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Conflicts in Culture

Strategies to Understand and Resolve the Issues

 Book Review - Conflicts in Culture

by Sandra Harris and Steve Jenkins, Rowman & Littlefield; Lanham, Md., 2013, 91 pp., $35 hardcover, $17.95 softcover

Sandra Harris and Steve Jenkins collaborated to write a unique and valuable book about a topic that has a significant impact on various aspects of school campuses today: conflict due to culture. Cultural conflict is seen across the United States; there is no one place that does not have representation of a variety of cultures. According to the authors, in 2011 Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and other minorities accounted for 50.4 percent of births in the United States.

 As the demographics of schools make such diverse changes, everyone on campus must be ready to work with and understand students of varying cultures. Harris and Jenkins “changing from a white, middle-class population to a population in which children of poverty and color make up the majority is not a problem; problems occur when school leaders and stakeholders do not have the cultural understandings necessary to resolve conflicts. Do you want to leave this in or take out? Or paraphrase?

 Giving leaders conflict resolution strategies for their toolbox, Harris and Jenkins discuss a continuum of five cultural locations that individuals experience in order to get to a cultural community: deficit, denial, discovery, celebrationand conscience.

 A well-written and thought-provoking read, Conflicts in Culture is a phenomenal book that can be used in graduate educational leadership courses and should be read by all current school administrators/leaders. Beginning administrators who need guidance or veteran administrators who simply need to improve their conflict resolutions skills should take time to review the case studies, strategies and activities. Following the lead of Steven Covey who encourages leaders to begin with the end in mind, Harris and Jenkins remind us that when leaders choose to do what they can to fix a conflict, resolution is more likely to occur.

 Reviewed by Priscilla A. Boerger, associate professor, College of Education, Lynn University, Boca Raton, Fla.

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