Restorative Discipline / Strength-Based Education
Restorative Discipline Philosophy and Practice
Restorative Discipline is an outgrowth of the Restorative Justice movement in the criminal justice system. In Restorative Justice, a harm done is viewed as breaking a relationship rather than breaking the law. The victim in the current justice system is the State while the person to whom the harm was actually done often has no voice in the proceedings. The community is also an integral dimension of Restorative Justice because the community has been diminished by the harm and it has a responsibility to restore the persons involved to the community.
The same concepts are applied to the classroom. Practices that are associated with Restorative Discipline include Victim Offender Conferencing and Community Group Conferencing. In the school, the community might include the class, representatives of the larger school community as well as family members of the person who has committed the harm, and the person harmed. The primary goals of Conferencing include: 1) to support the healing process of persons harmed and allow them to be directly involved in the process; 2) to give people who have done harm to others an opportunity to learn about the impact of their action and to take direct responsibility for their behavior; and 3) to provide the community a participatory role in the healing and restitution process. The concepts of restorative philosophy also can be applied informally in the classroom and school wide.
Outcomes or benefits of Restorative Discipline practice include, but are not limited to:
- all stakeholders having a voice in process,
- persons encouraged to become responsible and accountable without shame
- healing taking place, and
- strengthening of the school community
Unhealed wounds may lead to poor academics, bullying, drug use and other activity that harms community members.
Restorative Discipline as with Restorative Justice is not shame-based. It seeks to explore the strengths of a person so that self-esteem is enhanced. It provides opportunities for everyone involved to express themselves in a safe environment.