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Raising Cain
The All About Series

Resolving Conflict Creatively
Canada’s Maple Leaf

100 Paintings
Management Fads in Higher Education
Animated Arithmetic!
Celebrating the Fourth

Learning in Safe Schools
Settle It!

 

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys

By Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson
Reviewed by Rick Chambers

revcain.gif (15201 bytes)Books about boys are in vogue this year. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by two American child psychologists, Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson, weighs in on the issue from the perspective of boys’ emotional "miseducation."

The authors contend that boys, from their earliest years, are taught by parents, teachers, and popular culture to contain their feelings. Boys do not receive the same encouragement that girls do to be emotionally literate and reflective about their own feelings and their responses to others. A young boy learns quickly to "hide his feelings and silence his fears. A boy is left to manage conflict, adversity and change in his life with a limited emotional repertoire."

The "differentness" of boys presents a challenge to teachers, to school culture and to boys themselves. Kindlon and Thompson suggest that a single-sex environment in elementary school would help boys cope with their developmental disparity with girls – both physically and intellectually.

The authors assume a knowledge of psychology that probably exceeds what most teachers learn in professional education programs. For example, in the chapter on depression and suicide, the authors criticize a secondary school teachers’ meeting concerning a student experiencing difficulty. The teachers try to come up with reasons for the student’s behaviour – laziness, learning disability, drugs, chronic fatigue syndrome – but the authors are amazed no one suggests depression.

Raising Cain addresses many of the behaviours of boys – from the Tom Sawyer brave and reckless choices to the Lord of the Flies cruelty. Kindlon and Thompson urge teachers to take a stand against schoolyard violence and the subtler, predatory psychological violence that more physically attractive boys often inflict on smaller, less-outgoing boys. Teachers need to create safe emotional environments for boys to express feelings without fear of being labeled sissies.

Parents of boys should read Raising Cain. Its insight and common sense are consciousness-raising and affirming. Teachers might also want to read it to put their experiences with boys into a psychological context.

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, Ballantine Publishing Group, New York, 2000; ISBN 0-345-43485-4; $22 paper (320 pages); Random House Canada 416-364-4449

Rick Chambers is a program officer in the College’s Professional Affairs Department.


The All About Series

By Barb McDermott and Gail McKeowan
Reviewed by Maria Nebesny-Kollias

revallab.gif (24701 bytes)Looking for reference material in a library can be intimidating for primary students, especially those who have difficulty reading. Now there is a series of colourful, easy-to-read books designed to spark students' interest and provide information in a non-threatening way.

The All About Series is an innovative, non-fiction reference series that brings Canada alive and meets curriculum needs in social studies, science, mathematics, citizenship and literacy. There are from six to 14 books on each topic and each book is 30 pages. Topics include Canadian provinces and territories, capital cities, geographic regions, animals, attractions, sports and famous people.

Large, colourful, current photographs with simple captions adorn each page. Clear maps as well as historic pictures are included. All visuals are presented in a picture postcard setup on the right side of the book. Facts are arranged as the back of the postcard and include a related postage stamp and postmark symbol. Students will find this appealing as these are real places to visit, animals to spot, diverse activities and ethnicity to experience, famous peoples’ contributions to discover, all in their own country.

The All About Series, Edmonton, 1999; ISBN 1-896132-09-X; $59.95 the series, soft-cover (30 pages per book); Reidmore Books Inc., 18228 – 102 Avenue, Edmonton AB T5S 1S7; 780-444-0912; fax: 780-444-0933

Maria Nebesny-Kollias teaches Junior Kindergarten and elementary-level French for the York Region District School Board.


Resolving Conflict Creatively in the School Community: Mediation and Negotiation

By Triune Arts
Reviewed by Audrey Cartile

revconfl.gif (9136 bytes)This package includes two videos made at Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute in Toronto and two print resources: a teacher guide and a booklet of student handouts. Each video, Negotiation and Mediation, is about 20 minutes long. They feature teachers and students as actors in a "class" learning about conflict resolution. The "actors" are dressed in the current styles, which will date the content as time passes. The acting is obviously by amateurs, but this adds to the perception that anyone can learn these skills. The situations used cover interactions with parents, peers and teachers, for example, curfews, group work, marks. The supporting print materials provide additional examples and the opportunity for students to add their own scenarios.

This resource provides enough materials to support a school or class initiative addressing conflict resolution. But leaders should have additional training and background before using the package with students and teachers.

Negotiation and mediation are important skills. This material provides an inexpensive resource to assist students, staff and parents to develop conflict resolution skills.

