Saturday, 27 April 2013


At yesterday's conference for Edinburgh Council school leaders mention was made of 'Ubuntu' by Steve Munby our main speaker. Given Gillespie's strong links with South Africa I was intrigued to find out more. What I found out was fascinating. 

As I have become older and wiser I find myself becoming a much stronger advocate and practitioner of restorative approaches to managing behaviours than was the case in my earlier career. Becoming a parent has also influenced how i work and relate with children. I have found a restorative approach to be much more effective in changing and sustaining improvements in teenagers' behaviours in the long term. There remain however in our schools and society at large a significant group that believes in a system based on proportionate and often severe punishment. Perhaps that explains why as a country Scotland has the shameful distinction of incarcerating the highest proportion of its citizens in Europe. 

The following extract from Wikipedia explains what the Ubuntu philosophy is about.

Tim Jackson refers to Ubuntu as a philosophy that supports the changes he says are necessary to create a future that is economically and environmentally sustainable.
Judge Colin Lamont expanded on the definition during his ruling on the hate speech trial of Julius Malema.
Ubuntu is recognised as being an important source of law within the context of strained or broken relationships amongst individuals or communities and as an aid for providing remedies which contribute towards more mutually acceptable remedies for the parties in such cases. Ubuntu is a concept which:
  1. is to be contrasted with vengeance;
  2. dictates that a high value be placed on the life of a human being;
  3. is inextricably linked to the values of and which places a high premium on dignity, compassion, humaneness and respect for humanity of another;
  4. dictates a shift from confrontation to mediation and conciliation;
  5. dictates good attitudes and shared concern;
  6. favours the re-establishment of harmony in the relationship between parties and that such harmony should restore the dignity of the plaintiff without ruining the defendant;
  7. favours restorative rather than retributive justice;
  8. operates in a direction favouring reconciliation rather than estrangement of disputants;
  9. works towards sensitising a disputant or a defendant in litigation to the hurtful impact of his actions to the other party and towards changing such conduct rather than merely punishing the disputant;
  10. promotes mutual understanding rather than punishment;
  11. favours face-to-face encounters of disputants with a view to facilitating differences being resolved rather than conflict and victory for the most powerful;
  12. favours civility and civilised dialogue premised on mutual tolerance.

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