I just got finished reading the journals of students from my 7th Grade Process Drama: Bullying. The students had been asked to write a journal entry, after each session, in the voice of the character they have been portraying. The classes were split into five factions: the Bullies; the Bullied Kids; the parents of the Bullies; the parents of the Bullied Kids; and members of the school (Principal, Guidance Counselors, and Teachers).
The setting is a 1950′s small community that has been plagued by a group of student bullies. In the storyline, one of the bullies went too far by threatening another student’s life. The storyline began with the information being presented, then moved to the school for a group discussion.
I did not ask for permission to quote from any of the journal work, as it was not my original intention to write about this. I will not break their trust, but I will ask them the next time I see them if I can.
Reading the journals really was an amazing experience. They took the assignment very seriously, each and everyone that I have in my temporary possession. The comments range from the unfairness of the bullies, how they go out of their way to hurt and frighten, to the parents who are just as frightened to just pure outrage. Disassociation from owning their actions was prevalent on all sides. The school members journals were studies in how they feel an adult, in that position, should be: everything was black or white, with very little looking at perceptions of who is good and who is bad.
When it came to problem solving, though, as I mentioned in yesterday’s essay, the effort to discuss and dialogue the problem was the prevalent answer. Only a few felt that incarceration of any type was the answer. Talking, making connections with all sides, working things out instead of just punishment or separation…for me, I was pleased. Without even the prompt of No Violence, they had the maturity to go to a more peaceful, potentially longer lasting solution.
Next Monday is my last session with these classes. I am sad that it is coming to an end but I am so impressed with them and the quality of their critical thinking skills and how they can perceive a problem that they will encounter, sadly, in many areas of their lives.
Next week: final reflections.