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Negotiating Classroom Process: Lessons from Adult Learning

Authors

  • Melissa L. Nelken

    1. University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and the Hastings Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution
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Melissa L. Nelken is a professor of law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and faculty chair of the Hastings Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. She is also a practicing psychoanalyst. Her e-mail address is nelkenm@uchastings.edu.

Abstract

Learning by doing is standard fare in negotiation courses across disciplines, and techniques such as learning contracts, self-reflective essays, and small-group work are commonly used. In addition, teachers must resist the temptation to “teach the canon” without regard to the needs, interests, and concerns of the students in the room. Learner-centered education requires that teachers build from the beliefs and preconceptions that students bring to the classroom, including their cultural beliefs and norms about conflict resolution, some of which may be at odds with the North American canon. A discussion-based approach to teaching not only engages students more actively in the learning process but also models many of the skills negotiation teachers seek to develop in their student-negotiators.

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