NonViolent Communication – Summary/Wrap Up

This summer I studied the use of nonviolent communication in youth educational programming. My personal experiences in the classroom as a teacher and interviews with Bosnian educators, volunteers, and NGO leaders provided a background in the micro-level analysis. Academic literature was the basis for macro-level research.
In both my personal experiences and academic literature I looked for themes of education issues in Bosnia since the war. My research found that educational programming in Bosnia has faced many obstacles since the war. It is divided into a variety of ministries without a common curriculum or teaching standard. It has yet to address cultural issues in classroom curriculum. Education around the world is plagued with issues – but underpaid teachers, culturally-sensitive curriculum, and segregation are three issues that I have found in both the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Academic articles and past studies on nonviolent communication showed ways to incorporate nonviolent themes into curriculum, as well as how to use NVC specific language in the classroom. I compiled a report of various games, curriculum themes, classroom management procedures that facilitated positive connections between teachers and students, and student to student.
Further research showed how schools can function as a place to build communities. Schools are where an exchange of ideas can occur to create the next generation of students with cross-cultural ties. This is the first step in building inclusive social capital, which can then create political capital and clout with the government. Currently, the Bosnian government is ranked by Freedom House as having a corruption ranking of 4.25 (1 being democratic and 7 the worst corrupt).
Generally, my interviews with teachers-in-training showed that many Bosnians did not hold this view of education as a place for people of different cultures to come together. Generally, they were not optimistic in education’s ability to be a major factor in peace-building efforts. NGO’s such as OSCE, however, were more up front about dealing with general social issues through educational initiatives that would promote peace-building. Smaller groups of volunteers such as the William & Mary Bosnia Project volunteers had both the freedom and belief in the system to incorporate non-violent communication and themes into educational programming.
Aside from general techniques, I also took a specific look at the language of nonviolent communication in the classroom. Language is a key tool in facilitating a communication process between teachers and students that fosters positive interactions and promotes learning. Additionally, teachers constantly deal with behavior problems and must correct these behaviors before they get too disruptive or aggressive. The research pinpointed certain linguistic indicators of what non-violent language looks and sounds like.
In conclusion, my research found various ties between classroom interactions, curriculum, educational policy and their influence on building a peaceful community. Themes of nonviolent communication can be incorporated into education in various ways, at every grade level.

Wrapping up Research

One of the most difficult parts about writing the final report on my project has been there are so many aspects to it! There is the teacher to student communication side, there is student to student, there is linguistics, there is educational policy, there is cultural classroom protocol – all of these tie into what I learned in Bosnia this summer. In my attempts to capsulate my research and experience, I will focus on what will be most helpful to a future teacher/tutor entering a similar classroom setting – one of cultural diversity. I hope this report will be a resource for tutors in the Williamsburg community as well as the future Bosnia Project volunteers.

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Learning from Partners

One of my greatest research resources has been my coteacher in my Bosnian classroom – the students from the University of Sarajevo. Our relationship with our co-teachers has had its share of communication issues, but we see them every day and have a fun working relationship as well as friendship. We have so much fun with our co-teachers that sometimes it is hard to concentrate on work together – and also, with the culture more focused on human interaction than work, the co-teachers are rarely the ones to initiate the planning. From these relationships I am learning more about how Bosnian education culture is different than the United States. Even seeing their struggles with their college professors makes me reflect differently on my own interactions and experiences at college that I have left unexamined. I take for granted the good and the bad because I forget there may be other ways. Working with the co-teachers has been an eye-opening experience into the different styles of education in the world and how this can have ripple effects on the workforce, the social and political attitudes, etc.

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Linguistic Aspects of NVC

Nonviolent communication faces its own linguistic challenges in what to call itself and how those terms relate to older and current research terms. Confusion between the specific NVC model, non-violent communication as a concept, and other related topics such as conflict resolution, can all create different shadings of words that are interpreted differently. Additionally, the term “violence” is often associated with physical violence rather than recognizing the ability of words to create atmospheres that hurt mentally and can lead to this physical violence. [Read more…]

International Education

Education is my “issue of choice” – if you want to call it that – because in incorporates so many social issues into one. You can’t talk about improving education without addressing community infrastructure (which can affect transportation to and from school), health and hunger (school lunch programs, lack of nutrition at home affecting school performance), social justice (segregation in schools), and a wide array of other socio-economic-political issues. Education is the starting and ending point of many of these dynamics. Schools are the place where an exchange of people and ideas can come together to create a better community; hey are the safe-havens of former war zones. Education is the barrier and the gateway to a better life.

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