Building Cooperation and Managing Conflict
Human relationship is a vital part of man’s life; every single day we interact with other people. Nevertheless, relationships can either be good or bad to some extent. Particularly in schools, students manifest conflicts with one another from time to time. Even among the young, disputes arise – which is not good – and this should be addressed accordingly. Cooperation and coordination must be implemented within the classroom.
The classroom basically becomes a competition between the young students. Desiring to gain the favor of the teachers or instructors, the students endeavor to be ahead of and better than the rest. This could be in a form of having one student not willing to teach another student for the sake of recognition and the reward. This is also in a form of having members of a group disagree with others’ ideas and decisions – resulting into group failures instead of accomplishment.
One strategy that can be implemented in such conditions – wherein students do not want to extend their knowledge to others – is having group activities. One possible way through which the students will bring up their ideas [for others] is this. The objective of such activities should be to make them realize that the better way to success is having their efforts unified. Acknowledging that they all differ in skills, talents, and intellectual capabilities, such diversity – when brought together – will make up a greater effort.
However, many disagree with this strategy for cooperation; many parents and teachers have misconceptions about cooperative learning brings that makes them dissent to it (Deutsch, 1993). For instance, they assert that the grading in cooperative learning is unfair since those who did much of the work will receive the same grade with those who did less. Besides, some lazy students within the group will still have grade despite their lack of cooperation. But this is not what cooperative learning is meant for. Here, students will learn to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of others. They will know how to utilize each other’s capabilities. Students [and others] should know that what matters is not how great or less each others’ work was but whether the need, goal, or objective was fulfilled or not. Regarding those who are lazy within the group, the teacher/facilitator in the cooperative learning should require the group to list down the contribution of each member. In this way, the uncooperative persons may be compelled to work.
As aforementioned, conflicts may still arise within group activities. This happens when students have conflicting ideas and decisions. Even assigning a group leader to facilitate in the group activity cannot be effective all the time. The best and only thing a teacher must do in such conditions is to instruct the students on how to deal with such disputes. Often, the reason students disagree with others’ ideas is because they want to stick to their own thoughts and decisions. Bias, in most cases, is always the reason for disagreement. Another cause of such disputes is ethnocentrism or any partiality. Other students would wilfully disagree with students coming from different race, cultural background, socioeconomic status, and other differences. Making stereotypes is also another case. For instance, a student who shows lack of potential in some subject areas may be considered by others incapable in other areas as well. Students must be taught to respect others, along with their ideas, no matter their differences may be.
There are more causes of disputes among the students. Nevertheless, what basically makes having cooperative learning and managing conflicts hard is the character inherent in the students. Man is naturally selfish. Through cooperative learning, students must learn to respect and include others in their endeavors. They must work and relate with others intellectually, not merely emotionally. They must consider others’ positions and make appropriate actions necessarily. The benefit of all these will be the unity of everyone which leads to better outcomes.
Deutsch, M. (1993). Educating for a Peaceful World. American Psychologist, 48 (5), 510-517.