Healthy Relationships
Curriculum Reviews
  Healthy Relationships: A Violence-Prevention Curriculum
Review by May Thiessen,
Coordinator of the District Resource Centre for Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; Education District No. 1
Green Teacher, Issue 44, October-November 1995.
Reprinted with the author's permission.

In operating a speciality library for teachers, I have noticed that the most commonly requested materials are those that relate to students' behavior rather than to a specific subject area. Resources on student relationships, violence and cooperation are always out and on the waiting lists. While there is a wealth of such materials for primary grades, there are not nearly as many for the upper grades. I will now be able to recommend Healthy Relationships: A violence-prevention curriculum for junior high teachers, and would even suggest it as a starting point for senior high teachers.

The Healthy Relationships series is written for the grade seven to nine level, and would fit well into an integrated Health/Family Life/Social Studies curriculum. Parts of it could also be used in a Language Arts class. It consists of three spiral-bound books, one for each grade: Dealing with Aggression (grade 7), Gender Equality and Media Awareness (grade 8), and Forming Healthy Relationships (grade 9).

Each book has the same basic layout, with a forward and extensive introduction, followed by four sessions, or subtopics. Several of the activities in each session are written as lesson plans, with objectives, background, activities and closure. There are approximately 16 activities per grade, most designed to take up an average 40-minute class period.

The curriculum is very well-written and provides a wide variety of activities, including role-playing, viewing, reading and listening activities. For example, in the grade seven curriculum, small groups role play scenarios to demonstrate passive, aggressive and assertive attitudes and behaviors. A follow-up worksheet gives new situations and has the students write out a passive, aggressive and assertive response for three scenarios. Many of the lessons also include extension activities which may be given for homework or for further discussion. Complete information is provided for each lesson, including suggested questions, activity sheets, when to ask for reports from small groups and recommended resources. The only thing which is not always clear is which pages may be reproduced for classroom use. While the activity sheets are always so labeled, other pages, such as copies of newspaper articles or advertisements, are not labeled, yet it seems from the instructions that they should be handed out to the class.

This curriculum has several features that I especially appreciated. At the end of each book, the authors have included the tables of contents of the books for the other grade levels, which enables teachers to ensure that any related lessons that they develop will not overlap what will be taught in a later year. As well as this, there is an extensive list of print and video resources, including an annotated bibliography of many resources that directly relate to the topics taught in the curriculum.

Using the materials presented in these books, it would be possible either to do an extensive unit (six weeks or longer) on violence-prevention, or to have regular lessons throughout the year. It is written to represent current attitudes across North America and uses both Canadian and American statistics.

I found the grade seven and nine materials to be of particular value. They present in a usable form concepts that need to be taught, such as expressing emotions, dealing with disappointment, being responsible, resolving conflicts (grade 7); and exploring gender stereotypes, the link between sexism and violence, understanding anger and resisting peer pressure (grade 9). The grade eight book on gender and media awareness may be of less value, as this is one topic that has been addressed well in video format. For example, the National Film Board has produced several series on media awareness that also come with complete teaching guides. In addition, some of the advertisements reproduced in the grade eight curriculum may not photocopy well, as they are black and white reproductions of colour ads. In general, however, all three curriculum guides are well-written and the series is well coordinated to provide a smooth sequence of concepts taught. I would definitely recommend this curriculum.

Next: Ending Men's Violence

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