What is it about fairness? "It's not fair" is practically the catchphrase of every four year old in the world. 'Equal pay for equal work' is a calling cry for minority groups the world over. All thirteen major religions have some variation of the Golden Rule written into their codes, i.e. do onto others as you would have them do onto you (or a variation thereof). We just hate it when things are unequal. Scientists have even discovered that this innate desire for fairness extends into the animal world. Check out this video clip of two monkeys at work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KSryJXDpZo I hope that researcher started balancing the books (or grapes as the case may be) after that, or she was about to have a jail break on her hands. Everyone hates unfairness!
I have three children under 10 and they know what's fair. "He got two coins and I only got one... why did the tooth fairy bring him €5... she's not going to mass, why am I?... they got two stories and I only got one... he only cleaned seven things... it's my turn to be on the outside seat/first in the bath/sleep on the top bunk/sit on the beanbag/ride on the go-kart/etc... Granny took him to the shop last time... she got two cartoons and (you get the gist by now)..." Survive a week with three children without any major meltdowns and you're likely to find the United Nations security council a breeze. Of course, that assumes you're well versed in the 3 E's of Fair Process (go on, try to name them without reading further). I don't know how many other psychologies or life philosophies enacted the three E's (for the record they're Engagement, Explanation and Expectation Clarity) but, safe to say, Restorative Practices knew they were on to a good thing with them. You see being fair doesn't always mean being equal. "Why is she allowed a tablet and I'm not (because she's 9 and you're 5 and you can have one when you are her age)". But it does mean explaining the difference between fair and equal and allowing people an expectation of when they can get whatever it is they're looking for. And, if you're ever struggling to know yourself what's fair or not, engage with the people you are dealing with. One of the great beauties of Restorative Practice is we don't have to come up with all the solutions all the time. And if you're still struggling after that, well, maybe you need to ask a monkey because even they know at this stage.
My name is Joe Power and I am the restorative practice development officer in Limerick since May 2018. I first came to RP in 2016 when it was introduced to the residential centre where I also work. I thought I would start to write a little about my experiences in developing both my own understanding of RP, as well as my experiences in trying to spread RP across Limerick. The reason for this is that I find that both my and other people's experiences are remarkably similar and there could well be some opportunity for other's to benefit from these thoughts (or ramblings!!). Anyway I hope you gain something from it. Also please e-mail any thoughts/comments/stories you might have to me at email@example.com. Thank you.