The ‘soon-to-be dinner’ frog offers to help the dragon solve his problem.  This is radical change #1. He is not treating him as the enemy.  Then,  he deserts the other frogs to help the dragon. Radical change #2, the frog is willing to stand alone.

Next, is the frog’s persistent offers to help the dragon which equals radical change # 3. He is determined to help him at all costs.   This defies the usual interaction of dragons eating frogs.  Radical change #4 happens when the frog willingly ignores, then disproves, the ancient forest legend regarding the inevitability of conflict. It is often the history, the past, that straitjackets finding a solution.

These radical changes on the part of the frog disarm the dragon.   Recognizing the frog’s shift in attitude, the dragon shifts his perception of the frog and accepts his help. This is the dragon’s radical change #1. When a second dragon arrives on the scene and threatens to eat the frog, the first dragon defends and protects him – radical change #2. His defense is so thorough that the second dragon expresses gratitude toward the frog and does not eat him. That was definitely a radical change!

The success of this ‘higher viewpoint‘ mediation method is the willingness of everyone to completely give up the past – what others have said and done – and  then recognize and prove what is good and useful about the ‘enemy’.  This requires a lot of creative thinking and a true willingness to change.  It usually happens when both sides are about to wipe each other out.

I admit this approach appears to be based on the “love your enemy” concept. But, it is not. Loving the enemy as an enemy, still sees him as your enemy. It is the  gaining and holding a different viewpoint of him that causes the radical and positive change. This higher, better viewpoint is gained when the ‘enemy’ becomes a cohort, a friend, and someone worth knowing.  With that radical change, comes the creative solution to conflict.

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Children Need Camera Experience

A 1950’s Kodak was a black box camera with a plastic handle. Held in my hands at waist high I peered into the lens on the top, held still, and pressed the lever. Twelve pictures later, the roll of black and white film was dropped off at the camera shop, then anxiously waited for, and finally picked up a week later. Inside the white envelope with my name and address on the front, was a smaller packet with negatives and photos. At last! I considered the photo taking a success if three pictures looked good.


Brandon Christopher Warren / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Without a doubt, children benefit when photography is added to their repertoire of life skills.

Photography develops critical as well as creative thinking. To compose a scene, pose a person, consider the lighting, and pore over photography books for ideas requires thinking skills and unique perceptions.

How does photography affect children? It enhances whatever the child loves – from sports, to poetry, to pets, to fashion, to friends and family.  A photo collection makes that love ‘even better.’ Children become more observant which carries over to the details used in writing and in conversations. Independent thinking improves because picture taking goes beyond ‘shoot and snap’. It requires analysis for the ‘best’ angle; decision making for the lighting and shadows, and creative thinking for the tilt of someone’s head. With today’s cameras and camera phones, a child finds a world of color, shapes, and light to explore – and think about.

Are cameras for children? Absolutely!

VIGNETTES:

Photography became a natural part of my children’s lives that continues to enrich them even today. My son captures ‘snaps” small animals eating seeds, bread, and apples. Indoors, he tracks down spiders, researches their behavior, and creates photo stories. My daughter is the traveler. Getting up early to catch the morning light, she explores the cities and mountains. A snowstorm in NYC became a photo-op of a winter wonderland. Canvases on the wall of her home showcase her work.

Recently I created an album of beach pictures from Florida to California to the Gulf to Long Island. The final sand photo shows long shadows with my flip-flop toes and shadow next to my brother’s shadow. The album title is “I Am Happiest at the Beach”.

Building a Foundation for Creative Writing for Young Children

For the young child, who believes in tooth fairies, Santa Claus, and invisible friends, creative writing begins not with ideas but a clear and easy writing process. A writing process easily understood and repeated over time, allows them to tell the stories hidden in their imagination.

The following process has been used in first to fourth grade classrooms.

The Writing Process.

Choose a topic ahead of time and set out picture books, science books, and story books.  Encourage the children to look at them during the week before the writing activity.

On the first day, read a variety of passages from the books that provides ideas for writing.

Next, put an open-ended question on the board related to the passages you read. If the topic is ‘spring’, and you read passages about the coming of spring, it might be asked: “What happens in nature when spring arrives?”  List their answers as short sentences. ‘Squirrels leave their winter nests.’  ‘Leaves begin to unfold.’  ‘The air gets warmer.’   ‘Ice melts.’

After several sentences are recorded, provide opportunities for successful participation.  Ask, “Who will come up and point to the word ‘squirrels’?  ‘Who will read this sentence?’ At the height of excited involvement, stop.  Compliment them. (Save those sentences!)

The next day, begin with the children rereading the sentences. Have them add words to make the sentences more interesting. (See the blog article ‘Young Writers: Enriching Sentences’.  If you have done this  activity a few times, they will enrich the sentences easily. )

Introduce and define an opening and closing sentence.  Write an example of each. Identify a title. Perhaps have them identify a couple of titles. Make sure they are super familiar with the words. Compliment them.

 

For the next two days, let them write.  If they are just beginning, take it step by step.  Let those who can, go ahead of you.

“Everyone write down an opening sentence, either mine or one that you make up.”

“Choose and write three to four sentences that tell about the opening sentence.”

“Write a closing sentence, yours or mine.”

 

When there is time, let them share one of their favorite sentences.

On the final day, (For me, this was Friday.)  offer options that allow each child to finish their work, make it better, or illustrate it.

 

1. Finish your first draft.

2. Make a final copy.

3. Draw a picture(s).

4. Share your story with someone.

3. Read more in the reference books. Tell the class new ideas you found out.

 

As this process is repeated and becomes clear to each child, it builds a solid foundation. Over time, expand and enrich it. It is not static! It grows with you and your class.

Soon you will be reading the whimsical tales found in their imagination.