1. What are the sources and types of conflict that are most salient in the school environment?
Conflicts are common in the school environment. The most pervasive sources of conflict is a closed perspective towards different ideas, norms and values, lack or limited understanding of differences, and assertion of attitudes and behavior without concern over the consequences to other people. These sources of conflict have underpinnings on personality and social structure and cuts across issues of gender, race, class, grade level discrimination and having a sense of ethics.
The types of conflict schools fall under fighting (Tschannen-Moran, 2001) especially within students, teachers, administration, and other personnel groups or show of disrespect (Tschannen-Moran, 2001) between individuals or parties from the different groups. Fighting among students is most pervasive that could often lead to violence such as bullying, fistfights or even the use of weapons. Fighting could also occur among the adult groups in schools although rarely escalating to violence. Disrespect could range from offensive verbal remarks to destruction of property, vandalism and other pranks, and physical violence.
2. What are the long-run (beyond school days / for life) benefits of implementing a conflict resolution program, in high schools?
Implementing the conflict resolution in 50 high schools in Ohio led to a number of long-term benefits to the schools that affects students, teachers, administrators, and other school personnel. There are also apparent benefits to parents and the wider community.
One benefit is culture change (Tschannen-Moran, 2001). The shift from apathy to empathy reflects culture change. Administrators, teachers and students get to know about the concerns of the school and their role in making things better through the program. This breeds movement from indifference of problems faced by the school to involvement in building solutions.
The actors in the conflict management program shift from passive recipients to active movers in improving the school environment. Awareness of conflict management strategies also creates the change from careless action to responsible action with the realization of accountability for individual actions. Conflict management programs that target listening and understanding skills also influence the shift from exclusion to inclusion. These changes in school culture have long-lasting positive effects on learning not only in the academic sense but also in the holistic social sense.
Another benefit is establishment of a more peaceful school environment. The conflict management program provided an alternative mode of resolving grievances and issues in a constructive manner instead of through punishments (Tschannen-Moran, 2001). By dissolving the conflict, these do not escalate into serious problems but rather patch relationships.
Still another benefit is heightened perspectives of efficacy of teachers (Tschannen-Moran, 2001) through the ability to manage conflicts as well as lesser time handling conflicts in class because of decline in incidence. This gives teachers a sense of achievement but also gives them time and room to focus on productive activities. Teacher’s instruction improves.
Student performance also improves through the conflict management program. Peer facilitators develop new competencies such as discipline (Tschannen-Moran, 2001) that they can apply in learning. A more secure school environment also minimizes disruptions in the learning of people involved in the conflicts (Tschannen-Moran, 2001) and those affected by conflicts.
Trust building (Tschannen-Moran, 2001) among the groups is also a long-term effect. This is necessary to support cooperation in the future. Better relations among students and the adult groups create a better environment for learning and learning outcomes.3. Should such a program be implemented in the work place? Explain your answer.
Yes. Conflicts also occur in the work place, albeit the nature and extent of the conflict differs. Competition and stress in the work place could escalate closed mindedness, bias, and prejudicial personality of individuals to create conflict. Conflict management programs in the workplace could empower personnel to manage interrelationships in order to prevent and alleviate conflicts. These could also enhance individual values in favor of better working relationships and environment. The conflict management program in Ohio schools showed better support coming from administration and improved cooperation and participation of teachers (Tschannen-Moran, 2001). The conflict management programs built better relationships among the adult groups that could also apply to other work place settings.
Tschannen-Moran, M. (2001). The effects of a state-wide conflict management initiative in schools. American Secondary Education, 29(3), 2-32.