In teaching and in life, people sometimes face difficult situations about whether to intervene in a conflict between people, such as students or other teachers.  Concerns about how one will be...

In teaching and in life, people sometimes face difficult situations about whether to intervene in a conflict between people, such as students or other teachers.  Concerns about how one will be perceived, fear of personal danger, or sometimes even ambiguity about whether it is better to let the parties resolve the conflict themselves all can make the decision about whether to intervene a challenging one.  In an essay to be read by an audience of educated adults, describe a situation in which you faced such a decision about whether to intervene, and explain how you handled the situation.

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literaturenerd's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

In constructing an essay which narrates an event in your life regarding a scenario where you had to intervene in a conflict, you must be sure to define the issues one may have with an intervention. As stated, one may choose not to intervene based upon how others will see him or her, fear of a physical attack or retaliation, or if it would even be right.

Given that the essay is to be read by "educated adults," it needs to be academic in nature. The language of the essay needs to be elevated and free of slang, contractions, or grammatical errors. Since a typical narrative essay illustrates an actual event in the life of the writer, a first person point of view is appropriate.

As with any essay, one must be careful to show the importance behind the subject matter. A writer does not need to simply tell what happened. A good rule of thumb is to ask the following question: What is the point? Show. Don't tell.

You could break the essay down into three different sections defining three different situations where you address each of the situations above (one where you were worried about how others would see you; one where you were worried about your safety; one where you were not quite sure if you should intervene or not). Within each body paragraph explaining each situation, you would include what your decision was and the thought process behind it.

Another way to look at the essay could be defining one specific situation. The body paragraphs would be broken down into different "phases" of the situation: the conflict, your thoughts on the conflict, your actions regarding the conflict, and what happened based upon your decision to act or not.

mizzwillie's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

This is long after you asked your question, but I feel that this is important.  I was teaching middle school where racial problems began between groups of students.  As I was doing hall duty before school in the upstairs hallway, I came upon one of my 8th grade white students and a 7th grade black student circling each other getting ready to fight. Since I had worked with the issue before in several different schools including a facility for juvenile delinquents, I saw no reason to not get involved to prevent escalation.  I ordered my 8th grade student to go to the office which he did, and walked the black student to the office as I had no idea who he was.  The principal at the time asked to see the three of us in her office, I  explained the situation, told her that both boys were cooperative with me, and she allowed them to leave the office for the waiting room.  In our discussion, I offered to run a white/black student group with her permission.  She said yes, I talked to the two boys waiting in the office, and proposed the idea to them.  They agreed, walked back with me to my classroom, and we discussed the morning incident.  I agreed to dismiss it if they would participate honestly in this group.  They agreed, and my room became the place they worked out the issues.  I seated them in a circle, placed them white, black next to each other, and listened.  More students asked to join which was a good thing, and they solved many problems together. The original two were fantastic, honest and facing the issues.  Students came to  me with issues about rumors, bullying on the bus, words students used against each other, what other teachers thought were gang symbols, etc.  Investigating and with kids backing me up, my principal also backed me up.  In problems with parents or staff, she used the group as an illustration of trying to work with students.  Several white students who would not get the message were expelled which said the office was serious. The halls grew calmer without the rumor mill churning, and the lunch room much easier to handle.  Students understood that they didn't always get their way, but that there was a place to work it out someway with both sides expressing their views.  

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