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Working restoratively in schools: A guidebook for developing safe and connected learning communities

June 8, 2015

This book offers a valuable contribution in the field regarding the application of restorative justice theory in schools, sometimes called restorative practices, by providing educators will a simple and clear explanation of restorative justice theory as applied in schools and a detailed guide about how to apply that theory. This theory is largely based on the work of respected scholars in the field like John Braithwaite and Brenda Morrison and draws from other theories, such as William Glasser’s Choice Theory, Donald Nathanson’s Compass of Shame, and Daniel Goleman’s theory about Social Intelligence.

The purpose of this book is to provide a whole-school approach to implementing restorative justice processes and a resource to assist in implementing change in these schools. The conversation currently in the field centers on how to introduce restorative practices in schools. This book contributes to the field of restorative justice in education by providing a easy to understand guide for educators to apply the theory of restorative justice in schools. However, I was left questioning how the ideas presented in this book would build the capacity of students to solve problems non-violently and how those ideas would lead to the profound change in the culture of schools that is required to transform from being punitive and rules based to healing and collaborative.

….The critical element that is missing in this book is acknowledgement of the impact of disparities in education that affect restorative practices. Whether we are talking about Aboriginal people in Australia, Maori in New Zealand, First Nations people in Canada, or African-American, Latin/Hispanic, and Native American students in the United States, those of us working in the field of restorative practices in education are ethically obligated to acknowledge that our work is directly linked to the statistics of disparity that disproportionately affect students from these minority groups. We cannot ignore the cultural impact of our work and what we can learn from listening to the voices of these people from minority groups as we shape the discourses that are the foundation of our work.

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