30 September, 2011

What is it that Restorative Practices actually restore?

Recently I have been pondering the question:
  • What is it that restorative practices actually restore?
Obviously there are lots of possible answers to this question. For example, a school that was using Martin Seligman's approach to Well-Being would use restorative practices to restore the 5 main elements (PERMA) that contribute to success and well-being, namely,
  1. Positive Emotions – experiencing joy and pleasure
    • While the outcomes of bad experiences are the opposites of joy or pleasure, it is important for people to ultimately feel more positive after dealing with the bad things that they have done, or have been done to them. 
    • Unfortunately, some traditional approaches leave people who have caused harm to others in the state of feeling bad (shamed) about what they have done as 'logical consequence'. However this is likely to result in on-going disengagement, resentment and other limiting factors.
    • Similarly, traditional approaches often fail to address the emotional needs of the person who has been harmed so that they continue to feel bad about what has been done to them
  2. Engagement (or flow) – being consciously involved in our activities
    • Managed disengagement (isolation, suspension...) is also often seen as a 'logical consequence' of doing the wrong thing but this reduces the likelihood of productive  engagement
  3. Relationships – having enjoyable and supportive interactions with others
    • Damaged relationships are very often a result of wrong doing. Failing to restore damaged relationships is likely to result in a long term state of reduced success and wellbeing
  4. Meaning – creating a purposeful narrative about our lives; being engaged with or serving something larger than ourselves
    • Having been harmed, or having caused harm to others, changes our personal narratives for the worse. Experiencing restoration of positive emotions, engagement, relationships... helps to restore constructive meaning in our lives.
  5. Accomplishments – completing our goals and following our core values.
    • Those who have been harmed, or caused harm, are likely to experience a sense of failure. If unresolved this is likely to reduce a person's subsequent capacity to achieve and act in ways that better match their own core values.
Clearly restorative practices provide rich ways of restoring each of the five elements of Well-Being.

What is your school's answer to this important question?