We want to be like Yoda

Why would RJ Working, a Cornwall-based not-for-profit organisation, dare to aspire to be like one of the greatest movie icons of all time?

Q: Why would RJ Working, a Cornwall-based not-for-profit organisation, dare to aspire to be like one of the greatest movie icons of all time?    

A: We recognise that the young people we work with, and the adults who support them, are often everyday heroes, showing courage and determination in the face of huge challenges.  In coaching their leadership, we are often privileged to be their trusted guide, as little Yoda is for the heroes in the Star Wars movies.

Restorative Practice aims high and holds the power to equip a whole generation of youngsters with language and principles for creating a fairer, more compassionate world.  We know they can collectively develop the confidence to deal well with harm and conflict (which are inevitable) and grow a community culture in which Restorative responses are expected and normal.

To explain: Restorative Justice is achieved through safe, supported and voluntary communication between the parties involved in a harmful incident or conflict, for the purpose of repair and recovery.  Restorative Practice involves building relationships based on mutual respect and shared responsibility for preventing harm and conflict and dealing with these well when they arise.  

In the Star Wars movies, Yoda is known for the huge gravity of his comments, and also for keeping them brief. This is one of the key qualities of a Restorative Practitioner of any age, since their focus is on the people being supported. So what would Yoda make of all this? Here are some of his most important statements, together with a little explanation of connections with Restorative Practice:

Yoda speaks of war to discuss the problems created by a win/lose mentality:

Wars not make one great…In war, a danger there is, of losing who we are.”

 A master of balance and complex truths, he is interested in self-discipline and a sense of choice – even when situations seem impossible. 

Very often, in an incident of harm, people are invited to make a quick judgement about right and wrong, but Yoda says, “So certain were you. Go back and closer you must look.”

Yoda’s challenge to his apprentice applies to many of us reacting too quickly and causing harm whether by accident or deliberately:

Control, control, you must learn control!”

This also often applies to the person who has been harmed who, with quality support, can learn to step forward and take up their own power to create a new outcome.  We find that one of the greatest motivations to participate in a Restorative Justice Meeting is that the outcome so far does not have to be the end of the story.  As Yoda says, Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future…

We want to support students to take Restorative Practice forward in their school community. Yoda says, “Mind what you have learned. Save you it can” and “Always pass on what you have learned”. We facilitate students to make their own plans for supporting younger people than themselves; they teach, consolidate their skill, and pass on their learning to better their whole community.

For adults working in authoritarian school environments we would encourage consideration of Yoda’s challenge:

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

Restorative Practice is not about staff giving up their authority but is about them using it differently – the subject of our next blog.  We know that adults working in schools are faced with huge challenges, including supporting the mental health of their students.  Yoda’s insight here is that Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering”. Often if students’ fears can be clarified and addressed, more peaceful classroom relationships can be achieved.

Above all, Yoda speaks of commitment to self and others: “Do or do not, there is no try”.

RJ Working is a small organisation with huge aspirations and we take heart from Yoda’s question:

Judge me by my size, do you?”

His words are also a great reminder not to judge anyone by their age or size.  We are always learning from the children and young people we work with, their curiosity, questions and wisdom: Yoda says Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is”.  The field of Restorative Practice stretches back to ancient Maori culture in New Zealand and we believe has a long future ahead, contributing to international diplomacy as well as playground conflicts.  The Yoda comment that fits this long-term path is:

“When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not”

Like him, the field of Restorative Practice is looking great at this point in its evolution. 

 Deborah Mitchell, RJ Working

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image credit: https://www.starwars.com/databank/yoda

RJ Working and Covid 19

Update 20th March

Thank you for visiting our site. Following government advice, we have suspended all of our activities in schools and colleges as of this week. We are continuing other work online, such as training programmes with adults, and will seek creative ways of remaining active throughout the coming weeks.

The team are working away from the office and working to find ways of supporting communities, schools, colleges and other partners to navigate the challenge of Covid 19 in a restorative way. We’ll remain ‘live’ on all platforms: follow us on Facebook and Twitter and please do email us with any enquiries you may have. If you have not already done so, join our mailing list here in order to receive direct offers for forthcoming programmes and news.

Take good care and we look forward to finding new connections in these difficult times.

The RJ Working team.

Schools’ Environment Conference – Autumn 2019

Read more here as linked in our Spring newsletter! Josh Rogers, lead for Climate Education and West Cornwall, attended this inspirational event in the Autumn term:

In late October, the University of Exeter hosted an inspiring conference for young people from all over Cornwall with students from more than 20 secondary schools, including Woodstock Day School from NYC. It was immensely exciting to see so many students from so many different schools coming together with such a wide understanding of the issues we face and how to collectively progress.

 

The day started with compelling speakers from Primary through to Masters Undergraduate with speeches from Rafi, Tamani, Eva, Bella, Francis and Woodstock Day School students providing an holistic vision of where young people feel that we are amongst climate crisis right now, and how they can see ways for us to move forward societally and globally. 

Students were then asked to provide their top concerns around Climate Change. These were then voted on and returned as our top three points of focus:

1: People accepting that Climate Crisis exists but refusing to do anything about it. 

2: The Fossil Fuel industry.

3: The Meat and Dairy Industry.

 

Professor Stephan Harrison of Exeter University followed with a presentation looking at high level science and the forecast for climate on our current trajectory. Manda Brookman from Permanently Brilliant then discussed the need for campaigning and being rebellious in a time of crisis, followed by an opportunity for questions. 

 

The day then saw schools split participants into four groups which travelled around the campus to participate in workshops around Renewable Energy, Textiles, Food Security, Climate Justice, The Green Charter for schools and a Question Time style panel sitting with Prof. Stephan Harrison, Manda Brookman, Cllr Edwina Hanneford (Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and Neighbourhoods, Cornwall Council) and Janine Bisson (STEM – Project Co-ordinator Education Business Partner, Cornwall Council).

 

To round up the day all of the schools came back together for a positive speech from Tim Osborne (Service Director for Education, Cornwall Council) and looking again at the three priorities decided upon earlier in the day, which remained strongly agreed upon. 

 

RJ Working were able to attend the entire day, providing a voice for the role of restorative practice within our communities as we face the harms resulting from the global climate crisis, both ecologically and interpersonally. The desperate need for Climate Justice along with ever more Social Justice as a result of climate emergency will be a strong point of focus within our work with young people from West Cornish schools in creating a youth-led conference scheduled to take place in March of 2020.

 

Formalising our primary activities

On 22nd November, the Board of Directors for RJ Working Community Interest Company passed a special resolution to expand our formal organisational objectives, as stated in our defining document, our ‘Articles of Association’. 

Further to our central purpose of building community using Ulster University’s Balanced Model of Restorative Practice, since 2017 we have additionally focused on supporting the development of school communities. The Board of Directors have formally confirmed our activities:

– Serve the advancement of human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation, and promote equality and diversity. This includes promoting restorative justice for the public benefit as a means of resolving conflict and promoting reconciliation. 

– Serve the advancement of education, especially in the use of both restorative justice for specific matters and the wider application of restorative approaches in schools and colleges. 

Alongside the capturing of this specific expertise our Board also changed our asset lock beneficiary to Cornwall Community Foundation. We now await confirmation from the Regulator of Community Interest Companies.