Use English to learn conflict resolution; use conflict resolution to improve English.

Mediating Shakespeare

Speaking  of Verona....

Several years ago, four of my Chinese students at Berkeley proposed a mediation role-play between two gentlement of Verona, Mr. Capulet and Mr. Montague. I can’t recall if the ground rules included leaving swords outside in the hall, but the student mediators fearlessly explained the mediation process and convinced both gentlemen to give it a try.

After an hour of active listening, a few apologies and a few minutes spent imagining a bright future filled with grandchildren and “dynasty” (albeit Chinese style), the Montagues and Capulets raised their goblets to celebrate their new understandings and future plans. Romeo and Juliet would be married in Verona’s grandest wedding ever, have many children, and, of course, live happily ever after.  

Some might say that if Romeo and Juliet had lived, literature would have died. Does resolving conflict destroy literature?

In any event, teaching mediation through literature and literature through mediation provides rich opportunities for students to explore both subjects more deeply and creatively, as I learned during my wonderful collaboration with Sybil Marcus, author of World of Fiction - Timeless Short Stories

More on this collaboration in future blogs. Meanwhile, which literary conflicts would you like to see resolved in mediation? 


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