Innovative Approaches to Restorative Justice: Reflections from the RJ World Conference

In the arena of restorative justice, educators and practitioners constantly seek innovative methods to impart its core values and principles. One such enlightening session at the 2020 RJ World Conference stood out in this pursuit. Lindsey Pointer and Kathleen McGoey, co-authors of “The Little Book of Restorative Teaching Tools”, unveiled a unique pedagogical approach centered on games and activities tailored for teaching restorative justice. This engaging presentation not only introduced the attendees to a novel method of instruction but also highlighted the importance of aligning the teaching approach with the very essence of restorative values.

Lindsey Pointer, with her remarkable academic and professional portfolio, brought to the forefront the richness of her experiences. As an Assistant Professor at Vermont Law School and an integral part of the National Center on Restorative Justice (USA), her insights held a profound depth. Lindsey’s journey, from being a restorative justice facilitator to a notable author in the field, added layers of credibility to her perspective.

The duo’s shared reflections during the presentation served as a powerful testimony to the vitality of teaching restorative justice in ways that resonate with its foundational principles. Their emphasis on the alignment between methodology and philosophy underscored a fundamental tenet – that the method of teaching should reflect the ethos of what is being taught.

One of the presentation’s key highlights was the introduction of specific games and activities designed to teach restorative justice. These weren’t mere pastimes; they were carefully crafted tools enabling learners to delve deeper into the restorative philosophy. Through these games, participants could identify the root causes of problematic behavior, enhance their active listening skills, and gain a more profound understanding of concepts like validation and reframing.

Furthermore, the presentation touched upon a sensitive and crucial aspect of restorative justice, termed as the “first harm” by Edward Valandra. This refers to the grave injustices meted out to native people in the United States. By integrating this context into their teaching methodology, Lindsey and Kathleen ensured that the historical and social dimensions of restorative justice weren’t sidelined.

In a significant move, building on the momentum from their previous year’s presentation, the duo returned with an expanded arsenal of games and activities. Their commitment to enhancing the teaching tools available to the restorative justice community was palpable. For each game or activity they introduced, the pair meticulously described its nature, optimal usage, and the outcomes they had observed over time. Such attention to detail ensured that educators and practitioners left with a clear roadmap on employing these tools effectively.

In conclusion, the presentation by Lindsey Pointer and Kathleen McGoey at the RJ World Conference was a beacon of innovation in the realm of restorative justice education. By intertwining the core principles of restorative justice with interactive and engaging teaching methodologies, they showcased a path forward that promises deeper understanding and wider acceptance of restorative values in communities. As the field of restorative justice continues to evolve, such pioneering efforts light the way, offering hope and direction to educators and learners alike.