Term of Award

Spring 2001

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

William Reynolds

Committee Member 2

G. Lane Van Tassell

Abstract

This is a narrative inquiry of the implementation of conflict resolution programs in a south Georgia county's schools. The purpose of this study was to explore conflict resolution and to help students, educators, parents, and community members recognize the complex dimensions of conflict and conflict resolution programs. A major component of my project was to present options that could open up avenues to further peace and safety within our society. My hope is that programs such as the ones explored herein will be instituted in our schools and that the skills learned by students will be carried over into their home and work environments.

Conflict permeates our every- day life, and it can be resolved in so many different ways. Recently, conflict has escalated to violent acts in schools and societies. In Georgia, violence has become an increasing phenomenon in schools, homes, and communities.

I conducted my study in schools in a south Georgia county that contributed to the success of a conflict resolution program, which was designed to enable students to mediate conflicts among themselves. During this process, I collected narrative accounts of the involvement of students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators, and stakeholders in implementing such a program. This program of study was derived from my thirteen years' experience of conflict resolution in teaching. I shared my stories and the stories of others to search for the autobiographical roots of my inquiry. Experience is the starting point of narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000). Connelly and Clandinin's narrative work is an inspiration and framework for this study. Planting myself in narrative inquiry enables me to explore experiences of conflict resolution within historical, temporal, and physical contexts (Phillion & He, 2001).

My inquiry into conflict resolution is an ever-changing journey constantly evolving with life in school and society. I view my inquiry as seeds being planted throughout my life, growing and evolving into who I am today. With proper care, this study will sprout, grow, and bloom into something very meaningful. Narrative methodology is like a garden with theory and practice planted together as "it bridges theory and practice and makes research more relevant to practitioners" (Phillion & He, 2001, p. 14).

Nel Noddings's theory of caring is the centrifugal force behind this study. I studied the theory of moral education and explored the interconncctedness of holistic and humanistic educational theories. "All the aims and values that are desirable in education are themselves moral" (Dewey, 1916. p.417). I also examined character education and searched for its connection with caring and conflict resolution in schools and societies.

In order to understand conflict resolution. I participated in training and observations. I conducted interviews with the school superintendent, curriculum director, administrators, principals, teachers, resource officers, counselors, students, and parents. This study offers opportunities for students to develop life skills, improve school climate, make connections among school, home, and community, and improve the quality of life in schools and societies.

This research has helped me to explore my own theory of conflict resolution. As my own theory emerges, the vision of intertwining circles continues to develop. The circles represent home, school, and community with care being the connecting circle of the three entities.

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