In what ways do people compromise in their everyday lives so that they can get along with each other? What are the ways that society has devised for people to learn to compromise, or come to an agreement?
Step 1: Analyzing Reflection Prompt (20 min)
Direct students to the eighth (8) paragraph of the Reflection. This paragraph has three (3) sentences. Have the students read this brief paragraph and then go back over it, highlighting and focusing on the words: secession, violence, separation, compromise, progress, awareness, perspectives. On a piece of paper, have the students write their own definitions (connotation) of each of these terms. If they are not sure of a definition, tell them to infer or guess, or just leave it blank. These do not need to be complete sentences. Then, as a class, discuss the definitions of each of the words creating a class-definition for each word. You may want to refer to the dictionary to clarify. Have them write the class-definitions on that same piece of paper. Share the Reflection Prompt (above) that will be the basis for this Learning Activity and tell the students that this will be the basis for this activity which focuses on those words that they discussed, especially the word “compromise.”
Step 2: Reading about Sudan Analyzing for Tone (Individual Analysis and Group Discussion) (30 min)
Students will read an article on Darfur and the war in Sudan that appears below on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website. (http://www.ushmm.org/genocide/take_action/atrisk/region/sudan/legacy). Students will both learn about the conflict and analyze the text to discern the tone(s) used in the essay. Ask students to think about how the tone one uses when discussing an important issue impacts how one feels about the issue. Instruct students that tone in literature is often defined as “the overall feeling or effect created by a writer’s use of words.”
Students will read the article and, referring to the tone chart attached or your own chart or list, note different tones used throughout the text. As students read, they should note the different tones. When each student has finished reading the text, s/he should decide on the overall tone. The class can then discuss and decide together what tone word best describes the article.
Threats to civilian populations throughout Sudan continue today. For recent updates, see the Current Situation. http://www.ushmm.org/genocide/take_action/blog/?cat=11
A continuing crisis: trauma and displacement in Darfur
Large segments of the Darfurian population are traumatized by the experience of losing family members, homes, communities, and livelihoods. Those who survived attacks, particularly women who were raped, suffer long-term physical and emotional effects of the violence. And the violence in Darfur continues.
In Darfur, the pattern of violence shifted after 2005 when millions of Fur, Zaghawa, and Masalit civilians were displaced by large-scale government and Janjaweed offensives. New groups have settled in lands cleared of their former populations. Many of the more than 2 million displaced now live in enormous refugee camp "cities," where they face harassment and abuse by government authorities.
The crisis in Darfur impacted not only the groups initially targeted, but additional groups inside Darfur and neighboring Chad. Inside Darfur, patterns of violence reflect political, tribal, economic, and criminal interests. Civilians continue to be displaced and suffer attacks that often take the form of robbery, rape, and murder. And beginning in 2004, rebel groups launched a series of attacks against their government. Chad and Sudan traded accusations of supporting rebel forces in each other's countries.
Inside Darfur, violence continues with a wider array of perpetrators.
Many of Darfur's Arab tribes tried to remain neutral during the early years of the conflict. They were neither targeted by nor did they join the government and Janjaweed, but as the conflict continued, some became victims of generalized violence and were displaced. The armed rebel movements have also splintered several times and committed acts of violence against civilians.
Changing the borders: the new country of South Sudan
The war between the north and south officially ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. After an interim during which unity was supposed to have been made attractive to southerners, the south was guaranteed the right to vote in a referendum on independence. This vote was carried out in January 2011 resulting in a resounding endorsement for separating from Sudan. On July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan declared its independence.
Despite this momentous change, the fates of both countries remained tied together. They share not only a history, but also interests in a number of cross-border issues, including trade, migration, and resource development (such as oil). The two countries must find a way to respect each other’s sovereignty and peacefully negotiate their relations. Because of the long history of violence and fears of ongoing interference, southerners greatly distrust their northern neighbors.
In addition to conflict in Darfur, there are many disaffected groups in areas of the north who fought with Southern forces, but remain in Sudan after the south declared its independence: in South Kordofan, where violence is already occurring, and in Blue Nile.
