London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Diverse ways of creating classroom communities for constructive discussions of conflict: Cases from Canadian secondary schools

Author(s) Bickmore, K. & Kovalchuk, S.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2012  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Creating Communities: Local, National and Global  
Age group -  
This qualitative study compares the ways in which four teachers, in publicly funded Canadian schools, facilitated dialogue about conflictual issues. Some offered only limited support for the development and exercise of democratic agency, especially for less-confident and marginalised students. Mandated curriculum pressures, and the consequent sense of time scarcity, limited opportunities for agentic, horizontal student-centred dialogue. However, institutional support and some teaching strategies mitigated this challenge. Linking social conflict topics with students’ own lives, well-organized small group work, and the explicit teaching of constructive conflict communication norms and skills improved diverse students’ opportunities to engage in democratic dialogue with peers. Keywords: conflictual issues dialogue, student agency, diversity, secondary teaching, democratic education

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