Conflict resolution and education Essay Sample

Abstract

Conflict and Violence are two unavoidable aspects of life that shape how human beings live in the contemporary society. Children are being exposed every day to conflict, in the news, movies, and sadly enough in their personal lives. It has become a way of life in other parts of the world; Iraq, Haiti, North Korea, Somalia, and DRC etc. As school violence increases, the study of conflict and conflict resolution is indispensable. It gives the students an edge in understanding conflict, not only in their own lives but also in the world around them, and it allows them to gain an important skill that will undoubtedly be used as they grow up.

Conflict Resolution as a permanent part of school curriculum is a way for school administrators and parents alike to fight academically the chaotic and sometimes violent world we live in. This study proposes the importance of conflict resolution within the educational curriculum and the advantages gained by the students and the administrators professionally.

The methodologies that will be used in this research study are varied. I will be using primary and secondary data. I will create a questionnaire for both students and educators in their opinion of the conditions of urban schools and implementing conflict resolution in the curriculum, I will also interview a few urban schools educators on their view of the increasing violence in schools and conflict resolution/education as an answer.

My secondary data will be from online sources, books, news articles, scholarly research and reports by the government agencies etc. The research study is to reexamine urban school curriculum and violence in urban schools according to the poor conditions of inner-city schools today to demonstrate the significance of permanently implementing a conflict resolution program, course, or adding it to the already established classes (English, Social studies) through cost effective means.

Ultimately conflict resolution should be utilized as an important tool for both students and administrators and should be considered as a lifestyle strategy. Through this study, the public will be made aware that conflict resolution strategies implemented in school curriculum will aid students in better decision- making, better problem solving and a more effective way of dealing with conflict both in school and out of school. Educators and administrators will be able to interact with each other and students efficiently.

Acknowledgement

I acknowledge the invaluable help from my lecturer and my colleagues with whom this research would not be a success. I would also like to appreciate those people who helped me get the necessary information for this research including my parents and all the participants who took part in the interview sessions

1.0 INTRODUCTIONViolence is real and many school administrators are implementing programs that are aimed at curbing violence in their institution through conflict resolution and education. It is therefore not new for anyone to hear conflict resolution and education. In fact, since the 19th century until the very contemporary society, it is acknowledged that violence, either mild or serious, frequently occurs in schools and some areas even record daily reports of the same. This means that violence in schools is still full-grown and something needs to be done urgently.

Some researchers have even suggested that public schools need conflict resolution education and they need it yesterday. In fact, it is recommended that since school violence keep rising every year, long term solutions that are well studied should be adopted.  Research indicates that very year in the U.S, 10% of the students are taken for counseling services within the school because of psychological trauma associated with conflicts in schools. In addition, several students have been seeking school transfers with a view to being admitted to safe schools. In 1999–2001, 20% of all public schools experienced one or more serious violent crimes such as rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault. 71% of public schools reported violent incidents and 46% reported theft

Between 1999 and 2000, there were 32 school associated violent deaths in the U.S half of which involved school children. The NCES (National Centre for Education Statistics) in 2003 reported that;

5% of children aged 12-18 were victims of non-fatal crimes4% were victims of theftThese statictiscs indicate that students are generally unsafe within the school and the consequences include; failure to go to school, fear of being attacked and poor academic achievements. It is with such statistics in mind that this research focuses mainly on how these conflicts can be limited

1.1  Background of the studyThis research outlines the importance of entrenching conflict resolution programs in the school curriculum.  The study will be in a position to identify issues that need to be addressed before the drafting and implementation of any programs that deal with conflict resolution. In view of that, conflict resolution should therefore be utilized by both administrators and students with a view of addressing consequences of conflicts. It is therefore prudent to note that properly drafted and implemented conflict resolution strategies will definitely become very effective in the management of personal differences and conflicts

With a view to establishing  the specific issues that underlie the need to have conflict resolution programs in schools today, this research aims to single out factors that contribute to student violence, reasons why children engage in school violence and the procedures of conflict resolution. The quantitative research will require the investigator to show the causes and effects of the school violence in the American society today.

