Last day of the elementary level of Conflict Resolution was yesterday. All kids received their ‘certificates’. I am glad it is over. But it was fun.
On the last day, the kids did role plays. They first argue about some false issue I give them and then they use the tools they were introduced to to resolve it. Of course, kids can’t really ‘act’ 100%, and they revert to ‘self’ pretty quickly but they gave it a shot and they demonstrated that they knew the tools. Basically. It was not hard to praise them. But the best part were some of the solutions.
To the 8 year old who was appointed the president, owner and CEO of an oil company in Alberta meeting with an environmentalist (9 years old), the solution arrived at was to sell the company, close the valves and start a cotton farm together.
To the brother and sister who had the house to themselves over the weekend and it was a mess with the parents on their way home, the solution was to stop blaming each other and simply lock the doors, go to bed and pretend to have been sick for the entire time the parents were away.
They failed the ‘test the solution’ part of the process.
To the 60 year old volunteer who was married to the 12 year old and arguing about child care, the solution was to divorce, move next door and hire a nanny (a solution Jack Nicholson, the actor, made famous in real life).
“What are you going to teach next?” Asked the teacher. “I was thinking of stand-up comedy but they already know that better than I do.”
Maybe we’ll let that teaching opportunity mellow for, oh, say, a year?
After class, we went to the other island to work on the car. It was sputtering and running poorly. I had used my low-cost diagnosis computer-reader to determine that it was the computer-connected mass air sensor (MAS) that was the culprit. You Tube suggested spraying it with a special cleaner. Further googling revealed that the special cleaner is 99% rubbing alcohol. So, pouring a small amount of that in to a small container, we went over and removed the MAS, immersed it in alcohol and shook it up. Then we replaced the part and tried the car. Perfect.
The remedy suggested by the mechanic in Vancouver (the sputtering has been going on for a while but we drive little) was a $700 replacement part and, of course, labour and taxes. The part is the size of a lollipop and consists of two filaments like that found in a small incandescent light bulb. $700 seemed extreme. Lordco parts quoted $650. The filaments were intact so replacing the part seemed ridiculous. And a chimp could do the labour.
So, we did it. All in all, we felt pretty good about our day. But should we have?
The main underlying lesson of teaching conflict skills is that conflict is not only common, it is perpetual. “If you guys want a career that has a never-ending supply of customers, consider becoming a mediator. You will never run out of work.”
AND: “You are destined to fight a lot over the next few decades of your life. May as well get trained.” What a lesson!
The second lesson was – no one fixes anything anymore. They just replace it with a new part. Plug, play and pay. In this case, the mechanic was NOT obviously crooked but simply analyzing at a superficial level and replacing the part without even considering fixing (in this case cleaning) the part. No wonder life is so expensive. Especially in the city. Who, in the city, has the time to analyze and fix their own car? Delegating to specialists wouldn’t be so bad if it was necessary but that little example would have cost $1000.00.
And I would have had to make $1300 to pay the taxes to pay the bill that included $150.00 in more taxes.
Is it just me? Or does our whole bloody system need some major in-depth analysis and some very diligent reaming and cleaning?