Conflict resolution in schools provokes group dialogue and social problem solving through activities that include skits, circle discussions, and peer mediation under the close supervision of knowledgeable teachers. Peacemaking begins with conversation…children plan together…they develop a ritual and rules for the process…they work collaboratively to resolve conflicts.
In 1988 Downtown Alternative School (DAS) teachers including Joan Baer, Ann Lacey and Esther Fine began to explore collaborative approaches to conflict resolution and peacemaking with students from Kindergarten through Grade 3. Inspiration came from parents, children and a range of alternative forms of conflict resolution in schools and peer mediation that was being explored in San Francisco and elsewhere.
Films produced by Roberta King integrate current interviews and footage from the 1990’s feature documentary Life at School – The DAS Tapes. These films offer a deep look into Peacemaking through past and present-day lives of school children across a twenty-year period.
Esther Sokolov Fine, Garn Press, 2015, New York.
About the Book: Raising Peacemakers tells a twenty-two year story of kids growing up with peacemaking as their foundation. At Downtown Alternative School (DAS), a small public elementary school in Toronto, child-to-child conflicts were understood as opportunities. Children and adults worked hard to create a warm inclusive community where differing viewpoints and disagreements could be handled fairly and safely...
Animated Film Short: "The Peaceosaurus"
Following the initial year of Peacemaking at DAS (1988), four Grade 3 children (the first DAS Peacemakers) wrote a book called The Peaceosaurus.
Authors: Caitlin Burrell, Nathalie Herve-Azevedo, Diego Filmus, Dan Nyman. Graphic from a drawing by Katie Pandora-Syperek. Twenty-two years later, Barbara Taylor of Coyle Productions animated this unique story about how child Peacemakers coach a trouble-making dinosaur through steps of conflict resolution.
Playing the Bully
Available in full colour and black and white. It’s a short novel for young and middle-grade readers by Esther Sokolov Fine, Jim Head, produced and illustrated by Victoria Sheaham.
Playing the Bully is a chapter book for elementary age children. Text and illustrations work together to tell a poignant story about struggles that occur in and outside of school. Kids will find the book increasingly easy to read as they identify with characters who puzzle their way through mysterious notes, confront issues of exclusion and bullying, and gradually learn more about how to make better connections with one another. School is a place for children to figure out how to make their communities fair and safe. We hope this book contributes to that effort and helps young people engage in meaningful reading and discussions.