A SELF-AWARENESS WORKBOOK
Brian C. Harris.
Volume 11 Number 6.
This workbook is presumably meant for junior high or high school students, although this is not specified. The objective is for young people to get to know themselves better and to examine their feelings about themselves and their environment. The exercises involve both closed and open-ended questions, ranking traits as more or less "like me," sentence completion, story completion, drawing, and others. The entire workbook is designed for completion over a time period of at least one month.
There are five chapters in this book, the first of which is an introduction involving factual information (e.g., "Where were you born?") and self-image information (e.g., "What do you like best about yourself?"; 'To what extent (on a five point scale) are you: intelligent, conformist, mature, honest, lonely," etc.).
The second chapter includes a two-week diary in which students are to record events that made them aware of their feelings. Several other exercises, such as completing a story and drawing pictures, are used to make young people think about and even analyze how they feel about themselves and their world.
Chapter three attempts to make students aware of their perceptions of how others feel about them and includes an interesting section on controlling anger. Communication is the focus of the fourth chapter, with most of the emphasis on body language and active listening. The fifth and final chapter deals with the future and asks students to list short- and long-term goals.
Students are encouraged to have a teacher or counsellor read their books after each chapter is completed, since "he or she may have some worthwhile feedback on your work." On the other hand, students are told to keep the books to themselves if they are more comfortable that way.
Overall, this workbook is well produced and well organized. Older high school students might find it somewhat simplistic, however, and the author seems unaware of the adolescent's notorious reluctance to draw. My most grave reservation about this book, however, concerns the spectre of a depressed or emotionally unstable adolescent working through these exercises alone or with only occasional feedback from a teacher who may not have the training to recognize the problem. This could involve a significant number of young people if recent research on depression in particular is to be believed. I can only recommend this book, therefore, for those courses where a properly trained adult monitors students' work closely and does not allow them to keep it to themselves. Without this scrutiny some of the exercises could prove quite painful and exacerbate an existing problem. The author, whose own training is left a mystery, would do well to provide an instructor's manual that discusses interpretation of some typical student responses. As well, he should point out the dangers inherent in making depressed or emotionally unstable adolescents, working in complete isolation, examine often painful feelings and perceptions too closely.
Glenn DiPasquale, York County Board of Education, Newmarket, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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