The Project ‘The Ingenious judge – An awareness-raising itinerary to legality and justice‘ is based on my book ‘Il Giudice alla Rovescia‘ (ed. Einaudi Ragazzi, 2015), which aims to encourage the idea that rules have a positive and protective function to facilitate living together, beginning at the primary school age.
In order to raise awareness and sensitivity, the project aims to involve kids together with parents and teachers, beginning from daily conflicts, in creating shared rules or positive solutions to overcome them. By playing, kids develop rules for preventing or solving conflicts. They find their own rule, the one that can be found only through the dialogue between the opponents and the recognition of the other’s point of view. In this way, kids can take responsibility and experience the process of making rules first-hand.
The project is the result of the experiences at two schools in Sassari (Sant’Orsola and Porcellana), which were then developed in numerous meetings with schools in various regions of Italy. It may be executed in several phases, with the possibility of choosing one or more parts.
Letters to a judge
Normally a teachers’ preparation will involve reading the book or part of the book, and other activities of their choice. Then the teachers can put an ‘Ingenious Judge’s postbox’ in the classrooms so that children may submit one or more conflicts for the Judge’s attention.
After, the Class workshop “Dear Ingenious Judge, …” will take place, with the possible participation of magistrates, attorneys, mediators, and scholars of conflict resolution systems.
Reading out the children’s disputes addressed to the Ingenious Judge in the messages in his postbox, and finding possible solutions with the lenient and original approach of the protagonist of the book.
Assessing the options
It is advisable to link the reading of the disputes to the organisation of a game – conceived and experimented in the schools in Sassari. It will help children to discover the conflict resolution mechanism (an expert group will play with each class for two hours).
The game consists of dividing the class into the following three groups: 1) “The Ingenious Board” group; 2) “The Options” group; 3) “The Hunt for the Rules” group.
After receiving the text with a brief summary of the dispute, the “Options” group should fill the board with possible solutions to the dispute.
The “Ingenious Board” group has to make its decision by evaluating the options proposed and if necessary adding to any of them.
The “Hunt for the Rules” group has to elaborate the general and abstract rules emerging from the resolution of the dispute.
The teachers can also put on a play during the school year. The children could work with teachers to prepare a theatrical representation of one or more of the stories told in the book. They could also meet classes from another school and collaborate on the creation of the play.
In this way it is possible to promote the communication of the contents acquired through artistic expression in various forms (painting, acting, music and others). Furthermore, the children create an experience of with the important aspect of putting oneself in someone else’s shoes to discover the diversity of positions and to share the same emotions.
As mentioned earlier, the project is flexible and can be done in various phases according to the availability of teachers and other people involved.
Another version of the project has been carried out in reverse: the children worked on the book in class with their teachers, and at the end of the various workshops, they organised a meeting with the author to ask questions, and further explore the themes encountered. The children then exhibited the results of their various workshops with drama productions, drawings, poetry, rhymes, musical pieces, etc.
Material related to all the projects done so far can be found on the Facebook page ‘Il giudice all rovescia‘.
For the Florence Global Pound Conference event, the kids taking part in the Scuola di Sant’Orsola classes have created the stage show of Il giudice alla rovescia as the final moment of this project and they will perform it at the La Pergola Theater in Florence.
This experience shows us that best practices of mediation help to make schools a more livable environment and contribute to train peaceful kids who are able to manage confrontation with others.
Written by Luciana Breggia.
Luciana Breggia has worked at a law firm in Milan, before becoming a judge in 1985. Currently President of the second section of the Tribunal of Florence, author of numerous legal essays and articles, she is particularly committed to the topic of conflict resolution processes. She took part in the Governmental Study Commission charged with drafting a reform of ADR instruments, presided over by Prof. Guido Alpa. She writes essays about mediation for the ‘Treccani-Il libro dell’anno del diritto’ (The Year Law book) published every year by the Italian encyclopedia Institute. On February 2017, she founded the association ‘Il giudice alla rovescia’, inspired by the homonymous book written by her in 2015.