Coping with Junior High Guidance: A Resource Book for Teachers and Counsellors
Ashley Thomson is a full librarian at Laurentian University and co-editor or co-author of nine books, most recently Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, 1988-2005.
Developed by an innovative New Brunswick guidance counsellor in cooperation with her peers in that province, this book attempts to provide those who are involved in group guidance experiences at the junior high school level with a base from which to start (p.2).
The book is divided into three main parts to reflect the areas that most commonly need attention: school survival skills, self-awareness, and interpersonal relationships. Each part is then broken down into more specific sections. For example, the part on interpersonal relationships is subdivided into sections on individual differences, forming relationships, communication, and relating to others. Each section is then divided into individual lesson plans.
Of the 58 lesson plans in the book, each begins with a goal statement, followed by an indication of the materials and preparation needed and step-by-step procedures for conducting the lesson. Background information and additional activities are provided, where appropriate. Interestingly, the author has explicitly avoided including evaluating mechanisms, feeling that personal growth is difficult to measure through words written on a page.
In this reviewer’s judgement, the book is a gold-mine of good ideas. To help teach about individuality, for example, Urquhart suggests that each student be required to bring an apple to class, and then to examine it for bumps, blemishes, color, etc. After five or so minutes, all apples will be piled together and students will be expected to retrieve their apple (p.78).
To be sure, one can criticize the internal organization of many lesson plans, where Urquhart’s section on materials and preparation would have been more understandable if it had followed, instead of preceded, the procedures she recommends. Moreover, as she no doubt has discovered by now, page 123 is supposed to include sketches that do not exist, and on pages 156 and 157, references are incorrectly made to page 00, which in reality is supposed to be page 158.
Nonetheless, one must acknowledge that this book will meet a felt need, not only in New Brunswick but across the country, where, despite individual variations, the aims of junior high guidance are more or less similar.