Resolving Conflict Creatively in the School Community – Negotiation and Mediation, Toronto, 1999; $250; Triune Arts, 579 Kingston Rd., Suite 107, Toronto ON M4E 1R3; fax 416-686-0468; e-mail triune@triune.ca; www.triune.ca

Audrey Cartile is a program officer with the College’s Accreditation Unit.


Canada’s Maple Leaf – the Story of Our Flag

By Ann-Maureen Owens and Jane Yealland
Reviewed by Dianne Dowling

Looking for worthwhile Canadian social studies or history resources? Canada’s Maple Leaf – the Story of Our Flag is an interesting, informative and affordable addition to your personal, classroom or school library.

Written by the same team that authored the award-winning Forts of Canada, this book tells how the Maple Leaf flag developed in 1964 from thousands of designs submitted by Canadians. Sidebars are used effectively to add interesting background details, and illustrations by Bill Slavin and Esperanca Melo bring humour and drama to the story.

As well, the book covers a brief history of flags, historical and present day flags of Canada, and the etiquette of flags. It also gives directions for two hands-on projects: making your own Canadian flag and creating secret messages using international code flags.

Canada’s Maple Leaf applies particularly well to the Grades 4 and 5 social studies curriculum, but it is a book that people of all ages will enjoy reading.

Canada’s Maple Leaf: the Story of Our Flag, Kids Can Press Ltd., Toronto, 1999; ISBN 1-55074-516-6 (paper); $6.95 (32 pages); University of Toronto Press, fax: 1-800-221-9985

Dianne Dowling teaches elementary school with the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board.


One Hundred Paintings

Edited by Frederico Zeri
Reviewed by Sarah Raymond

revrenoi.gif (21699 bytes)Your school’s art books may look dog-eared by now, with their choice paintings gone to young artistic vandals. A new series can help you restore and restock.

Frederico Zeri, an Italian art historian, has edited volumes on Botticelli, CÚzanne, Renoir, Klimt, Matisse, Munch, Pontormo, Titian, Toulouse-Lautrec, Vermeer and Watteau, with more to follow.

Each slim volume features one artist, with 100 glossy colour reproductions. In each title, Zeri provides many enlarged details and rich description for one landmark painting. Artwork and photographic references that inspired the featured work are also included. Zeri relates paintings to their social and political times and links them to relevant artistic movements. Photographs of the artist or his surroundings are sprinkled through the text.

The final pages summarize each artist’s production through chronologies of postage-stamp-sized reproductions and milestones in the artist’s life. Finally, Zeri includes testimonies and documents on the featured artist, such as critical comments or journal passages – useful starting points for class discussion.

Although Zeri assumes some prior knowledge of art history and occasionally launches into heavy, academic prose, most senior high school students would find the text accessible. And while he limits the scope of art and artists to Western male artists of the past, the text is informative, well-organized and thorough.

The series offers a welcome update to older volumes – as long as you can keep the scissors away.

One Hundred Paintings, Richmond Hill, 1999/2000; ISBN 1-55321-008-5; $23.95 each volume; NDE Publishing, 15-30 Wertheim Court, Richmond Hill ON L4B 1B9; www.NDEpublishing.com or Canbook Distribution Services 1-800-399-6858

Sarah Raymond is on maternity leave from her position as head of art at Eastdale Collegiate in Oshawa.


Management Fads in Higher Education:Where They Come From. What They Do. Why They Fail.

By Robert Birnbaum
Reviewed by Rick Chambers

revmanag.gif (16194 bytes)Academic Robert Birnbaum chronicles the rise and fall of management strategies over 35 years and their impact on public education. In the first half of the book, his retrospective of fads from the sixties to the present includes their origins, reasons for their popularity, their basic premises and why they faded. In the second half, he talks about the life cycles of management fads, their legacies and the challenge in managing them.

Clearly, Birnbaum supports the autonomy of universities, and argues convincingly that universities and businesses should not be compared. Applying the same management rules inevitably leads to disappointment, frustration and a change in managers. Repeatedly, he points to the lack of empirical evidence to support many management fads. More often than not, "The more reasonable something sounds, the less the need to subject it to critical analysis and think through its implications." A reason for the failure of a fad-induced innovation "is that perhaps it was not such a good idea in the first place."

When considering the adoption of new management fads, Birnbaum recommends skepticism, investigation, avoidance of bandwagons, anticipation of resistance, and starting small.

Interestingly, all his recommendations require time, and time is often one of the crucial factors missing in the adoption of new ideas.

