and Learning in Circle
(Page 7 of 9)
Beyond the Classroom: Circles and Peacemaking in the School
its January 2002 Newsletter, Catholic School Management
identifies four "characteristics of a non-violent Christian
Community." They are:
for ourselves, for others and for our relationship to
all of creation.
active listening for the sake of learning, of hearing
another point of view.
recognizing and acknowledging the differences…among
and Creative Problem Solving: Confronting oppression in
all its forms (including name-calling, teasing, insulting,
disrespectful behavior, etc. as passive forms of violence)
and doing it in a grace-full way.
foster all of these values. At Mount Saint Joseph Academy
we have begun to use the Circle Process in other aspects
of School Life:
May of 2002 a significant part of the "rising senior"
retreat was done in Circle. The day began and ended in full
circle as the class explored their personal gifts and the
gifts they offered the school community. In smaller circles
they explored two of the "Four Agreements."
have also begun to use the Circle process for conflict resolution.
In the 2001/2002 academic year four seniors went through
the training at ROCA and facilitated seven Circles of Understanding
to attempt to help students resolve interpersonal difficulty.
following is a quote from one of these four seniors.
had the privilege of being trained in conducting a circle
last October so I can say a little about running them
too. This process isn’t just a seating arrangement.
It is a difficult task to undertake because it takes such
an immense amount of effort and time to come to a conclusion
by following the rules of the circle. It also requires
a specific type of person to run them. They need to be
incredibly patient and infinitely wise. They need to be
open to new ideas, free of all prejudice, and extremely
understanding. I tried to run some circles and found it
frustrating and draining at times because the participants
kept reverting back to negative behaviors that they have
acquired. Speaking out of turn and harshly toward the
other people in the group were common mistakes, but when
they listened and took turns they were empowered to resolve
if the world were to be run using this process, crime
rates would fall dramatically and there would be elimination
of war. It is a powerful tool and should be utilized.
(Student evaluation, June 2002)
a "healing circle" or "circle of understanding"
disputants move toward reconciliation, empowered by active
listening, from advocacy to inquiry. In every one of the
Circles the participants have reported satisfaction and,
surprise at how well it has worked. This doesn’t mean
that all of the Circles brought about a resolution of the
issues that caused the harm – but at least the participants
felt that they got to speak and that they were listened
taught forty juniors last semester. At the end of the semester
I presented the opportunity to attend four days of Circle
Training at ROCA. Those who completed the training would
be the core team for conflict resolution for next year.
Twenty-seven of the forty applied for the training. Three
were chosen and completed the training in July. We hope
to get several more of them into trainings during the school
we move the Circle process out of one classroom and into
other aspects of school life we begin to impact the entire
system – moving toward shared vision and the development
of a complete learning community.
project of Campus Conflict Resolution
Supported by a FIPSE grant from the US Department of Education
and seed money from the Hewlett Foundation-funded CRInfo
to CMHE Report
(Attn: Bill Warters)
Campus Conflict Resolution Resources Project
Department of Communication
585 Manoogian Hall
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48201.
send comments, bug reports, etc. to the Editor.
© 2000-2005 William C. Warters & WSU,
All rights reserved.