This paper is based on a morning session at a pedagogical training course for a group of teachers at a small Danish public school. Using role-play, these teachers, under the guidance of a consultant and an actor, were practicing ‘the difficult conversation' with parents. I had been given permission to be present and to videotape the morning's role-play.1 In this paper I inquire into the underlying assumptions behind such training in conversational skills. What is the purpose of this ‘difficult conversation'? Who possesses relevant knowledge that can be used as input in the conversation? What can teachers and parents say given these assumptions? Which management responsibility is addressed through such training of the difficult conversation? My conclusions are, briefly, that the difficult conversation is more correctly to be called an impossible conversation. It is an asking for the parent's consent to the teachers' description, and the teachers' authority is very easily threatened by parents who suppose that their experiences are relevant. The training situation in itself confirms that the parents are the opponents, and that the teachers should take care.The training course had been developed by the school's Coordination and Development group, which consists of the headmaster, coordinators and union representative. As a basis for the discussion, the Coordination and Development Group had defined five types of difficult parents and had written them on a flip chart. The headmaster referred to them as "types that we all know":- The extremely well prepared mother2- The egotistical mother- The mother who says yes but does not follow it up, is evasive- The angry/aggressive mother who seeks to place blame- The disagreeing parentsOne of the first things I asked myself - and a few of the teachers present - was how an extremely well prepared mother can be ‘difficult'?
International Journal About Parents in Education, 2007, Vol 1, Issue 0, p. 210-217