Tuesday, 4 December 2012


An essay submitted by Andrew William Panton, M.A., Dip.Ed. as course work on the Diploma in Education Management course at Bristol Polytechnic 1973-74.

What are the perceived sources of role conflict in educational organisations? Suggest practical remedies for dealing with such conflict.

The concept of role is important to all educational institutions as it is an essential factor in the analysis of the behaviour of individuals within organisations. Not only is the individual's role conception one of the most important determinants of his performance of that role, but the behaviour of others towards the occupant of a particular role depends on their expectations of how he will perform it. Role behaviour is the result of tremendously conflicting pressures on the role occupant, but these pressures also lead to stresses and strains which contribute to inconsistencies and variations in performance. Role conflict is particularly liable to attach itself to roles where there is a high commitment to other people; as teachers are generally so committed it is particularly important for there to be a thorough appreciation in educational organisations of the sources of role conflict.

The central feature of all role conflict is incompatibility. In his book, 'Role Conflict and the Teacher', Gerald R.Grace writes ' ... role conflict, role strain or role stress are all concerned with problems for the individual which arise as the result of role incompatibilities'. These conflicts appear in different forms: conflicting pressures from different groups; ambiguity in role prescription when roles are new; conflict between role demands and personality needs; and the playing of two incompatible roles concurrently. There is, however, a basic distinction between 'inter-role' conflicts and 'intra-role' conflicts. The former refers to conflicts arising from the simultaneous performance of contradictory roles, while the latter stems from conflicts and insecurities that arise within a specific role. In common with all people teachers suffer inter-role conflicts: they are husbands and fathers as well as teachers. However, we are most concerned with the teacher's intra-role conflicts, that is, with conflicts which are intrinsic to the teacher's role and the circumstances in which it is performed. Potential areas of conflict for the teacher are the culture in which he lives, the organisation in which he works, the community whom he serves, the 'role set' which send him expectations, and the difference between his own conception of the role and the actual perception that he has of it.

In his influential article, 'The Teacher's Role - a sociological analysis', Bryan R. Wilson identified six particular sources of intra-role conflict that affect educational organisations: the diffuse nature of the teacher's role, the diverse expectations of the role set, the marginal role of some teachers, inadequate support by the institutional framework, the clash between commitment to the role and career orientation, and the divergent values of society. Empirical research by sociologists in this field in Britain is somewhat sparse. However Frank Musgrove and Philip H.Taylor in 'Society and the Teacher's Role' have carried out a valuable survey into the diverse expectations of the role set, and Gerald R.Grace in 'Role Conflict and the Teacher' has researched four of the other five areas, largely following the guidelines laid down by Wilson. We shall now consider these six areas of perceived conflict in the teacher's role in the light of the research findings.

To the extent that the socialisation of children is one of their main functions, the task of teachers is unspecific. Wilson writes that 'The role of obligation is diffuse, difficult to delimit, and the activities of the role are highly diverse'. The lower the age of pupils the more diverse the role of teachers is; in primary schools it is particularly difficult to delimit their functions. However, even in secondary schools the teacher is expected to encourage, to act as a friend, a counsellor and a model, and these requirements introduce a considerable diffuseness into the secondary teacher's role as well. In addition, all teachers are expected to display considerable warmth and affective concern in their relations with their pupils, an affectivity that contrasts sharply with the affective neutrality of other professional men, such as lawyers, doctors and architects, and because the teacher has a moral commitment to his pupils it is very difficult for his services to be specified. The diffuseness that arises can therefore be a potential source of considerable conflict, as, in the absence of any clear demarcation lines, the teacher may over-exert himself. Furthermore, the role of the teacher is not only diffuse, it is also made up of diverse and often contradictory tasks. In his book, 'The Role of the Teacher', Professor Eric Hoyle sees the three main functions of the teacher in an industrialised society as instruction, socialisation and evaluation. These diverse obligations are often incompatible. The teacher is expected to be both a warm personality and a disciplinary agent, a friend and confidante, and an objective assessor, and the increasingly specialised nature of his instructional tasks make affective relations harder to achieve. Wilson sees the trends towards specialisation and bureaucratisation within the educational system as leading towards greater neutrality in the teacher's role, and a greater emphasis on the instruction and evaluative aspects of it, at the expense of the socialising functions. The selection function is particularly apparent: ' ... the teacher becomes also a social selector, preparing people in the capacities in the terms of which selection will occur'. Wilson is echoed by Musgrove and Taylor when they state that 'The teacher of today and tomorrow is necessarily an assessor'. The diffuseness and diversity of the teacher's role are a potential source of enormous role conflict, and one might expect it to be productive of a wide discrepancy between the individual's role conception and his perception of his real performance, as well as leading to considerable role ambiguity. In fact, the survey carried out by Grace indicted this area to be the least significant source of role conflict amongst the four sources studied. However, men felt the conflict more than women, and secondary modern more than grammar school teachers. Grace believed that the conflict tended to show itself most clearly in a perceived need for knowledge of results or to know the appropriate criteria of good achievement. The problem of diffuseness and diversity is also apparent as regards headteachers. In English schools, headteachers are expected to be leaders, and indeed see themselves very much in this light, but as R.G.Owens asserts in his book, 'Organisational Behaviour in Schools', much of their time is actually spent on administration, a tendency which the growth of large educational units and the increasing bureaucratisation of the educational structure tend to confirm. Owens points out that these two functions are are incompatible, for, while leadership involves initiating changes in the goals of the organisation or in its methods of goal achievement, administration is concerned to maintain the organisation and to keep its interrelated parts functioning smoothly. Thus, while administration is essentially a conservative force, leadership is a radical process. This intra-role incompatibility in the job of the headteacher probably causes much more conflict than is actually perceived.

Because it is almost always perceived, the diverse expectations of the role set are perhaps the classic source of role conflict. In his work the role incumbent interacts with a number of people, both within and without the organisation, with whom he has contacts and to whom he has obligations. These are his 'role senders', and they communicate role expectations to him. These role senders include superordinates, subordinates and colleagues, and, to the extent that their activities impinge on the role incumbent, they are referred to as his 'role set'. The role set of the teacher is highly diverse: headmaster, colleagues (both senior and junior), school governors or managers, the local education authority, the Department of Education and Science, pupils, parents, other educational institutions, and, in the case of further education, employers are all senders of different expectations which create conflict in the mind of the teacher as to how he should conceive his role. The strain that the conflicting pressures of the role set cause is made worse, according to Wilson, by the diffuseness of the teacher's role: ... the role set of the teacher is especially formidable because the role is diffuse and and because everyone in contemporary society has ready opinions about what the teacher should and does do'. In addition, the individual teacher's conception of his role and his personality needs are added sources of conflict. The main research relating to teacher role conflict has been carried out by Musgrove and Taylor in this very area. Their researches reveal the way in which teacher's exposure to role conflict varies with the type of the school in which they teacher, and the social context of the school. Secondary teachers placed greatest emphasis on the instructional aspects of their jobs but primary teachers, while doing the same, perceived pupil expectations as focusing on the personality requirements of the role. The expectations of parents for teachers in junior schools were sharply differentiated by the distinction of social class:

' ... parents in the two areas were sharply distinguished in their expectations of teachers in the junior school. On the municipal housing estate parents tended to place more responsibility on the school for training the child's behaviour - in part at least because they felt that teachers were more effective than themselves; in the well-to-do residential area parents placed more emphasis on the home.'
(Frank Musgrove and Philip H.Taylor, 'Society and the Teacher's Role', p.41)

Musgrove's enquiries also highlighted the difference between the qualities of the teacher most valued by children and the qualities most valued by children themselves. While the teachers, especially those who were non-graduates, thought the personal qualities of teachers of very great importance, children of all ages saw teaching skill as the most valuable attribute of the teacher. Headteachers are also considerable sources of conflict, as most teachers perceived the head as emphasising disciplinary abilities, whereas they would put the emphasis elsewhere. Musgrove and Taylor also showed that teachers see severe conflict between their own role priorities and their perceptions of parents' expectations, but indicated also that this conflict is not borne out empirically. While teachers put a high priority on moral training and a low one on social advance, they perceived parents as having reverse expectations. In fact, Musgrove and Taylor found that both teachers and parents were substantially in agreement. This finding confirmed the work of B.J. Biddle at al. in 'Contemporary Research on Teacher Effectiveness'; they suggested that teachers often see more conflict between the expectations of the role set and their own job conception than actually exists. However, role conceptions remain a very potent source of role conflict for the teacher, whether they actually represent the expectations of the role set or not. P.S.Burnham's  investigations into the role of the deputy head in secondary schools showed that deputy heads in secondary modern schools were exposed to more conflict due to their 'middle of the road' position between headteachers and assistants than their grammar school counterparts were. This work was confirmed by Musgrove and Taylor, both in their indication that the headteacher is a major source of teacher role conflict and in their finding that the type of school is an important variable.

A less widespread, but for some a very poignant source of conflict, is the marginal role accorded to some teachers within educational organisations. Most role occupants need to feel that their activities are important and central to the organisations in which they work and anxiety is likely to arise in circumstances when they perceive that their status is only marginal in the eyes of superiors or colleagues. Wilson illustrates this conflict by reference to the teacher of liberal studies in technical colleges, where 'his subject is thought of -by colleagues and clientele alike - as a trimming, a piece of whitewash with no significance for the real business of the institution'. Education officers in the armed forces and industry are susceptible to the same source of role conflict. In secondary schools marginality of role is perceived in terms of the status of the teacher's subject specialism. Teacher of art, music, handicrafts, domestic science, commercial subjects, technical drawing, needlework and physical education all suffer problems of marginality due to their subjects being 'extras', sometimes optional and often non-examinable, and due also to their role being seen as one of 'instruction' as opposed to education. Teachers of mathematics, modern languages and science, on the other hand, are perceived as enjoying high status on account of their subject specialisms. Grace's research confirmed that role conflict was felt by teachers of marginal subjects, and that this conflict is very severe in the case of some individuals. Musgrove and Taylor also found that subject specialisms were ranked in a hierarchy of esteem by teachers. They also suggested that a teacher's self-concept is closely related to his subject, and that these subjects cause problems of status and role: 'Academic subjects have become highly organised social systems with heavily defended boundaries'. Marginal status is not only associated in secondary schools with the status of a particular subject; it is also connected with the preference of the headteacher as expressed in allocation of time, resources, staffing scales and the calibre of pupils selected to study a particular subject. Classics, while still enjoying high academic status, has gradually acquired a marginal position in most secondary schools. Teachers of marginal or minority subjects are all likely to feel considerable role anxiety.

The next source of role conflict that we shall consider arises from circumstances in which the role is inadequately supported by the institutional framework in which it is performed. Conflict in this fashion can appear if teachers find that the way society treats them, and the institutional arrangements that are made for them, clash with their desired professional image. This role vulnerability is a particular problem in America, where schools are subject to considerable bureaucratic control, but even in Britain teachers are very exposed to public pressure because one of their main processes, socialisation, is a public one. Grace's survey of this problem indicated that, while many teachers perceived role vulnerability as a source of conflict, only a few had personally experienced it. Where it did exist, it was generally found among teachers in secondary modern schools. Graduate teachers in all schools showed less vulnerability than their certificated colleagues, and such vulnerability was closely related to the marginal status of subject specialisms. Grace found no evidence of any conflict caused by an overbearing bureaucracy or by the lack of professional treatment. The teacher's autonomy is greatly valued by educational organisations. Of the teacher, Musgrove and Taylor write that 'He decides (perhaps in consultation with his immediate colleagues at his school) the content of the curriculum; the human values he presents to his pupils; the very scope of his duties'.

A more serious source of teacher role conflict in Britain today is that which comes from the clash between commitment to the role and commitment to the career-line. Grace found that this was the most highly rated source of role conflict perceived by teachers. Career orientation cuts across a commitment to the role in circumstances in which most teachers accept that a continued commitment to a particular situation is desirable. Unfortunately, it is clear that an individual teacher is judged by his superordinates in terms of his career orientation. Wilson states that 'There is an inducement in this situation to make right impressions on significant people rather than significant impressions on the right people - the children'. It is also perceived that mobility and promotion are connected. In his investigations Grace found that this conflict was felt most keenly by men teaching in secondary modern schools. They felt both the commitment to remain in a particular situation and pressing economic needs for promotion, and greatly resented the 'upwardly mobile' teachers who 'floated' through their schools.

 An even more deeply rooted source of role conflict, and one which is endemic in a developing industrialised world, is conflict that arises from the divergent values of society. In the past the teacher was expected to transmit the values of the community to his pupils. In an age of value-consensus such a function was possible, but in a society where such consensus no longer exists the potential conflicts of the teacher are very clear. Hoyle writes that ' ... modern societies are perhaps characterised less by a consensus of values than a conflict between values. A wide variety of moral, political and religious beliefs are "available" and this variety presents the teacher with many dilemmas'. According to Wilson, the teacher's representation of moral virtue, integrity and sensitivity are at odds with the achievement-orientation and commercial exploitation of modern society. This pluralism in values is especially difficult for the teacher as the new or emergent values are often as those of youth, and the teacher is seen as the voice of traditional values. The widening gap between generations and the and the decline in respect for established authorities contribute towards further weakening of the moral authority of the teacher. Wilson also sees the mass media as an powerful source of alternative values to those of the teacher, representing as they do escapist material and success by quick methods. Furthermore, the values of the teacher are often the norms of the middle class and, as Hoyle points out, in an age of growing heterogeneity in educational groupings this is a further source of conflict for the teacher: 'The most difficult task of the teacher is to encourage high motivation amongst working class children without at the same time encouraging a wholly individualistic and 'rat race' attitude to life'.

We have now considered the six categories of role conflict highlighted by Wilson. Available research indicates that the extent to which these categories are perceived or experienced by individual teachers depends upon a variety of mediating variables, classified by Grace into the characteristics of the conflict, the characteristics of the teacher and the characteristics of the school. The characteristics of the conflict refer to the type, and the intensity, of the conflict and, in the case of teachers, whether it involves problems of 'moral orientation' or 'self-orientation'. The characteristics of the teacher include age, sex, qualifications, subject specialism, personality, and strategies for resolving conflict. The characteristics of the school refer to the size, organisation, clientele, social class context, and to the characteristics of the headteacher and the goals he sets. The evidence suggests that conflict affects men more than women teachers, teachers in secondary modern schools more than those in grammar schools, and teachers in working class areas more than in middle class districts. In secondary schools the subject specialism taught appears as an important variable, and the headteacher is also seen as a significant inducer of conflict. The interrelations of these variables are clearly likely to be very complex, and the problems of role conflict are deeply rooted and intractable.

It is also apparent that the tremendous rate of organisational and educational change in the secondary school system has serious implications as far as teacher role conflict is concerned. Teachers are continually faced with changing circumstances, and the variables of a new situation are often more likely to induce conflict than those of a previous one. The movement towards area comprehensive schools causes particular problems of conflict for teachers accustomed to the traditional atmosphere of the grammar school. The diffuseness of the role increases, the expectations of the role set become more diverse, and, as educational groupings become more heterogeneous, the problem of divergent values becomes greater. Moreover, the greater size of comprehensive schools introduces changes in educational climate, and may lead to a growth of bureaucratisation that threatens the autonomy so highly prizes by teachers. Curriculum development and new teaching methods are also potential sources of new conflict for some teachers. Team teaching and inter-disciplinary enquiry cut across subject specialisms, and may therefore introduce a further element of diffuseness into the situation, as well as threatening the teacher's self-concept. The importance of the consequences of change for the role of the teacher is becoming increasingly apparent.

The consequences of unresolved role conflict should be fully appreciated by organisations. Conflict can sometimes be beneficial as it provides an impetus towards necessary change, but it is only beneficial if these changes actually come about. Continuing conflict may lead to abandonment either of the role or of commitment to it, job dissatisfaction and career dissatisfaction. In addition, role conflict produces tensions and uncertainties commonly associated with inconsistent organisational behaviour. This inconsistency or unpredictability often leads to further tensions and inter-personal strife between incumbents of complementary roles, thereby preventing them from establishing satisfactory role relationships. Inevitably, optimum performance of the role incumbent is inhibited, and conflict leads directly to impaired competence and effectiveness. In extreme cases, where conflict is intense, it can cause severe personal anxiety, and even illness. According to W.Charters, role conflict in the teaching situation may lead to a position where 'the teacher is likely to belittle the accomplishment of education and to take a cynical attitude towards his work, the school system, and educational ideas and ideals'. It is clearly vital for all educational organisations to seek new and effective methods of resolving these role conflicts which so threaten their operations.  

Different strategies can be adopted to resolve situations of role conflict, and individuals differ according to personality as to which type of strategy they use. Most people adapt to incompatible expectations according to some principle of choice that they adopt. Some will adapt to conflict on the grounds of what is more expedient in their career interest; some will decide to base their actions on the grounds of what are the more legitimate moral claims on them, disregarding other factors. Most people steer a middle course, but a compromise is usually only a temporary solution and conflict shortly reappears. An even less satisfactory strategy for resolving role conflict is role retreatism. This can involve abandonment of one's commitment to the role, or the abandonment of a particular commitment due to failure. The latter may sometimes be a beneficial response in a situation where retreat is wise, but all too often role retreatism is a prelude to feelings of pessimism and cynicism which eventually lead to movement or the abandonment of the role altogether. Most research on the consequences of role conflict has dealt with areas where the conflict has not been resolved. Those who continue to perform a role in circumstances where conflict or ambiguity exist develop dysfunctional ways of coping with the problems. Joking, non-discussion of the problem or ritualistic behaviour are methods which permit role performance with a minimum of actual conflict. All these strategies are unsatisfactory as they fail to deal with the problems. However, in some circumstances conflict acts as a stimulus to the role occupant in seeking to change or redefining the incompatible situation in which he is placed. J.W.Getzels has written that 'certain types of conflict, like certain types of necessity, give rise to productive transformations'. We shall now consider what can be done to resolve role conflict in educational organisations.

The problems of role commitment and role vulnerability can only really be resolved outside educational organisations. They are very much conflicts which only societies as a whole can deal with adequately, sonce they involve the whole structure of the teaching profession and of the schools in which they work.Teachers as private citizens or as members of professional associations and unions can apply pressure towards these ends, but as teachers they can also do something inside the schools to help resolve these conflicts. If empirical research indicates that the widespread impression that the rate of mobility amongst teachers is dysfunctional is correct, then the structure of the teaching profession must change in order to reward the committed teacher. Larger schools should create possibilities of internal promotion and job variation, and higher salaries could lessen the extent to which the mobility of young teachers world be tolerated. Four or five year contracts could then be insisted upon  in normal circumstances, but this is manifestly impossible in view of  the present salary structure of teachers. The fact that, in the absence of any real means of assessment, variety of experience, and therefore mobility, is an advantage in the promotion of teachers, could be alleviated by the development of evaluation methods that would vindicate the teacher committed to remaining in a particular school or post. Such a development is urgently required or there is a particularly high level of conflict caused by the clash between role commitment and career orientation.

Role vulnerability was not discovered in the studies undertaken by Grace to be the subject of high role conflict, but nevertheless teachers by working with social forces can contribute to resolving some of the difficulties in this area. Frank Musgrove was critical of the considerable autonomy claimed by the teacher and delegated to him by the community: 'He claims the right to disregard his client which no other professional enjoys. Unlike the lawyer or the architect he is the arbiter of ends as well as the expert in means'. At the same time as being the teacher's glory this autonomy is also perhaps the major source of his weakness; schools are especially poor at public relations. The consequence is, as Musgrove points out in his book 'Patterns of power and authority in English Education' that 'Schools are underpowered in relation to the goals they try to attain'. Musgrove and Taylor believe that the organisation of education should come under the effective control of parents as consumers, and that 'the local authorities would go into business, offering an educational service to the nation's children which would be sought after or rejected according to its merits'. Such schools would be powerful as they would only exist because they enjoyed popular approval and support. (Such support might come through a voucher system.) Musgrove strongly disapproves of the recent trend towards the area comprehensive school, and hopes that the system he advocates would encourage diversity rather than uniformity in the educational system with regard to the goals and priorities set by schools. Musgrove's ideas have much to recommend them from the viewpoint of the resolution of role conflict: divergent schools enjoying a strong measure of popular support should reduce conflict from the role set, role vulnerability and value conflict. However, such a system is probably economically unrealistic, and, as Grace states, 'a serious reduction in teacher autonomy would probably be disastrous'. Although he concedes that modifications in the autonomy of the individual teacher are necessary to facilitate innovations such as team teaching and inter-disciplinary enquiry, Grace feels that a reduction in the autonomy of schools might lead to a decrease in institutional support of teachers, and that a reduction in the freedom of individual teachers would adversely affect motivation and job-satisfaction. The answer might lie in a compromise: schools should become more responsive to their environment, and a determined effort should be made to raise the professional status of teachers. The failure of schools either to neutralise or to utilise the environments in which they operate greatly weakens their impact upon the community. Greater links with industry and with parents through Parent-Teacher Associations should help to rectify this situation and provide schools with valuable feedback. Empirical studies would also make schools more aware of the real expectations of their 'clients'. If schools are to show themselves more sensitive to their environments, it will also be necessary to increase the status of teachers in order to avoid role vulnerability developing. The status of a profession is reflected in its pay scales; if teachers are to be in a position to lobby for larger salaries, they must be in a position to demonstrate their professional effectiveness more clearly. Musgrove would like to see teachers concentrating more on educational means, and therefore specialists in educational technology. At the same time, the devising and introduction of evaluative techniques in the teaching profession are urgently required; examination results alone are insufficient  to assess the effectiveness of individual teachers. The movement towards an all-graduate entry to the teaching profession would also assist in raising the status of teachers, so long as academic standards at universities are maintained. If the developments outlined in this paragraph come about, the autonomy of the teacher might perhaps decline, but his real influence would probably increase greatly.

Although many of the teacher's role conflicts cannot be resolved solely by action taken within educational organisations themselves, schools can nevertheless do much to alleviate the strain of these conflicts on teachers by developing strategies specifically aimed at reducing conflicts. The first essential is to receive more information about the role set. Musgrove and Taylor's discovery that the discrepancy between parents' expectations and teachers' role priorities was much less than teachers perceived, indicates that much unnecessary strain can be cause by misperceptions. More research is required if schools are to deal adequately with pressures from their role sets. At the same time more research is necessary to estimate the effects on teachers of changes in schools:

