‘Use Your Words:’ Reconsidering the Language of Conflict in the Early Years

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This article explores the nature of classroom conflict as language practice. The authors describe the enactment of conflict events in one kindergarten classroom and analyze the events in order to identify the language practices teachers use, considering teachers' desires for language use in relation to conflict and exploring the nature of the interplay between what is said to be desired and the implicit messages of the lived experience of conflict. The authors describe the nature of conflict events as apology ritual and suggest that this practice is reflective of a way of framing conflict as destructive, illustrating the way in which the notion of ‘using words' situates the language of conflict as a conflict resolution convention. They argue that there are complex and contradictory underlying assumptions at play in conflict events and position them within larger school discipline and developmentally appropriate practice discourses. Finally, they close the article with a consideration of alternative perspectives on classroom conflict events.

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Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, v. 12, issue 3, p. 198-211