It will particular look at the aspects of violence that include; language, curriculum, religion, lifestyle and other economic aspects. This research school administration i.e. the teachers, and ten students but it is not limited to other works done by other researchers in this topic

One of the outstanding issues that the research will focus on is the issue of incorporating conflict resolution programs in the school curriculum. It will look at how the students, teachers and other stakeholders view the whole idea and if it will bear fruit at long last. Since all indications and hypothesis concur with the fact that conflict resolution and education go hand in and in promoting social and academic wellbeing of the children, it will specifically look at the degree of its success

1.2 HypothesisThere is the belief that tends to suggest that conflict resolution and education is very complex because it deals with human psychology and behavior. There is also an accepted norm that the youth are always violent and nothing can prevent the m from doing that. Such kinds of theories suggest that conflict resolution education require complex approaches and programs that are more of rehabilitation than instruction. The same school of thought concurs with the fact that instilling knowledge and skills on conflict resolution to children while still young is a brilliant idea.

Thus many researchers have dwelled on situations, suggested ways/methods/programs that can help improve conflict resolution in schools and they have come up with suggestions. Little is however known concerning the opinion of the teachers and students themselves on this issue. It is the aim of this research study to investigate their opinion ion this and come up with suggestions that can help all the stakeholders in this issue.

1.3 Guiding questionsThe guiding questions that guided the researcher are in line with previous studies done by other researchers concerning conflict resolution and education. Because the study will focus on this very critical area of this issue, the following are the research questions for this study;

What are the reactions of students, parents, teachers and school administrators on conflict resolution and education?What are the underlying issues that make up conflict resolution and education?  What are the possible benefits that arise from integrating peer mediation programs and What are the attitudes and views of youth towards school violence? What are the roles to school administrators in conflict resolution and education programs?1.4 Definition of termsAdmit- To allow, permit or grant i.e.  The words do not admit of such a construction that is in this sense, of may be used after the verb or absent.

Advice- To counsel, an opinion suggested or presented as worthy to be followed by men

Advice- To give information or to communicate notice i.e. to make acquainted with, followed by of; before the thing communicated

Affected- Impressed, moved or touched either in person or in interest i.e. having suffered some change by external force; loss, danger, and others e.g. failure

Afflict- to be pretentious with continued or often repeated ache or either of body or mind, suffering grief or distress of any kind, followed by the rheumatism

Conflict- any disagreements or quarrel that arise among parties

Counsel- To give advice to, to advice or to admonish or instruct especially as a person in position to help

Help- To assist or to succor, to lend means of deliverance, as to help one in distress; to help one out of prison, To relieve; to cure, or to mitigate pain or disease; Help and ease them, but by no means bemoan them

Isolation-apparent lack of cooperation, inequality among people leading to segregation, seclusion and separation

Moral perfection- It is the complete possession of all moral excellence as in the Supreme Being, or the possession of such moral qualities and virtues as a thing is capable of doing

Qualitative – Comparisons based on the qualities of the persons used in a particular study which relate or involve certain personal characteristics

Quantitative –study analyses based on kinds of exact premises and numbers which will include the volumetric propensity of the information available

Renewal-it is the process of constructive adjustment to environment and planned adaptation to change.

Stereotype threat-this is a condition where a person’s character suffers due to fear of the threat of a senior person including a teacher

Value- To esteem or to hold in respect and estimation i.e. to value one for his works or virtues

1.4 LimitationsCertain limitations were encountered while I was undertaking this study but which were not possible to prevent me from getting the required information. First, I was limited by time constraints and lack of resources which is normal in very research study. The time frame that was provided was slightly not enough to gather the views of all the participants in the survey given the fact that the study was undertaken by a single person therefore the work was enormous to excellent outcome.

On that note, the above mentioned limitations somewhat confined the researcher to only a few locations in the area of study thus the sample of the population interviewed were from limited locations. In spite of all these limitations, I ensured that extensive work was done and that they did not hinder the submission of a quality study. I also hope that this report will be used as a reference by the government and the other stakeholders in this issue to help equip schools with the necessary curriculum relating to conflict resolution

1.5 Significance of the studyThis research study is to reexamine urban school curriculum and the extent of violence in urban schools given the poor conditions of inner-city schools today and hence demonstrate the significance of permanently implementing conflict resolution programs.  This can be in the form of courses, policies, extra curriculum activities or even the addition of more comprehensive programs in addition to those existing i.e. social studies and English in line with cost considerations.

2.0 LITERATURE REVIEWThe current curriculum in our schools misses social related studies that are specifically meant to address the issue of conflict and violence. It has been noted that people who are not prepared well to handle conflicts end up fueling the conflict and that is how conflict erupt. It is therefore necessary that people are equipped with the skills to handle conflicts and therefore be ready to live with conflicts. The main aim of this research therefore is to enable students to examine situations that may lead to conflicts, handle disagreements and other violence related issues in a manner that will stem out conflicts. (Walling, 1996 pp 115)

If the studies are integrated in the curriculum, it will go a long way in helping students engage in meaningful inquires, ask questions and therefore be in an environment which is investigation centered, active, and mind-set oriented. With such kind of knowledge, it is possible to have student’s access knowledge in terms of accommodating weaknesses and dissonant information. When errors are made or mistakes committed, conflicts are easily handled and very little confrontation n noticed. The same behavior within the classroom environment is passed to the societal level where conflicts are more prone and serious.

 2.1 Conflict resolution characterization

It is acknowledged that violence and delinquency do occur mainly due to the inability of the youth to handle conflict is an expert way. When conflict resolution is taught and its process emphasized, the young people are able to manage their conflicts hence not escalating to violence. Conflict resolution helps to identify either approaches of handling conflicts rather than the use of violence to solve them. If young people are equipped with knowledge on conflict resolution, violence is greatly reduced in the school community, juvenile facilities, communities and other public places including the family.

Conflict resolution education in schools help create skills that are needed to solve both simple and complex problems hence better decision making ability. When these programs are integrated in the entire school community or facilities, they become more effective and thus are able to link both with family/community mediation efforts. It can also be taken a notch higher by integrating the same within institutional management practices where students are given the opportunity to handle conflicts arising among their peers with a view to giving them first hand experience. (Seeman, 1995 pp 180)

2.2 Approaches to conflict resolution educationGenerally, there are four approaches to conflict resolution education:  Process curriculum; this is where educators teach the principles, processes of conflict resolution and how to effectively handle them to students as a full class or as a distinct lesson in other courses. The second one is peer mediation in which the young people are involved as part of a comprehensive strategy to violence and conflict control hence able to guide the rest of their peers (Bickmore, 2001 pp 4)

 Peaceable class is another approach where a whole class is taught the principles, foundation abilities and problem solving strategies as knowledge oriented skills geared towards helping students get the necessary approach methodology. In this case, conflict resolution classes are incorporated within core subjects of the curriculum and also in classroom management strategies. A fourth approach is peaceable school in which conflict resolution is integrated into the management of the institution in that are  students and teachers learn  to cope with the process and also make an effort of applying the same.

   There is increased disquiet over violence mitigation in schools thus raising concerns on the importance of conflict resolution and peer mediation programs in curbing the problem. It is however unknown if these programs are effective and reliable or not but they are considered to be the best measures to undertake. Evidence that is available today confirms that; (Bickmore, 2001 pp 3)

Conflicts do occur among students frequently Students who are no trained on conflict resolution tend to utilize what they know best-express their dissatisfaction physically and emotionally Sometimes it seen that conflict resolution education can help stem out violence among the youth Students learn mediation and interaction skills in school through social studies Trained students normally utilize constructive strategies for the conflict resolution Improved student interaction requires (Harris, 1996 pp 67) 2.3 A strategy for violence intervention Many people believe that violence and resolution strategies are difficult to draft and implement but as Bruce and Davis puts it, it is easy if handled in a professional manner.

The English journal reports that two English teachers who did a research on conflict and resolution concluded that there is need for “the creation of a more just, inclusive, and nonviolent curriculum, which can contribute to a more just, inclusive, and nonviolent society right under the school environment”  (Bruce and Davis, 2000 pp 120). In addition, Bruce and Davis also found that it wise to combine poetry and Hip-Hop in order to infuse today’s culture in conflict resolution and education.

Their research had indicated that, there were great differences in the way in which children and specifically the boys were brought up in the society. They concur with other researchers that men tend to suppress their emotions while women express theirs hence boys are ready to vent their anger and frustrations through violence and other disruptive behavior. The program slam (combination of poetry and Hip-Hop in an English class) was used to outline the importance of combining poetry and Hip-Hop for children to achieve an original approach, healthy, artistic and more inclusive tactics and ways to express their emotions. (Bruce and Davis, 2000 pp 120)

The main objective of educating children is to instill hem with values, knowledge, skills, attitudes and character that upholds what they have been taught in their neighborhoods. It therefore becomes more complex when the children come from a very diverse background in terms of culture, religion, race, economic and political status try to harmoniously. With such indifferences, many of them will tend to develop bad attitudes, discriminative looks and isolation characteristics. The common urban child finds day to day activities in the school going against the survival mode of their parents and their expectations.

To them, they are required to be self reliant, oriented and independent in life in order to enhance their survival modes of life thus the relevance of student life to their pay-off expectations is totally unmatched. On the other hand, schools tend to offer long term solutions to the problems affecting the urban population by instilling discipline, knowledge and skills to the children. In some situations, lack of collaborative work would minimize and prevent renewal of children from poverty stricken areas hence not able to correct between the mismatches in school and the outside life. This is so because many children have failed to cope with the procedures, norms and structures required of them in school meaning that education is least valued by such children.

Another strategy can be used is the youth development approach which focuses on strengthening the competence of young people to lucratively steer the life stage of adolescence. Its underlying principle is based on the belief that youth are valued resources and can contribute to family, school, and community life.

The youth development approach accentuates not by simply providing services, but offering a network of opportunities to encourage youth to get active and involved, and to support them in increasing a sense of proficiency, convenience, belonging, and power. Some of the developmental outcomes anticipated by the youth development model include a positive sense of self, a sense of connection and commitment to others, and the ability and inspiration to succeed in school and participate fully in family and community life.

The other final strategy is the DHHS campaign, “Your Time-Their Future,” an organization that employees caring adults to help children and young adolescents evade becoming involved in substance abuse which will eventually lead to violence in urban schools. The campaign emphasizes the need for adults to become actively involved in providing children with activities that will keep them away from alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. “Your Time-Their Future” is administered by SAMHSA. SAMHSA issues a series of print, radio, and television public service announcements promoting the campaign and has information guides, a poster, and a resource guide available (National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 800 729-6686)

2.4 Problems facing urban schoolsPrevious research has concluded that almost all the problems being experienced in urban schools originate outside the school. Some of the underlying issues that cause instability in urban schools include (Bickmore, 2001 pp137- 162);

Large number of families on welfare programs. Many families having financial problems and difficulties go to welfare programs for assistance in finances this puts students in very disturbing mood might make them look for alternatives means of looking for financial assistance. Sometimes the students are not able to concentrate in class because they have financial problems from their families.

Drug abuse among students. Some students still in school might be in a danger of being involved in the use and abuse of drugs, such kind of students will find it hard to concentrate in their studies or even stop studying due to the misuse of drugs. These same students will cause problems at home and in school which might leave to discontinuation of their studies and finally they will be social misfits in the society.

High population densities which strain facilities, some places where there are high populations might have problems concerning limited availability of resources and basic facilities, such students will not be able to concentrate to the maximum in their studies because they are not comfortable at all.(Gladden, 2002).

Numerous communication problems with agencies such as the police, family service providers, schools, employment agencies, health service providers, among others. If the students cannot learn the basic ethics of communication that is using a polite language then they will not be able to know how to communicate with older people, respectable people in the society including their teachers, they will never get the satisfactory help that they need in their lives.

Poverty, because of poverty, many students will not be able to achieve their dreams and this will result into dooming of the students’ dreams, many students from poor families have the potential but due to lack of the basic necessities they are not able to achieve their goals in life. (Louis, 1998 pp 56-78).

Discrimination and racism in schools and within the communities. This is so far the worst problem that has hit many students in both at school and their surrounding community. This problem limits the students because they are discouraged that only a given race can make it in life and the other races cannot make it. This can make students to get violent as a way of defending themselves of the discrimination and racism. (Munnelly, 1971 pp257-270)

2.5 Conflict analysis and resolution strategies In order to understand the way conflicts are resolved, it is prudent to understand the process of its emergence and the way it progresses. The following diagram demonstrates that, the intensity of a conflict is reached when there is a deadlock between two parties implicated (Louis, 1998 pp 73). However, when the process of conflict resolution is commenced through negotiation, a point is reached where a settlement or a compromise position is agreed. Such kind of process is only possible through learning and knowledge attainment.

Figure 1. Phases of conflicts

Source: Louis K. (1998):  Constructive Conflicts: From Escalation to Resolution. (Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, Inc. pp 59

At hand are specific repercussions of mediators which result from the way mediators handle conflict resolution processes. Their implications will be subject to legal jurisdictions of the agreements made during the negotiation procedure. The mediators also assist the two conflicting parties to communicate and reach a consensus on the issue while being non-partisan. People who handle conflicts professionally are able to bring pressure down through the creation of constructive situations for the parties to make proper resolutions

2.5.1 Teaching of anti-violence strategies within English curriculum As mentioned earlier, one of the strategies of teaching conflict resolution is through what is referred to as peace curriculum. In the English classes, peace resolution curriculum takes a centre stage in the education system.

The U.S Department of Education shows that between 1996 and 1997, school violence has increased by 21% while in 2006 and 2007, the figure was 19%. These figures show that there are still a higher percentage of students who are still violent especially in the urban areas. It is noted that the; peace curriculum’ introduced has not been as effective as expected but experts are asserting that it is a long term investment (U.S Department of Education, 2001).

 There is also no school wherever in the world that is immune to violence but there is a beckoning opportunity through conflict resolution education to change this. In fact, administrative responses  regarding the way students  perpetrate violence has been also very encouraging because students who have posed a threat to others, have been expelled, suspended or even charged in court for various offences. It has been also suggested that English teachers can play a big role in conflict resolution education through;

Classroom teaching of conflict resolution skillsExamining the nature of conflict with works of literatureCooperative learningAnalyzing and reading multicultural literature that are relevant to conflict resolution (Munnelly, 1971 pp 257)

2.5.2 Promoting Curriculum, culture and the community American public schools in the past were supposed to be institutions that offer remedies to social disorder in the society and violence. In the 19th century, senator Mann of Massachusetts, steered a committee on reforms on violence in schools that eventually declared that, “while a poorly educated child might turn to delinquency, “one placed under the care of judicious men, taught to labor, be furnished with a good moral and intellectual education would in 9 cases out of 10, perhaps, become a good and useful citizen” (Menacker 1995, pp 4).

In fact, a report submitted to the Nation Education Association in 1881 suggested that high schools could be the real agencies that would be utilized to stem the fight on violence and instill conflict resolution strategies. In that spirit, the report that recommended that kindergarten, play grounds, sporting events, summer schools and after school programs would be set to help inhibit juvenile misbehavior. The report also identified the following programs as to fit conflict resolution education;

Mentoring programsConflict resolution classesPeer mediationClasses that are geared towards assisting adolescents cope with related problemsMulticultural sensitivity trainingSupport groups andLaw related educationCertain indicators help predict disorder and violence in many schools and they include; discipline, organizational culture/climate, school size and resources, instructional approaches and the diversity in the school. Since some schools are concentrated in areas where crime and violent behavior is frequently reported, the same could spill over to the school thus many of the administrators will be dealing with students who are either victims or perpetrators of conflicts (Bell, 1979 pp 70)

Staff development issues replicates the need to address the way schools are gravely affected by violence today and more specifically the requirement that the school environment must be conducive for studies. Any school that fails to protect its teachers and students form exposure to violence is usually prone to demoralized culture and creates an atmosphere of anxiety, despair and psychological trauma.

This has been considered as a leading cause of student failure in lower and middle level schools. In fact, it is considered that as long as the issue of violence in schools is not addressed, students are not ready to gain the character-oriented skills that are expected of them and distract their attention to learn, seek advice, interact and coexist among one another mutually (Bickmore, 1997 pp 10).

Those teachers who feel that their safety is rather compromised within the school will not perform their instructional chores diligently and effectively due to the conflicts. On the other side of the coin, the members of administration within urban schools who pretend to handle oblige policies and regulations that are contrary to rules of justice thereby going out of touch with the school community should be warned against those practices so that conflicts in those schools can be abridged.

It has even come to the attention of most administrators that when students are either suspended or expelled, they cannot change their wicked ways but rather expand the ‘degree’ of the crime. (Johnson and Johnson, 1996 pp 468) These practices should not be compromised whatsoever in any learning institution.

2.5.3 Teacher’s involvementRecent studies have indicated that students get victimized after school or near the school by ‘assailants’ some of who are known to them. The root cause of such ‘attacks’ is that some students tend to preserve their anger due to tensions attained during the day and repulse them on their individuals just outside the school compounds (Anderson, 1998 pp 55). A recent incident in which f