A know-how of ACBM – All in the Class Become Mediators

There is an area in public school syllabi around the world where there is a welcoming space of 4 lectures with ACBM: vernacular language. It is recognised that if we deal with topics which involve the students’ self-interest we mobilise the involvement of students. Conflicts amongst peers is an area of great interest.

The programme ACBM has 4 steps:
1. Essay-writing "How to solve conflicts?"
At all age levels where students can master writing essays, they can be given the theme "How to solve conflicts?"
2. Class discussions about solutions proposed in the essays.
The essays are discussed in the class. The teacher reinforces good answers but avoids, to begin with preaching own rules. The ideas for solutions are sorted into three categories (1) violence, (2) withdrawal and (3) discussions to find a shared solution. A consensus for the desirability of the third alternative is reached. A central problem is recognised: "It is difficult to discuss calmly during a conflict". A solution is found: to use a mediator.

3. Reading and discussing a small leaflet giving the guide-lines of therapeutic mediation
“Do you want to play mediation?” the teacher asks the class. Usually, the answer is very positive. (If not, the project stops this time.) “But before we play, we need a short study of guidelines of mediation”, the teacher says. As the interest in role-plays is great, the students are willing to read guidelines in an 8 page A5 leaflet.

The 8-page A-4 leaflet I wrote in Swedish in 2001 has not yet translated into English. If you are a SCm-user, please write me anatol@pikas.se and we can see how a translation can be made.

Abstract of the leaflet describing therapeutic mediation: A good mediator listens with interest to the views of parties in separate talks and in a relaxed atmosphere. When mutual confidence is achieved, the mediator asks (in a friendly way) about his suggestion which the other side (not yet present) could also accept. If such a proposal for a shared solution is not found, the mediator concedes failure that time. But usually he can elicit constructive proposals so that the final phase – the summit meeting between the parties – can take place.

But as all of us know, instruction books have to be discussed, so have  such a discussions after the pupils’ reading.
4. Role-plays of therapeutic mediation
Playing of therapeutic mediation follows the directions of leaflet and coincide with the principles explained at the present home-site. I recommend to start playing after a story described on 10-20 lines, edited by the teacher from their essays. The class proposes a mediator and the parties in conflict. All study the conflict story. The first play with all its phases are performed while the rest of the class is the audience. The teacher directs firmly the play but all spectators can call "Freeze!". Then the play stops and the person who had stopped it presents a better solution that is discussed by the spectators. The person playing therapeutic mediator decides whether he or she follows the advice given.

A week or two after the role-plays, a new essay-writing opportunity is arranged. The students are encouraged to write again about conflict resolution and discuss the role of mediator and their own possible attempts at mediating which they have made.

Already in 2002 I wrote a teacher manual in English (after having performed ACBM in an English-speaking class in Uppsala). I consider it today as too fussy. But it could be used by some SCm-practitioner as a basis to do a better work: