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Communication in Schools


In class, we have learnt a lot on the communication process. Communication serves its purpose in various institutions. In this paper, I will be looking at communication within a school setting with an emphasis on classroom interaction in the movie Dangerous minds. The focus will be on persuasive speaking, functions of communication and resolution of conflicts with support material from class, the film and peer reviewed articles about the topics of concern.


A world without education is impossible. Communication rules our daily lives because we are human who have needs and those needs can only be fulfilled through human communication. The movie Dangerous mind is about a school and a particular class of students struggling to graduate. They have a new teacher who struggles to understand them and therefore there is total need for proper communication channels if the new teacher is to understand the school system and the students and help them graduate. The students also feel the need to communicate their grievances towards the school system and their background problems. The film Dangerous Minds is all about communication and in this paper I will discuss three elements of communication in the movie. The first will be communication: what and why. The second will be conflict resolution in communication and the third will be persuasive speaking.

The Need for Communication in Dangerous Minds-communication in Schools

According to the book ‘Understanding Human Communication’, Human communication is defined as ‘the process of creating meaning through symbolic interaction.’ In the book, communication characteristics are given. It states that communication is a process which means that it builds up along the way and it is not isolated. In the book, communication is relational meaning it is something two or more people participate in and one person cannot be a lone participant in communication. Communication is also symbolic and one needs to understand another person’s actions in order to understand the communication. The book also explains the various types of communication relationships and the various needs communication serves.(Adler, Rodman & Pre, 2017)

In the film Dangerous Minds, communication defines itself in various instances. The fact that communication is a process is indicated in the interaction between the new teacher and her students from day one. Earlier in the film, the teacher is making little progress at communication. The first scene that shows this is where she asks the class what happened to their previous teacher. The students are not interested in answering her questions at first and when they do, everybody seems to be talking at once and is talking about irrelevant things. However, as the film a progress, the teacher makes progress and the students learn to communicate with her in various processes and communication is greatly improved. In the film, there are two major types of communication. In interpersonal communication, the teacher has that with her best friend and various bright students in the class. The whole class itself is a small group communication group. Communication in the school serves various functions, it serves the physical needs as students and the teacher as well as one of the parents express their troubles and avoid depression. It serves the social needs in student interaction with others. It serves the practical needs because learning in the classroom has to take place and the teacher needs answers to her questions. It also serves the identity needs as the teenage learners struggle with their identities and who they want to become.

According to a peer review on communication in the classroom, teaching and learning do not occur without communication. It goes on to state that teachers with good communication skills influence learning in the classroom.(Duta, Panisoaraa & Panisoaraa, 2014)

Conflict Resolution in Communication-communication in Schools

Conflict arises when two or more parties disagree on something and communication becomes a hindered process. Conflict arises from expressed struggle, interdependence, perceived incompatible goals and perceived scarce resources. Communication climate and confirmation messages are important in conflict resolution. Conflict resolution is impossible when one party shows stonewalling or are defensive. Conflict is expressed in various ways. Culture can influence conflict methods of resolving conflict can be win-win or win-lose or compromise. (Adler, Rodman & Pre, 2017)

In Dangerous minds, conflict exists in a variety of ways. There is a conflict between the new teacher and the school administration on how to run her classroom. There is at the beginning of the class a conflict between the students and the teacher as the students don’t care for education. There is also conflict among some students such as Emilio, Gusmaro and Raul who get into a fight. There is also conflict between Emilio and students that has just been released from jail. There is a conflict between students and the education board because students believe the board does nothing for them. There is also conflict between Louanne the teacher, and a parent who does not want her kids attending school anymore because according to her they are not learning anything. The conflict in all these scenarios arise because of expressed struggle especially between the students and school board, the students and the teacher have conflict because they are interdepended on each other as they need each other to survive school. The teacher student conflict also arises due to incompatible goals because while the teacher wants her students to learn something while in school, the students just want to graduate and not necessarily learn.

Conflict resolution is impossible in some instances as the parent to the two boys is determined not to let them back in school by expressing stonewalling and not listening to the teacher. It is also impossible in the first fight scenario because the boys are defensive and none wants to be seen as week. Culture has an influence on a lot of these conflicts as the students use a lot of curse words because of where they live unlike the teacher who is not used to that kind of language. Some unresolved conflicts are lose-lose because Emilio dies because of one. Some however are win-win as the teacher resolves conflict with her students and regains their love for education.

A peer review on conflict resolution in schools showed that many US schools are dealing with conflict by curricula and other methods. The paper reveals that some processes actually work but others fail. Implementation is the biggest challenge in projects for resolving conflict resolution and reducing violence among the youth. The paper recommends that disciplinary actions can be used as evaluations to conflict resolution. In the movie however, disciplinary action is applied wrong as some students are suspended as others stay in school. As a result of poor disciplinary action by the principal, Emilio dies because of a conflict that would have been resolved by proper discipline.(Powell, Muir‐McClain & Halasyamani, 1995)

Persuasive Speaking-communication in Schools

According to ‘Understanding Human Communication,’ Persuasive speaking is ‘is the process of motivating someone, through communication, to change a particular belief, attitude, or behaviour.’

Characteristics of persuasion show that it is not a must do item, it is a process, occurs between people and is ethical. It characterised by propositions of fact, value and policy. It desires to convince audience. The speaker has to have character or charisma and other special qualities. (Adler, Rodman & Pre, 2017)

In the movie Dangerous minds, the new teacher, tries persuasive speaking to help her students learn something. When Callie, the brightest girl in the classroom, is determined to change schools because she is pregnant, the teacher tries persuasive speaking. When Emilio runs into trouble the same teacher tries to persuade him to get help. When the teacher learns about Emilio’s death and resolves to quit, it is the turn of one of her bright students to persuade her not to. Persuasion in the movie works in some scenario and fails in some. The teacher convinces the students using propositions of fact to get them to learn something, she says that it is a fact that they are already in a classroom so why not learn anyway, in another instant were a student is convinced that she does not have a choice because of where she comes from, the teacher again uses fact to persuade all of the that they have a choice but they make the right ones by getting on the bus every day. When Callie wants to change schools, the teacher uses proposition of policy to convince her that no policy says that she cannot stay in the same school.

Persuasion has a variety of outcomes as seen in a peer reviewed article about persuasion. It influences attitude and behaviour change. According to the source, persuasion does not always work to resolve in the positive as sometimes it fails because of the state of mind. (Petty & Brinol, 2008) A good example is in Callie’s case where her mind was resolved to change schools. It however worked with the discouraged teacher because she went back to class for her students.Communication in Schools







Adler, R., Rodman, G., & Pre, A. (2017). Understanding Human Communication (13th ed., pp. 5,10,18,215,373). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Duta, N., Panisoaraa, G., & Panisoaraa, ,. (2014). Effective Communication in Teaching. Diagnostic study regarding the academic learning motivation to students. Retrieved from

Petty, R., & Brinol, P. (2008). Persustion [Ebook] (1st ed.). Ohio: PERSPECTIVES ON PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE.
Powell, K., Muir‐McClain, L., & Halasyamani, L. (1995). A Review of Selected School‐Based Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation Projects. Retrieved from