Life-Enriching Education by Marshall Rosenberg

I've been traveling the path of a substitute teacher for the past few months and, when I'm moving around from place to place, am always interested to notice the ways teachers interact with students.  At an elementary school a couple weeks back, I was bothered to hear teachers using violent speech to control students.  Having worked in alternative education for two years, language is something I've been paying close attention to and I have a hard time buying into what Rosenberg and Eisler refer to (and critique) as the "language of domination," which is a model that seems to fit with my subbing experience a fortnight ago.  Curious to find ways of unlearning the language of domination, I stumbled upon Marshall Rosenberg and his work with Nonviolent Communication.  Soon after locating the work of Rosenberg, I came across his book Life-Enriching Education and decided to pick it up.  

Life-Enriching Education reads easy, but I struggled to get my head around some of the content.  For instance, Rosenberg mentions the importance of being able to articulate emotions in order to resolve conflict.  This sounds simple enough, yet in practice is remarkably difficult.  I'm not sure if it is a western struggle related to our obsession with escaping from ourselves, a gender problem, or a vocational deficiency resulting from inadequate teacher training (maybe all three?), but expressing feelings is a tricky road to travel down.  For instance, in my first year of teaching, more than once I remember telling students I felt "disrespected" (which is not an emotion) by them and, having said that, not really knowing where to go next.  Since my feelings weren't being clearly expressed and nothing was being requested of the student, this "disrespected" approach ended up being more of a neutral remark than a step toward understanding.  According to Rosenberg, we (teachers) can do better and, in this book, he offers several ways of improving our ability to express emotion (*I should make note that listening is another focal point of Rosenberg's) and resolve conflict.  If educators take Rosenberg's ideas to heart and work to implement them, good things can happen.  That said, in the process of unlearning the language of domination, instead of simply repeating canned phrases provided by Rosenberg (some of which may be helpful), I would recommend readers personalize Rosenberg's suggestions.