Restorative Practice IS quite simple. It's something you've always done, you've just never called it RP. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, "it's about the relationship stupid". After a football training session for the local under 8's, where the coach had any amount of fancy drills, a boy was asked what his favourite part was. "When you complimented my tackle". KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid.
Restorative Practice IS NOT easy however (we often confuse things are simple with being easy in my experience). For example, our instinct when something bad happens is to punish someone. And, as the saying goes, "two wrongs don't make a right". When my children fight or argue, the easy thing to do is shout at them, but it achieves very little. The hard thing to do is find out what happened, how they were affected and what they need to do to make things better, but that achieves so much.
Restorative Practice IS giving the person who was hurt a say. Too often the person whose car is robbed or the pupil who is bullied gets no say at all in what needs to happen. Justice can't more focused on the person who causes the harm than the person to whom the harm was caused. You can and should aim to serve both.
Restorative Practice IS NOT something you learn in a day or a week (trust me I've looked for the shortcut and there is none). Admittedly some of us (not me mind you) are naturally restorative, the rest of us however have to work at it - hence the "practice" part in Restorative Practice.
Restorative Practice IS having courage - the courage for example to tell the facilitator (me) they made a mistake by not going back to them in the group when you promised you would. This took courage because you can see by them that this level of honesty is difficult for them.
Restorative Practice IS NOT making decisions about a young person (or any person for that matter) without involving them first. We all know what it's like to have decisions made about you when you are not asked. Even if it means you are unlikely to get your way, it's still better when we get the chance to voice our opinion.
Restorative Practice IS a group hug of 15 people for the morning circle that somehow takes the level of honesty one step deeper.
Restorative Practice IS NOT available in most schools yet or to most "victims" and "perpetrators" of crime - something that will hopefully change in the coming years. All of you reading this can play your part in speeding this up.
Restorative Practice IS your partner seeing the benefits of it with your kids, and then taking on the practice of it herself (and then doing it better than you!! OMG!!)
Restorative Practice IS NOT perfect. It doesn't make the challenge of teaching or parenting go away. Then again it doesn't have to be perfect. It just needs to be better than the alternative, i.e. pure punishment, which it is. As the Americans say "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough".
Restorative Practice IS listening - pure and simple (there we go again, simple but hard to do)
Restorative Practice IS NOT going to be as difficult as you think if you focus on just one thing at a time. Enjoy the discovery of that one thing and reward yourself for improving in that one thing. Take on too much and you'll give up faster than that gym membership in January.
Restorative Practice IS a manager trusting you to go off to do whatever you think is going to work at the job - scary at first but thereafter quite liberating. Trust your people, your kids, your students more.
Restorative Practice IS NOT going to work everytime, or in every class. But it's still better that you can say "they were given the opportunity". It is voluntary also. Always remember that too.
Restorative Practice IS doing things WITH as opposed TO or FOR people.
Restorative Practice IS NOT complicated (even it's taken 700 words in this blog to define it) - it's still about relationships
That's Restorative Practice
My name is Joe Power and I am the RP development officer for Limerick. I thought I would write about my experiences in developing my own understanding of RP, as well as in trying to spread it across Limerick. The reason for this is that I find that both my own 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.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.