Conflict and forgiveness

Lesson powerpoint here

Student experience of conflict.

  • Students in groups of 3 or 4. Ask them to write down examples of how they come in to conflict with others: peers, family, teachers.
  • Ask students to identify what causes the conflict, what form the conflict takes (argument, fist fight etc) and how (if at all) it is resolved.
  • Feed back examples to class as a whole. What are the main strategies that students have for resolving conflict? Do they work (in other words, does the conflict go away)?


  • One of the main reasons that attempts to resolve conflict actually escalate the conflict, is that people attack the person, rather than what the person has done e.g. “you’re such a ****” rather than “you didn’t take out the rubbish, like you promised.” Another mistake is to make sweeping statements like “you are always doing this” or “you never do what I ask.” Another reason is to try to make the person feel bad for doing wrong, rather than work together for a solution.
    One solution to these mistakes, is to use the DEAL method of resolving a conflict. The 4 steps are: 1. Describe what has happened; 2. Explain how it makes you feel; 3. Ask for a change in behaviour; 4. List the benefits the change will bring to your relationship. Of course, for this to work, you need to hear the other side and be prepared to come to a compromise.
  • Ask students to role play the DEAL technique with one of the 6 sources of conflict on the slides.

Restorative approaches and forgiveness.

  • Play students the video looking at restorative practices and forgiveness in Northern Ireland.
  • Ask students what they think of Gerry Adams’ meeting with Alan McBride. What is different about this conversation? Could they do what Alan McBride has done?
  • Ask students to look again at the 6 sources of conflict in groups of 3 (or 4). Ask them to role play using a restorative approach, where one person plays the victim, one person the offender and one person the ‘facilitator’ of the restorative conversation. Ask them to work through the restorative questions on the slide.
  • What do students think about taking restorative approaches to resolving conflict? Could it work with very serious crimes/harm like rape or murder? (It does and perhaps they could research examples on the internet, e.g. the truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa or the restorative meetings after the genocide in Rwanda).

Prep: ask students to attempt to resolve a conflict using the methods they have encountered this lesson and write about their experiences.