How encouraging it is to find a concrete and practical book dealing with guidance and the development that comes with the passing away of a learner. This book narrates toward a trend of loss and bereavement. It primarily focuses on how K-12 systems and individuals respond to the death of students, in particular students whose death is due to suicide or homicide .Death is an area we don’t speak much of in these settings, yet we need measures to be in place that will help us move on from such an ordeal.
The book is intended to serve as an invaluable guide, providing research and practical tools on how to respond to the demise of a student and simplify the learning environment whilst at it. In addition to this, the book aims at assisting other educationalists and institutions understand that they are not alone in their troubles. The ultimate intention being to serve as a meditation for the authors own grieving process and for other educators.
The publication interlinks the writer’s personal encounter of a student’s deadly shoot down with additional literature from other teachers who have experienced and overcome similar occurrences as well as input from therapists, principles and counsellors.
The book is arranged into 10 sections each going through different ideologies in relation to managing and surviving the loss of a student. The introduction clearly sets the tone. It is a book for fellow grievers, those seeking solace within a community and those that can identify with the struggle to lead students through the grieving process while simultaneously acknowledging their personal process of grieving.
The first half of the book outlines the complications that come with dealing with urban violence and recognizes the multiple issues faced by teachers, specifically those from vastly different socio-economic and political contexts compared to their students. The second half of the book deals with what needs to be done, steps that need to be taken, educator schooling and recommendations. An idea that the author revisits time and again in the book is the need to establish a sense of community within the school. The author believes this is the most vital tool in dealing with the death of a student. The book is written in a way that it collates various conclusions in each chapter with an afterword written from the counsellor and therapist point of view.
Having picked this book I expected to draw a lot of audacity from the author on how to deal with this crisis, I expected to be in a position to train counsellors or teachers using the resources shared from the book. Although there is some evidence based responses to handling crisis and death of a student, there is no clear step by step process or pre-determined deliverables that is appropriate for each and every death that might occur in schools. Most importantly I expected to gain profound insight on how teachers can heal whilst being supportive to their pupils. Although the author mentions that the book was not a prescribed how-to guide nor was it a theoretical analysis of the causes of youth death, my hopes were slightly diminished. I envisioned finding theories that drive the cause, I hoped to find some psychological mechanism explained and the writers own personal experiences rather than a collection of individual stories. I however am pleased that professionals gave insight to the subject matter and concluded the book, by saying that there is no right way to grieve as everyone grieves differently. Recommendations on dealing and healing were reached by combining short pieces from other educators who had gone through the same ordeal. The number one take home being that you have to build community now to survive the crisis later. You cannot start building community when crisis strikes. I also wish some illustrations of activities carried out by the different educators would be incorporated as this would be helpful as to appreciate the context, materials or equipment’s used. The author struggled with identifying where the research of such a book would fall before he started writing it. He was faced with challenges of which category it would fall be it psychological study, anthropological or sociological. What I picked from this book was that there are various philosophies mentioned but are not categorised, one would have to understand the different philosophies in order to be able to determine which philosophy the author was talking about. I however recognized that the book had sociological and psychological perspectives to it.
Generally the author conversely has provided a succinct rationale for the use of books as a therapeutic intervention, which will help teachers realize they are not alone as it facilitates the sharing of problems. The important takeaway being that our society needs to address the issue of how a student’s death impacts both teachers and the overall school community. The book is written in an easy to read, easy to understand style and is comprehensive, interesting and informative .It is a book for Counsellors, therapists, educators, school principals, supervisors or any other person who has lost a loved one. This book is arranged in a manner of interconnectedness and great transitions of chapters which lead to recommendations and afterword. The moving and poignant book illuminates as much as it inspires, it is indeed a book for all.