Dude v. Stooge

Each generation has its own unique catch phrases, dialect, and slang but when generational differences collide in business or even personal instances, conflict can occur.  Below is a true story, only names were changed:

Jack works a second job in the evenings to assist in supporting his family.  Jack was born in the era of The Andy Griffith Show, The Three Stooges, and Leave it to Beaver.  Jack’s supervisor, Todd, is twenty years younger than Jack.  He grew up jamming to eighties music, riding skateboards, and is a “cool dude.”

On Jack’s first day, Todd approached Jack to greet him saying “Hey dude.”

Jack was not sure how to take this and the more he thought about it the more it bothered him.  Time went by and Todd continued to refer to Jack as “dude” and Jack’s discontent continued to grow.  After several months passed, Todd sees Jack and greets him with his usual “Hey dude.”  On this day, however instead of Jack’s usual hello, Jack turns and responds to Todd by saying:

“Hey Stooge.”

Todd stood there dumb founded and asks “Stooge?”

“Yes, Stooge” Jack replied. “Like the Three Stooges.”

“I don’t think I like that” Todd replied.

“And I do not like being called dude” said Jack.

“I call all of my friends, dude” said Todd.

“And I call my friends Stooge” said Jack.

 

Todd realized that just as much as he detested being called stooge, Jack also disliked being referred to as dude.  Needless to say, neither one refers to the other as dude or stooge. 

It is important to recognize generational differences and to be cognizant of what dialect you are incorporating when communicating with others outside you generation.

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Peer Mediation Programs; A Must in Schools

As a mediator and parent, Conflict Resolution Skills are life skills and a vital part to a student’s emotional and social development. Whether the conflict be external or interpersonal, it is highly useful to be prepared to handle conflict in a productive manner.  Bully prevention and zero tolerance bullying policies are frequently mentioned in our public school systems, yet the support and emphasis of conflict resolution curriculum to uphold these expectations seem to falter.  We teach our children how to read, but they first must learn their ABC’s and similarly, if we expect students to comprehend bullying prevention then we must also guarantee they are prepared with conflict resolution skills and techniques.  By establishing a clear path to approaching conflict situations and providing students an opportunity to be stakeholders as peer mediators in resolving disputes, we create an opportunity for future generations to address conflict in a responsible and educated fashion.

Setting uniform expectation of approaching conflicts on campus allows for staff, teachers and students to have an understanding of what will happen when conflicts arise.  On the John Adams Middle School Campus, the peer mediation program inspired the use of the “I” message statement.   The “I” message is expressed as follows:

I feel_________

when you________

because_____________

and would like__________

This simple message was adopted not only by students utilizing the peer mediation program on campus, but began appearing on the front of teacher’s classrooms, in the counseling office, and even  the administration adopted this common language.  Although, this phenomenon occurred organically at John Adams, it is simple to see how easy it is to utilize.   If students, staff and teachers have an expectation that an “I” message is the first step in addressing conflict situations, all parties are vested with a mutual understanding, responsibility and expectation.  Formulating a curriculum based plan of action for the entire school community to address conflict shows the collective effort back up No Bullying Policies on campus.  Once expectations have been set; make sure proper support is given to uphold the expectation.  Provide students an opportunity to assist in the resolution processes through peer mediation programs.

Perhaps when a conflict or bullying issue arises, students may be given an alternative to administrative punishment, such as mediation.  The Center for Civic Mediation, a non-profit organization, currently is active and onsite in five Los Angeles County schools.  The peer mediation programs are established under the supervision of a Center staff member and volunteers in conjunction with school staff, administration and students.  A core group of students on a campus are recruited and undergo basic mediation training including conflict resolution skills and techniques.  These student mediators then co-mediate disputes among their own peers.  The foundations of the process being voluntary, the role of the co-mediators neutral nature in viewing the dispute and that what is discussed or agreed in the mediation is confidential, allows for open fluent conversations in a safe and meaningful way.  Students who are a party to a particular conflict are more open in sharing, discussing, and suggesting solutions with a peer mediator over an adult administrator.   Discussion as to why the incident occurred, how it should be handled, possible solutions and what will the situation look like if a similar occurrence is to happen.  Implementing a program on campus where students are positioned as stake holders and given the responsibility to assist their fellow students is resolving their own conflicts is truly amazing.  I think of how empowering it is for a student who is able to evaluate a conflict situation and handle it with confidence.  According to the Dean Hilbert of Carnegie Middle School, just in the programs first year suspensions were reduced by 67%.  Previously labeled “at risk” students have found a home in the peer mediation program and now are finding reward in assisting their fellow students through conflict resolution methods.  “I used to be a bully and pick fights at school, but learning peer mediation has changed my life.” Said one Center for Civic Mediation Peer Mediator.  Peer mediation works because students make agreements of how to resolve a particular conflict and design a unique and workable solution of their creation, not by being told what to do.

Whether it is adopting a peer mediation model on campus, having regular workshops for students and staff or creating activities that demonstrate effective communication in conflict situations, it is clear that emphasis on Conflict Resolution curriculum can translate in to more peaceful and cooperative school communities.   I think of so many tragedies that have occurred in American schools over the last fifteen years and can’t help but wonder if the outcomes would be the same if Conflict Resolution techniques and skills were more recognized as vitally important aspect of school curriculum.  Our students are our future leaders and if they can become ambassadors of peace, I can only imagine what a different world it would be.