Young people are set to learn how to hone their negotiating skills at an event prompted by the “poor example” set by those involved in the Brexit process.
Lisa Kerr, headteacher of Gordonstoun School in Moray, Scotland, which is hosting the three-day event, said the school has been appalled by the “aggressive and confrontational tone” being adopted by world leaders.
Pupils attending the Learning to Listen symposium will be urged not to follow the example set by politicians during the Brexit debate and instead develop better listening and understanding skills in order to negotiate successfully.
As viewers of The Crown will know, Gordonstoun is Prince Philip and Prince Charles’s old school. Young people from across the UK have been invited to the event, including children living in some of the country’s most deprived areas
“We have been appalled by the aggressive and confrontational tone increasingly adopted by world leaders,” said Kerr of the motivation for the event, which is being led by Gordonstoun teacher James Smith, who has a masters degree in peace and conflict and was part of the UN peacekeeping mission to Haiti.
“The art of dialogue is very different to the art of debate,” Smith said.
“It is not about winning an argument but about understanding your opponent’s point of view so that you can reach the best outcome for all.”
One of the participants is Rachel Thomson, 16, from Govan High School in Glasgow. “I feel political debate at the moment is very argumentative and I don’t feel inspired by it,” she said.
The teenager said some political leaders “can give the wrong impression and cause divisions in society”.
“There could be more co-operation and collaboration in order to come to a balanced decision. If there was more middle ground in the ideology, we’d have better policies implemented.”
Kerr added: “We want to teach the leaders of tomorrow that empathy and understanding are the keys to find solutions with which everyone can feel settled; it is fine to disagree but there are better ways to express your opinion which will help all parties to reach a successful resolution.”