Restorative Justice in the Classroom: Necessary Roles of Cooperative Context, Constructive Conflict, and Civic Values

David W. Johnson, Roger T. Johnson

To ensure that restorative justice is effective, a cooperative context must be developed, future conflicts must be managed constructively, and relevant parties need to adopt civic values. The theory underlying the creation of a cooperative context is social interdependence theory. Goal interdependence may be positive (i.e., cooperative) or negative (i.e., competitive). Creating a cooperative context will both help prevent destructively managed conflicts and help create positive relationships. The long-term maintenance of a cooperative context depends on resolving conflicts constructively. Individuals need to learn how to resolve conflicts of interests through integrative negotiation and peer mediation. Individuals also need to learn how to resolve intellectual disagreements through the constructive controversy procedure. Intellectual disagreements are inherent in all decision making. Finally, engaging in cooperative efforts and resolving conflicts constructively inculcates civic values. It is the combination of cooperative experiences, constructive conflict resolution, and civic values that most effectively ensures that all relevant parties can redress past wrongs and reconcile with each other.