Educating Mediators ≠ Educating Lawyers
Recently I was asked, “What is the difference between educating lawyers and educating mediators”?
One difference is a result of basic brain function. In general, legal education requires declarative memory whereas mediator education requires procedural memory.
Declarative memory is “memory that a person can state in words”, according to Wikipedia. This is the type of memory that is understood to be enhanced by our capacity to consolidate memories through sleep, such as when we reactivate newly learned memories.
In contrast, using the Wikipedia definition, procedural memory is created through “repeating a complex activity over and over again until all of the relevant neural systems work together to automatically produce the activity”. This kind of memory is typically not accessed consciously. Procedural memory is a type of implicit memory where our previous experiences aid the performance of a task even though we do not have conscious awareness of these previous experiences.
Thus because of the way our brains work, the method of providing an education for the declarative memory needed by lawyers is different than the education for the procedural memory needed by mediators.
If you are considering becoming a mediator or gaining mediation skills this is important.
In order to build procedural memories it is important for mediator education to include many opportunities for learning through experience such as in-class practise, and role playing as a mediator.
Consider the class size and the format of your possible mediation courses. A small class experience with lots of opportunity to practise using the concepts taught in the course will deliver the most effective procedural memory as you build your mediator skills. For example, the maximum class size in the Mediator Education Program at Munn Conflict Resolution Services is 12 students. In our basic 40-hour course, Fundamentals of Mediation, there are three days of in-class practise segments. In addition each student has extensive opportunities to role play as a mediator, in at least two different scenarios with coaching from an experienced mediator.
Our course Fundamentals of Mediation is accredited by the Law Society of Upper Canada for Continuing Professional Development.
This program contains 1.75 Professionalism Hours and 38.25 Substantive Hours.