Management Fads in Higher Education: Where They Come From. What They Do. Why They Fail, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., 2000; ISBN 0-7879-4456-4, $49.50 (241 pages); John Wiley Publishers, 416-236-4433 or 1-800-567-4797; fax: 416-236-8743 or 1-800-565-6802

Reviewed by Rick Chambers.


Animated Arithmetic!

By Flix Productions
Reviewed by David Hare

The CD, Animated Arithmetic! is a comparatively simple program that assists primary and junior students in reinforcing basic computer skills. The user chooses between addition and subtraction or multiplication and division practice sessions. Addition and subtraction options include grouping or no grouping. Multiplication and division gives the user six variations of questions. Students may focus on the number they would like to use or select "mixed" where the program randomly selects questions.

The reward? Students choose between traversing a maze (or designing their own) or solving a virtual jigsaw puzzle. Then it is on to the next 10 questions or increasing the level of difficulty or ending the session. At the end of the successful completion of a maze or puzzle, the static images come alive and move, dance and fly across the screen with surprising outcomes. After you set your students up and they go through the first practise runs, most will be back for more.

Animated Arithmetic! DelValle, Texas, 1999; CD $19 US; Flix Productions, 601 Ranch Road, DelValle, TX 78616. Free trial copies available at www.flixprod.com; e-mail info@flixprod.com

Reviewed by David Hare, a College member currently working for TD Canada in London.


Celebrating the Fourth - Ideas and Inspiration for Teachers of Grade Four

By Joan Servis
Reviewed by Mary Martin

revceleb.gif (19601 bytes)Celebrating the Fourth, a passionate reflection on teaching, serves as an inspiration for junior-level teachers interested in creating an invigorating classroom environment. Veteran teacher Joan Servis guides the reader along a journey of change spanning a 25-year career as a fourth grade teacher.

Through a continuous process of observing, reading and reflecting, Servis redefined her teaching philosophy. Eventually, a boring classroom based on skill and drill was transformed into an engaging, literacy-rich environment promoting risk-taking and celebrating the pleasures of lifelong learning. Servis challenges and motivates by example, sharing a wealth of ideas practical for all teachers striving to create a community of learners.

New teachers will welcome the gentle reassurance and essential practical guidance while experienced teachers will find themselves stimulated and re-energized.

Celebrating the Fourth, Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH, 1999; ISBN 0-325-00145-6; $27.20 paper (154 pages); Irwin Publishing, 325 Humber College Blvd., Toronto ON M9W 7C3; 1-800-263-7824; fax 416-798-1384

Reviewed by Mary Martin, a Grade 4/5 teacher at Tall Pines School in Brampton.


Learning in Safe Schools Creating Classrooms Where All Students Belong

By Faye Brownlie and Judith King
Reviewed by Andrea Murray

revlearn.gif (18616 bytes)To make students feel safe, the authors of Learning in Safe Schools believe they need to feel a sense of belonging and that educators must take ownership of all students. If a teacher can create a classroom where all children feel they belong, students will become eager to learn for the sake of learning. According to this book, the goal is easily attainable.

Blank masters, samples of student work and teacher-friendly checklists and real-life scenarios make this book a practical reference. It’s good to see inclusion being discussed in terms of practice as well as theory. By incorporating this framework of inclusion and ownership, every teacher and administrator can give each child a sense of belonging in our schools.

Learning in Safe Schools: Creating Classrooms Where All Students Belong, 2000; ISBN 1-55138-120-6; $18.95 soft cover (160 pages); Pembroke Publishers Limited, 905-477-0650; fax: 905-477-3691; e-mail: Deborah@pembrokepublishers.com

Reviewed by Andrea Murray, a Grade 5 teacher at James Bolton Public School, Peel District School Board.


Settle It!

By Karin Vagiste
Reviewed by Toba Offman

Teacher and mediator Karin Vagiste has written Settle It! to guide students in building healthy relationships. The heart of her book is the Action Plan, which is designed to allow for a constructive expression of anger, so that students can move beyond it and resolve conflicts in a civilized manner. The book is easy reading for the average Grade 9 student.

The section on the science of anger is outstanding. Vagiste says there are at least two or three levels to every conflict and gives 10 practical cool-down exercises to diffuse mounting tensions. Peer mediators can rely on the Action Plan to help uncover the root of a conflict. Co-op students can benefit from learning how to resolve workplace conflict. In short, the Action Plan can be applied to a wide range of conflicts.

Settle It! 2000; ISBN 0-9682157-1-8; $14.95 (soft cover 144 pages); Stirling House; 416-667-7791, toll-free in Canada and the U.S.: 1-800-565-9523

Reviewed by Toba Offman, a Family Studies teacher with the Toronto District School Board.

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