Using Tanakh as a tool for creating conflict resolution curricula for schools

Tehilla Goldberg

In recent years the increasing tension in schools has fueled interest in conflict resolution as a growing movement in the educational community. Conflict resolution curricula are becoming an important tool for teachers. These curricula, often taught in informal interactive workshop type of atmospheres, help empower both educators and students alike with concrete problem solving skills.

This ATID project attempts to explore, and cull from Torah, educational information about conflict resolution that can be used as tools in the classroom. The project highlights three dimensions of conflict.

  • Division and Choice. This section explores a model of conflict with three progressive phases. It focuses on Cain and Abel, Abraham and Lot, Jacob and Esau. Additionally, it incorporates King Solomonís famous edict of dividing a baby as well as an example of division from rabbinic sources regarding two people who claim ownership of a talit and the court decrees the talit should be divided.

  • This section focuses on preparation toward confrontation. Jacobís struggle with the angel prior to his confrontation with Esau is explored as a paradigm for self scrutiny and transformation. This is an essential step towards effective confrontation.

  • Aaron the high priest, a famous paradigm of peacemaking in Jewish tradition, is analyzed as an educational role model.

The goal of the project is to re-perceive and expand the definition of conflict resolution curricula. The project will sow the seeds for expanding and developing these curricula from strictly secular sources to integrating contemporary conflict resolution technique with traditional Torah studies. This paper could serve as jumping points or outlines, for educators interested in teaching conflict resolution through the prism of Torah. The study of conflict resolution encompasses many fields. Course and training materials typically draw from psychology, law, communication, sociology, and anthropology. The author believes that a powerful resource and tool for conflict resolution curriculum development is found in Torah itself.


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