Step 3: Learning about Mediation (Small Group and Class Discussion) (10-20 min)
Distribute a copy of the Mediation handout to students and read together. As you read, ask students to clarify points and to provide examples from their own experiences, if possible.
This handout was written by Mediation Works and is available at http://www.mediation-works.org/pg4.cfm.
Choose a Good Time and Plan Ahead
Plan to talk to the other person at the right time and allow yourselves enough time for a thorough discussion. Don't start talking about the conflict just as the other person is leaving for work, after you have had a terrible day, or right before you have to make dinner. Try to talk in a quiet place where you can both be comfortable and undisturbed for as long as the discussion lasts. Think about what you want to say ahead of time. State clearly what the problem is and how it affects you.
Assuming that there is no threat of physical violence, talk directly to the person with whom you have the problem. Direct conversation is more effective than sending a letter, banging on the wall, throwing a rock or complaining to everyone else.
Don't Blame or Call Names
Antagonizing the other person only makes it harder for him or her to hear you. Don't blame the other person for everything or begin the conversation with your opinion of what should be done.
Don't interpret the other person's behavior: "You are blocking my driveway on purpose just to make me mad!" Instead, give information about your own feelings: "When your car blocks my driveway, I get angry because I can't get to work on time."
Listen and Show It
Give the other person a chance to tell his or her side of the conflict completely. Relax and listen. Try to learn how the other person feels. And although you may not agree with what is being said, tell the other person that you hear him or her and are glad that you are discussing the problem together.
Talk It All Through
Once you start, get all of the issues and feelings out into the open. Don't leave out the part that seems too "difficult to discuss" or too "insignificant" to be important. Your solution will work best if all issues are discussed thoroughly.
Work on a Solution and Follow Through
When you have reached this point in the discussion, start working on a solution. Two or more people cooperating are much more effective than one person telling another to change. Be specific: "I will turn my music off at midnight," is better than a vague, "I won't play loud music again." After you've worked out a solution, follow through. Agree to check with each other at specific times to make sure that the agreement is still working. Keep at it!
Step 4: How Do You End an Argument? (20 min)
Have the students, in groups of three or four, think about times when they disagreed or argued with someone. Have them discuss those situations and, as they are talking, list the different ways that the arguments were resolved or ended. Their list could include the standards: giving in, crying, yelling, yelling louder, fighting, running to a parent or adult for help, walking away. Bring the class together as a group and on the board, a large piece of paper, or your computer using an LCD projector, write down the ways they came up with for ending arguments. Have them further discuss whether each of these ways represents that the argument ended in a win, a loss, or a compromise—from their point of view.
Step 5: Yes, You Know How to Compromise (10 min)
Put the class definition of compromise on the board or have the students refer to it in their notebooks. Have them reflect on a time when they compromised on something that they really wanted. Tell them to be as specific as possible, especially focusing on how the compromise was reached and what they felt was lost or gained from the compromise and the experience itself. Since they have ten minutes to write, tell them that if they finish, they should write about another experience or write about an argument which wasn’t resolved in a compromise and what they could have done to do so.
Step 6: I Can Compromise (40 min)
The students will figure out how to reach a compromise in a number of scenarios. To model what to do, go through the first and second scenarios together as a class. You can pick two students to do this and have them stand in front of the class, or you can be one of the participants and pick a student to be your argument partner, or you can supervise the process by getting ideas from the class about what could/should be said next.
- There is one piece of birthday cake left. Two siblings already had two pieces each, but they still want the last piece. Who gets it? (Oh, and did I say that this piece of cake has a sugar flower on it?)
- The family (mother, father, three siblings) is going out for a meal. Each of three siblings wants to sit up front in the car. How do you work this out?
Have the class go back into their small groups. Tell them that they will need to work out a compromise for two of the following four scenarios. You may want to assign specific scenarios to each group to ensure that all of the scenarios are covered. Tell them that each group will be presenting one of the scenarios in front of the class. (Don’t tell them which so that they work equally hard on both.)
