Thursday, December 10, 2009

Consequences and our notions of justice

I came across an interesting study the other day. The study collected stories involving justice issues - what happened and how things were handled.

The study then asked the contributors to tag their stories in terms of the extent to which they were about
1. Retribution (on behalf of the victim???)
2. Deterrence of the offender and others from repeating the offence
3. Restoration of the offender

Lots of food for thought here I think.

I suspect a lot of the use of 'logical' consequences in schools is
  - about retribution
  - justified as a deterrent
  - with an implied 'logical' outcome of 'restoration' of the offender 

Of course, our responses are shaped by
  - the significance of what happened, and 
  - the offender's response.

And, what we believe others would expect of us is also very powerful. I continue to be amazed at how little awareness many people (not just teachers) have regarding the natural consequences of doing the wrong thing. It is common for the natural consequences to be underestimated or simply disregarded.

Doing the wrong thing is very bad for the offender (Glasser was strong on this).

IMHO, one of the most common reasons kids continue to be difficult after doing the wrong thing is that
  - they are embarrassed  - the know they have done the wrong thing and wish they hadn't, and 
  - they feel disempowered - it can't be undone, and they don't know how to fix it up.

So to save face they get into denial, blaming, justifying.... It is a very painful to lose face - something I never required of a student. Maybe Restorative Practices is as much about restoring the offender's face as it is about restoring relationships.

After all, face is very much the key element in all relationships.

No comments: