School systems handle many conflicts which are rooted in family interaction or what should really be addressed as lack of proper familial interaction. Student issues are thrown into the system as parents continue to engage in lazy parenting. Of course, the few parents reading this article being the ones I am not referring to are now having a fit wondering how someone can make such a claim. The latter comment is meant towards parents who are MIA – busy at work, or busy at the Country club.
Proper parenting, and teaching is a pro-active process, not a reactive process. Having worked in education for fourteen years my observations clearly show that taking responsibility for one’s life, future, family seems to be on the back burner for too large a portion of the American population. Finger pointing is all too common and easy and thus when an issue pops up that calls attention, parents react passively toward the issues and in return become aggressive toward the school system, including teachers and administrators. What ever happened to the concept of viewing a parent as a life-teacher?
If one truly takes the time to analyze this social phenomenon from a macro-perspective then all of the players roles seem clearer as does the solution. Looking at the text, The Impact of Teacher Conflict Style on Student Discipline Outcomes focuses on the interaction between teachers and students from the perspective that the teachers’ conflict style selection during the discipline process affects the outcome.
Research was centered on “at risk” students enrolled in an Academy that was designed to specifically meet “at risk” student needs. Teacher response styles during the discipline process were the center of the research given that “at risk” students are suspended more frequently than students typically falling into the “regular” student population.
Teachers’ conflict styles were assessed using the Kilmann conflict assessment. The five conflict styles included: Accommodating, Avoiding, Controlling, Collaborative, and Compromising.
Another key focus was the affect of systemic issues that influence teacher-student interaction that result from cultural influences and social complexities present in capitalist economic system. Social complexity has resulted in the compartmentalization of individual action affecting interaction. Teachers and faculty with assigned duties are expected to follow prescribed discipline procedures as dictated by the school’s discipline action plan. These individuals are placed in situations where they must continually second guess their decision making process. Laws, policies, and procedures currently in existence which were originally believed to promote efficiency, restrict and hinder individuality and creativity.
Discipline in the public school system has deteriorated throughout the years. Teacher shortages and student failure continue to rise despite changes in curriculum.
Theorists such as Freire believe this is the result of polarization between teacher and student resulting from the banking concept of education (Freire, 2000). The polarization results from poor family structure, inappropriate adult models, and the loss of individuality within a system designed to serve the masses. Individuality (Thomas, 1963) has been lost as schools have standardized interaction through policy resulting from law. Students are expected to compete uniformly regardless of their life circumstances. Economic models are rarely mentioned by individuals holding positions of power or influence, as they rather maintain their status, rather than correct social
inequities resulting from increased stratification. This is permissible simply because stratification and the constant state of conflict present within individuals serves a purpose as individuals compete in a capitalist system for a better life situation.
Poor discipline is often believed to be the result of family background (Blandford, 1998) whiles the stress resulting from poverty, such as lack of social support, teenage motherhood, and low birth weight (Baumrind, 1995) is ignored. Regardless the need for a stronger economy that can provide higher paying jobs for families living in poverty is a key element that will strengthen the family. Those who struggle to live a descent life can work less hours and spend more time nurturing their children. The increasing complexity of society has resulted in the transformation of the scientific consciousness of the human race as puppets in the grip of natural or fate in an alienated mode of awareness (Harris, 1995). Social complexity has resulted in an increase in structural violence (Galtung, 1999) as a result of divisions, inequalities, and lack of equilibrium within social order (Foucault, 1976). A close look indicates that the very forces that appear to press people into molds and to force them to follow the herd are interlaced with the crying needs for creativeness, imagination, desire to be venturous, and great diversity of talent (Barnes, et.al, 1965). While we cannot transform the economy, we can control our response choices as educators to help “at risk” students achieve their highest potential
regardless of their circumstances. This is perhaps why understanding the influence of a teacher’s discipline/conflict style is an important key in stifling the cycle of violence “at risk” students encounter on a daily basis.
The research results obtained demonstrated that there were significant differences between each style and consequently, the discipline outcome. The results presented in Chapters five and six show quantitative and qualitative data results providing a detailed description of these events thus providing another possible indicator for school administrators to use prior to the start of the school year.
This research also provides yet another tool for analyzing teacher-student interaction relative to discipline however data indicates and supports evidence that the dilemma also lies in the structural and cultural realms of society. We continue to treat the symptom and not the disease; namely that the degree of social stratification that exists and continues to grow given our current economic growth patterns thereby supporting system designs that restrict individuality and human exploration.