- It’s been a long day of sports activity for two siblings, and they are both hot and sweaty. Understandably, they each want to shower first in the family’s one bathroom. Who goes first?
- The family is moving! Instead of sharing a room, the two siblings will each have their own room. How do you decide who gets which room? Not surprisingly, they both want the same room. Both of the rooms are approximately the same size, although one has a bigger closet and the other has a bigger window; one faces the street and the other faces the backyard.
- Two good friends are no longer speaking because they each think that the other hasn’t been a good friend. Before their friendship break, they had signed up to go to the same very small camp, too small to ignore each other. What do they do so that they don’t ruin the summer for themselves or everyone else around them?
- A young couple is getting married. One wants a big ceremony and party without a honeymoon, and, the other wants a small ceremony and party but a lovely honeymoon. What to decide?
Have each group present one of their scenarios. Each scenario should be presented at least once. Tell the audience members to take notes during or right after each presentation noting what they thought was effective and why.
After all scenarios have been enacted, have the students share the insights gleaned from the presentations. This should lead to a discussion about why they thought different things worked and how things could have been improved. Conclude with a discussion on why it is important to reach a compromise.
Step 7: Round Robin Writing or Comic Strip Creation (60 min)
A round robin is a cooperative writing activity where each student writes a paragraph to create a story, and then it moves to the next person, who writes the next paragraph. Since there are five prompts in this activity, each of the students will write a part of five stories.
As an alternative to the round robin writing activity, you may have the students create comic strips. This is outlined below as well, and a handout is provided in the Extension Activities section.
Round Robin Activity
This assignment is fun for the students and gives them a good opportunity to see how other people write and think. The objective is to have fun and not to stress too much with the details. Tell the students before you begin that these will be shared with the class. Also, since they will be sharing their writing, they should write as neatly as possible.
Make sure to give each person time to finish each prompt before moving onto the next prompt. Generally, students will take between five to 10 minutes for each prompt. You can seat them in groups of five so that it’s easy to figure out who is to their right when they move the papers, or you can have them stay in their seats and direct them to pass their papers clockwise or counterclockwise or however works in your classroom. To keep track of who writes what, have each student write her/his name above the paragraph that s/he writes.
Tell the students to take out a piece of paper and be ready to write--neatly. Remind them that they had been thinking about compromise in the last few classes and to try to get into that compromising mindset now.
Write your name at the top of a piece of paper, then write:
Paragraph One: Argument.
Two people are arguing. Explain what they are arguing about.
Paragraph Two: Person One Is Right.
Pass to the person to your right. Read what the other person wrote, write your name, and write why one of the people is absolutely right.
Paragraph Three: Person Two Is Right.
Pass to the person to your right. Read what the other people wrote, write your name, and write why the other person is absolutely right.
Paragraph Four: Here Comes the Man/Woman.
Pass to the person to your right. Read what the other people wrote, write your name, and imagine that you are person in authority: what are your impressions of these two people and their argument.
Paragraph Five: Judgment Time.
Pass to the person to your right. Read what the other people wrote, write your name, and imagine that you are a judge, tell Person One and Person Two what to do to peacefully end their argument.
Pass the stories back to their originators. Share aloud. Some students may be shy about this, so you can read them or have someone else in their group (besides the originator) read the story.
Alternative Activity: Create a Comic Strip
Students will create a comic strip that illustrates the progress of an argument from inception to conclusion. They will work in pairs or groups of three. All comic strips must include the following elements, although the students can decide how many panels to use and how to chronologically tell the story.
Argument: Two people are arguing. Show what they are arguing about.
Person One Is Right: Show why this person is right.
Person Two Is Right: Show why this person is right.
Here Comes the Man/Woman: Introduce a person who will decide how this argument must end.
Judgment Time: The man/woman tells Person One and Person Two what to do to peacefully end their argument.
Have students share their comic strips.