Teaching in the Age of Diversity: Culture and Language Sources of Conflict and Strength in the Classroom


Teachers today are frequently faced with the challenge of effective instructional approaches in the age of multiculturalism, as well as the management and resolution of potential conflicts during their interactions with students who speak English as another language. This article examines the role of variant learning styles and the potential lack of understanding between teacher and student that can lead to conflict. Conflict and social construction theories serve as theoretical foundations in this discussion and emphasize the importance of meaning, symbolism, and interpretation. The impact and differentiation between low context, high context, individualistic, and collectivistic cultures are identified as influential variables in this process. Recommendations are offered from a critical pedagogical perspective to enhance student learning. Ethnocognitivism is also explored to demonstrate that different cognitive styles exist within language use and cultural context. Implications for teacher competence, future instructional and conflict management practices are presented.

Author Bio(s)

Alexia Georgakopoulos, is an Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution and Communications in the Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University, Florida. She is also the director and primary trainer for the Institute of Conflict Resolution and Communication, which is a premiere educational provider of conflict resolution and communication programs. Her training is based on two decades of academic work in the fields of communication and conflict resolution. She received her Ph.D. in Communication from Arizona State University. Her areas of expertise involve conflict resolution within organizational, intercultural, instructional, relational contexts. She teaches a number of courses in these areas such as mediation, facilitation, dispute systems design, research methods, and critical pedagogy. She works as a professional speaker and trainer for multinational organizations, school systems, healthcare organizations, governmental agencies, religious organizations, community-based organizations, and international organizations. She is a practicing Florida Supreme Court Certified County Mediator and Trainer. Also, she delivers mediation and facilitation workshops based on a variety of models. Dr. Georgakopoulos can be reached at georgako@nova.edu.

Dr. Tina Jaeckle, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Florida and has approximately 19 years of mental health experience with children, adults, and families. Dr. Jaeckle has completed a Master’s of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with a specialty track in the Behavioral Sciences from Nova Southeastern University, and recently completed a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution (specialty in crisis management) from the same institution. She is an Assistant Professor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida and is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family and Dependency Mediator and has trained extensively as an Primary Trainer and Substantive Expert in the areas of family dynamics, child abuse, and effectively managing issues within highconflict families. Dr. Jaeckle can be reached at tjaeckle@flagler.edu.


cognitive styles, conflict management and resolution, English, ethnocognitivism, language and culture, multiculturalism, teaching and learning

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