Whole lotta learning going on

I almost feel like a student again! Not including my trip to the conference last weekend, which was a semi-academic learning experience in itself, I'm engaged in a couple of other great learning opportunities. I just completed a course in mediation training given by The Conflict Resolution Center here in Richmond as a part of preparing to volunteer as a community mediator. I already greatly enjoy studying and learning about how humans can communicate more effectively with each other (especially around difficult issues), so it was great to formalize some of those skills in this particular context, and to interact with other folks interested in doing the same. I also really appreciated that such a great resource with such important community services is right here in town.

I'm also taking a creative writing class from the folks at the Gotham Writers` Workshop. It's been an interesting experience so far, and I'm grateful for some structure around my desire to do more creative writing - or, dare I say it, "be a writer" - but I'll reserve for later my opinion of how well I learn in an online course environment - quite a contrast to face-to-face interaction. Anyone out there had any experiences with online education or training to share? What are *you* learning about these days?

Bypassing the Handmaidens and Pimps

Dave Pollard has a post up about conflict resolution. After a few paragraphs castigating the ability of the U.S. legal system and its agents to resolve conflicts, he talks about how to resolve peer-to-peer conflicts. It's interesting to me that the examples he gives of conflicts involving opposing worldviews pitted family members against each other (which seems about right for most of the kinds of conflict you mentioned), and yet one conclusion he made was that more carefully chosen communities might help us avoid these conflicts altogether. Indeed, one would like to think that this is the case, but I'm not sure such careful selection can alone overcome the cultural barriers at work, especially when it comes to the dynamics of the modern family (biological and otherwise), and the conflicting motives often driving its members.

I suppose it's worth noting as well that, in my experience, the kind of interest-based resolution approach that Dave mentioned can work for people with extremely opposing worldviews or mismatched frames, it just takes a lot more time and energy than most participants are willing to spend. In other words, in many situations, the desire to end the conflict "one way or another" will outweigh the desire to end it with a mutually satisfactory outcome.