Class Discussions for Teachers and Counsellors in Elementary Schools
P.J. Hammel is a professor of Education at the University of
“This manual is our attempt to provide educators with an empirically sound, field-tested method of conducting class discussions with elementary school children” who are not learning effectively because of social or emotional stress. This group counselling method should “help students express their thoughts and feelings, develop a deeper understanding of the situation, and learn new and more effective coping and decision making behaviours.” The model described is an integration of three counselling areas: developmental counselling, group counselling, and the Egan method of counselling. After very brief theoretical descriptions of the essential elements of each of the three methods, the manual provides directions for planning and executing the group discussions. Some 67 topic plans are included, such as, Approaching adolescence, Fighting, Put downs, Fear, Anger, Being new, Bullying, Tattling, Death, Dreams, Hobbies, and a final three-session section on problem solving. Each topic plan consists of a five- or six-step structure with suggested stimulus questions to be selected from or modified to suit the age group or situation.
Although the authors indicate repeatedly that this manual is addressed to the general, elementary classroom teacher, I would suggest some caution. A rather pointed reference to Egan’s book, The Skilled Helper (1981), seems to suggest that a thorough reading of that book is prerequisite. A second statement recommending attendance at in-service workshops before attempting to conduct these sessions would also seem to indicate the need for special training. Although this book is obviously a useful manual for those who already possess counselling skills, I would not recommend it to those teachers who do not have at least minimal training in counselling.