Directions: A Community Guidance Resource Book
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.
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach go into guidance.”
Well, things have come a long way since the worst teacher in the school, who had no training for the job, administered an American test she didn’t understand to a kid, and then told him he should either be a plumber or an actor.
Modern guidance personnel are professionals who know that career advice to school-children is only a small part of their job. Instead, they believe that there is a need for their services throughout a person’s life on such other topics as “developing new leisure interests, or coping with the responsibilities of being a consumer, spouse, or parent.”
This modern view of the guidance specialist was reflected in “A Position Paper on Guidance and Counselling Services in Canada,” first published in 1982 and largely the work of Wallace and Studd, two of the authors of this book. It is reprinted in the book as Appendix A.
The book itself, a natural outgrowth of this position paper, attempts to “flesh out” some of the issues raised by the paper. The authors begin by trying to define some of the terminology of the new discipline, and then move on to propose a “program model flexible enough to be adopted not only by the schools but also by all groups offering guidance services.”
When programs are offered, they must then be staffed by qualified personnel — be they teachers or other professionals. So the authors then attempt to establish “expected counsellor competencies as they relate to the program model” and outline the type of professional “in-service training programs to ensure the development of such competencies.”
Since they believe that, in addition to qualified staff, effective programs need good resources, they devote a chapter to the kinds of resources a program could organize and use. Then they conclude by arguing that political action will be needed to advance the cause.
Unfortunately, this book fails to do the subject justice. For one thing, it is badly copy-edited. Not only did the reviewer note several typos (e.g., prople for people on page 130), but more typically, the introduction promised that chapter 6 would be devoted to resources needed, and chapter 7 would suggest staffing ratios. In fact, Chapter 6 is entitled “Implementing the Life Career Model” whereas Chapter 7 is entitled “Resources”.
One could live with these problems if the text were coherent. It is, however, largely a pastiche of lists and quotes, most with little interpretation or analysis. More’s the pity. This book is on to an important topic and proves that guidance people have come a long way. They just have farther to go.