Conflict and Confrontation
in the Classroom

[Sean O'Flynn of Cork Meeting has co-authored a book Conflict and Confrontation in the Classroom. Friends might remember Sean as one of the three Friends who gave the 1999 IYM Public Lecture. Below, he gives details about his new book.]

Reflections on current practice.

On Wednesday 26th April 2000 the Minister for Education Dr Michael Woods launched a new book for teachers at the Teachers Union of Ireland conference in Tralee.

Conflict and Confrontation in the Classroom examines the issue of classroom management in a modern social setting. The book seeks to identify and analyse some of the different classroom management practices used by teachers in post-primary schools in Ireland today. The authors hope the work will help to provoke discussion among experienced teachers on the evaluation of the various skills and techniques that they employ in their day-to-day work with young people.

Student teachers in particular will welcome this publication, as it is the first book in Ireland to examine what practising teachers actually do to establish and maintain the kind of classroom discipline which is a prerequisite to teaching the curriculum.

In recent years, principals have experienced two opposing approaches by teachers to classroom management. One group of teachers are more focused on authoritarian control options, which have the virtues of simplicity and immediacy to recommend them. The more conciliatory psychological group tend to be short on specifics. These divisions among the teaching staff find expression in the vocabulary that different teachers use when referring to difficult students. One side talks of certain students being "very negative, sneaky, a bad influence on the others" etc. The other side speaks of children who are disadvantaged, hurt, needy or alienated. Neither side has a monopoly on concern, care or efficiency. Both sides have their successful case histories and both blame the other when things go wrong.

Conflict and Confrontation in the Classroom seeks to integrate the traditional ways of functioning with the more modern approaches and techniques that have emerged from the fields of personnel management, counselling practices and the new understanding of the person, emanating from modern psychology.

The early sections of the book describe teaching as craft; a process through which skills are employed in order to arrive at preconceived ends. Later sections show that, in many respects, teaching is a creative art in which the end achieved is emergent, discovered through action. There are chapters devoted to the young teacher at the beginning of his/her career and interesting sections on how teachers can mind themselves over the years.

This book is a welcome addition to the literature on teaching in Ireland and is a valuable contribution to meeting the needs of principal teachers trying to lead their teaching staff in a post-modern society.


Sean O'Flynn, B.Sc., H.D.E., M.Ed., has taught Science and Maths for 29 years in Secondary, Vocational and Community schools. He teaches at the Community School, Bishopstown, Cork and lectures part-time on the H.D.E. Teaching Studies Programme at the Education Department, U.C.C., Cork.

Harry Kennedy, NT., B.A., H.D.E. worked as a Primary School teacher for ten years before moving to the Community School, Bishopstown, where he has taught English for the past 17 years. He is a qualified remedial teacher, has studied Reality Therapy and has worked in special education. He integrates these perspectives in his teaching method.

For orders contact:
Paradigm Press, Gortnaclough, Ballinhassig, Co. Cork. Ireland.
Telephone (088) 2114089.
Price: IR£8 plus IR£1.20 postage