The Third Side: The Teacher

Providing People with the Skills they Need to Handle Conflict

A Teacher's Guide to the Beyond Intractability Website

  • When you see violence being espoused, do you suggest a different way for others to handle their problems? Are you someone who shares resources and knowledge freely?
  • Do you enjoy helping people see new ways to perceive a problem?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of the above questions, then you may be a teacher. This Web page will direct you to information about how to carry out your role more effectively.

Who are Teachers?

Teachers are those who educate others about ways to deal with differences. This includes not only classroom teachers and college professors, but also people who share problem-solving and conflict resolution skills with their friends or colleagues. Everyone everywhere is a potential teacher.

Sometimes people fight simply because they know no other way to react when their needs are frustrated. Parties who have intolerable moral differences or become caught in conflicts surrounding justiceidentityrights, or social status may find it particularly difficult to deal constructively with conflict. By helping people to learn new values, perspectives and skills, teachers can show them a better way to deal with differences. Central tasks include exposing parties to non-violent approaches to conflict, emphasizing tolerance, and teaching joint problem solving.

Past experience has shown that an inability to manage conflict constructively can have tragic results and that the costs of intractable conflict are quite serious. Conflict escalation often results in aggressionwargenocidehuman rights violations, and/or terrorism. In addition to these costs to human life and well-being, violent conflict also damages relationships and imposes heavy costs on social, political, and economic structures. A first step is to teach that violence solves nothing. The next step is to educate parties about other less destructive ways to manage their conflicts.

For More Information

Much of the material on this user guide is drawn from Thanks to William Ury and Joshua Weiss for giving us permission to republish their material here.