' ... there is a need for "planned change" in educational organisations which monitors the consequences of innovation not solely in terms of teacher reaction and teacher satisfaction. While it is clear that educational systems do not exist merely to provide teachers with maximum satisfaction - it is equally clear that attempts at innovation which assume that the teacher will "fit in" with the latest blueprint are doomed to failure. Any serious attempt to introduce change needs to be accompanied by an assessment of probable consequences for the teacher, programmes of reorientation and preparation and on-going monitoring of actual consequences'.
(Gerald R.Grace, 'Role Conflict and the Teacher', p.107)

The provision of adequate data on which to  base one's policy decisions is one of the important tasks of the manager. If a frontal assault is to be made on the problems of the role conflict of teachers, effective leadership and management by headquarters is the first prerequisite. The first essential for headteachers is that they should be trained for the job, and that their training should include a thorough knowledge of social systems and organisational behaviour theories. Secondly, they should devote less time to administration and more to leadership, possibly by delegating as many routine decisions as possible. In the exercise of their leadership role they should seek, in conjunction with all members of their staffs, to reach clear objectives for their schools. Decisions on priorities should reduce the conflict caused by diffuseness and diversity, as well as  deflecting the strain caused by the varying expectations of the role set. It might be that teachers would do well to concentrate on their instructional and selection functions, and to leave pastoral matters to those more qualified to deal with them. At the same time, as Musgrove and Taylor suggest, a new specialisation between 'front-line' teachers and 'back-room' specialists in evaluation and resource provision might be desirable. Such a development would imply a greater need for teamwork, which the headteacher should emphasise. He should ensure that all the necessary functional needs of the group are fulfilled, and that every member of the staff feels that he has an important part to play in a school which has clear objectives. As Grace points out, the headteacher should also be aware of the need to provide knowledge of results for those teachers whose role is particularly diffuse - usually the teachers of average or below-average pupils - , and recognition for those who feel vulnerable because of the marginal nature of their subject specialisms. The conflicts of the latter might also be reduced, and their feelings of belonging to the team enhanced, by specifically including them in team-teaching and curriculum development projects. To reduce conflict caused by the lack of institutional support, the headteacher should ensure the provision of both managerial and social support for teachers, and especially support when their authority over pupils is challenged. Related to problems of role vulnerability is teachers' concern over professionalism; to reduce conflict here the headteacher should aim to involve the staff in the process of shared decision making whenever appropriate. The use of a definite strategic model is useful; the 'Paradigm for shared decision making in the school', contained in R.G.Owens' book, 'Organizational Behaviour in Schools', is one example. In general, effective management should contribute greatly to reducing role conflicts in all areas.

The value of discussion must also be emphasised. The airing, and frank discussion, of problems may by themselves reduce the tensions created by role conflict. Teachers would thereby discover that they were not alone in suffering strains and stresses. Such discussion would indicate the need for problems to be resolved, and facilitate the introduction of strategies likely to do so. Discussion could also be instrumental in coping with problems caused by the divergent values of society. Grace asserts that 'parents, teachers and senior pupils should explicitly recognise value problems or conflicts and should engage in open and frank discussion of the issues'. The involvement of all in these problems would then become apparent. The teacher would cease to be 'an isolated agent caught in the crossfire of generations', and appear as one involved in collaboration with others in a rational exploration of alternative values.

The teacher's role conflicts are largely the consequence of social and economic changes in a world that is continually developing. As the world will continue to change, these conflicts can never ultimately be resolved. However, a strategy that combines effective leadership with open discussion and continuous research should ensure that such conflicts are not only held in check, but that they are the dynamic through which the services of our schools are refined by necessary educational and organisational change.


Grace, G.R.                    'Society and the Teacher's Role', (Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1969.

                                       'Role Conflict and the Teacher', (Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1972.

Hoyle, E.                         'The Role of the Teacher', (Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1969.

Musgrove, F. and
       Taylor, P.H.             'Society and the Teacher's Role, (Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1969.

Owens, R.G.                   'Organizational Behaviour in Schools, (Prentice-Hall), 1970.

Wilson, B.R.                   'The Teacher's Role - a sociological analysis', (BJS 13(i): 15-32), 1962.    

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