go to


Chapter Eight: Middle Childhood

Section 8: Cooperation and Conflict


go to

Filipina Dance by the Baranga Dance Company at the Filipino Heritage Festival, Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose, CA, on Sunday, August 2, 1998.


Small systems are easier to master than large systems. This has two implications. Students should be exposed to systems as large and complex as their cognitive levels permit; most systems competencies should be practiced first on a small group, even dyadic basis.



The level of sophistication of a system is characterized in part by the methods used in resolving conflicts. In an anarchy, the individual prowess of the competitors determines the outcome. In an autocracy the relative power of the positions held by the antagonists determines the outcome. In a democracy, a solution that does the most good for the most people is sought. In a political friendship the solution which is best for the group is sought on a consensual basis.



A teacher should assess the level of conflict resolving ability on the part of each student, and then design intervention strategies which will tend to raise that level. A child who hits might instead by taught to express one's hostile feelings without acting them out. A child who expresses hostile feelings might be helped to see the perspective of others. A person who can assume another's perspective might practice creating solutions that are mutually satisfactory. The lessons should not be contrived. The teacher must be prepared in advance to deal with spontaneous occurrences of conflict.



The key competence that must be developed and refined during middle childhood is the ability to coordinate perspectives. This makes possible the higher forms of conflict resolution and, thus, social organization. It promotes effective communication, since if one understands two's perspective, then one is better able to speak in terms two will comprehend.



It is interesting to observe carefully young children who appear to be communicating or playing cooperatively. The play is often "parallel" rather than truly cooperative, and the apparent dialogues are really dual monologues. Thus, effective communication and truly cooperative play must be developed through continual peer interactions. Teacher modeling of more sophisticated problem solving techniques can facilitate the acquisition of skills that do not readily appear spontaneously.







Book Contents

Transcultural Friendship: Our Political Future


<<Previous Chapter 7

Education in Early Childhood

Chapter 8 Contents

Middle Childhood

Next Chapter 9>>

Adolescence and Education

<Previous Section

Democratic Education



Conflict and Cooperation

Next Section> 

Peer Interaction