Márianna Csóti

Parents Teachers/SENCOs Therapists Magyar Self-help

Contentious Issues:

Discussion Stories for Young People

ISBN 1843100339

 

Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 365 pages, £18.95

Reviews

Challenging prejudice, stereotyping and judgemental behaviour, this volume consists of 40 discussion stories, which reflect society and the problems young people face today. Aimed at promoting discussion and awareness, young people are challenged to consider events and the part they themselves play in life, thus producing more responsible and independently thinking young adults. In particular, children with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism often have difficulty in coming to grips with social situations, so that the stories in this volume should be especially useful for those working with such children.

 

The stories are primarily intended for group work (although can be used on a one-to-one basis) and, since young people take more notice of what their peers have to say than adults, it provides an excellent forum for a multitude of opinions to be aired. No previous experience or knowledge of the topics is necessary and the book contains comprehensive guidance for professionals and parents. It is ideal for use in therapy sessions, schools, youth groups, and by parents and carers.

 

 

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Book review found at Metapsychology Mental Help Net's Bookstore.

Metapsychology Mental Help Net's Bookstore

 

'One of the greatest problems parents or those that work with youngsters face is the ability to contend with societal and moral issues without appearing to lecture. Marianna Csoti's, 'Contentious Issues – Discussion Stories for Young People,' offers a sturdy platform from which to begin. The book cleverly introduces fictional but true-to-life events that deal with topics such as ethnicity, racism, sexism and stereotypes.

 

'Aimed at 11-18 year olds, Csoti's book challenges young adults to discuss, debate and resolve complicated situations that a youngster has faced or might face as they progress towards adulthood. The adult heading the discussions acts as the 'leader' – the person that oversees discussions, keeps them on track and in general, offers several viewpoints for youngsters to comment upon. To assist him with this task, leader sheets are contained within the book that urge him to guide presenting neither answers nor agreeing/disagreeing with viewpoints tendered. Rather he is asked to offer alternatives or more challenging viewpoints.

 

'The book is separated into three sections. Section 1 accommodates 11-14 year olds; section 2 caters to 12-15 year olds and section 3 is aimed at the young adult – the 16-18 year old. The stories contained within each section are read aloud to the group in question setting the scene and topic for discussion. Quite often the stories progress in a given order utilizing the same characters within the stories and promoting the book's effectiveness. As the characters involved become familiar and the consequences of certain actions are brought into play, the issues at hand can be yet further explored.

 

'While the early section of the book deals with viewpoints for discussion, section 2 contains one story that includes role-playing. 'I'm a Person Too,' tackles the issue of teenage and parental rights and suggests that two people, one who takes the role of the mother and one who takes the role of a teenage girl, read the story in question. This one story can effectively bring the situation to life for many youngsters while section 3 differs again by offering hands-on tasks that allow young adults to be the decision makers, and to individualize problems for themselves.

 

'This comprehensive book incorporates many situations and instances related to the every day life of a youth. It would prove a valuable resource for professionals, including councilors and teachers that work with young adults on society related issues. Although the book works best in a group environment, parents could easily adapt its contents for one-on-one discussion.

 

'The book concludes with a selection of useful contacts that pertain to the issues contained within. While these contacts are all based within the UK, many have website addresses that could prove valuable as a starting point for further help and assistance.

 

'Marianna Csoti's book is effective. It is effective because it doesn't judge and we can reach a young adult without criticism and without imposing our views. Too often we dictate, too often we decide the viewpoints for our children and too often we force morality on them without explaining why. Again, this book is effective. Why? Because it gives young adults the greatest gift of all – it allows them their own point of view.'

 

 

*****

 

 

Caroline Hensby - www.adders.org

 

'… the author discusses around 40 topics… helping them to gain valuable life experience and to become more responsible for things and helping them to gain more independence.

 

'Each topic is considered in the story line and is intended to be used in group work where a number of points of view can all be considered in a friendly atmosphere. However it can also be used on a one to one basis as well.

 

'Well written in easy to understand and follow language this is ideal for all those involved with young people for whom social skills are a problem.

 

'Excellent book which really deserves its place on the book shelf of both professionals and parents alike.'

 

 *****

 

Julia Tugendhat (writer and psychotherapist)

 

'The book is separated into three sections. Section 1 accommodates 11-14 year olds; section 2 caters to 12-15 year olds and section 3 is aimed at the young adult – the 16-18 year old. The stories contained within each section are read aloud to the group in question setting the scene and topic for discussion. Quite often the stories progress in a given order utilizing the same characters within the stories and promoting the book's effectiveness. As the characters involved become familiar and the consequences of certain actions are brought into play, the issues at hand can be yet further explored.

 

'While the early section of the book deals with viewpoints for discussion, section 2 contains one story that includes role-playing. 'I'm a Person Too,' tackles the issue of teenage and parental rights and suggests that two people, one who takes the role of the mother and one who takes the role of a teenage girl, read the story in question. This one story can effectively bring the situation to life for many youngsters while section 3 differs again by offering hands-on tasks that allow young adults to be the decision makers, and to individualize problems for themselves.

 

'This comprehensive book incorporates many situations and instances related to the every day life of a youth. It would prove a valuable resource for professionals, including councilors and teachers that work with young adults on society related issues. Although the book works best in a group environment, parents could easily adapt its contents for one-on-one discussion.

 

'The book concludes with a selection of useful contacts that pertain to the issues contained within. While these contacts are all based within the UK, many have website addresses that could prove valuable as a starting point for further help and assistance.

 

'Marianna Csoti's book is effective. It is effective because it doesn't judge and we can reach a young adult without criticism and without imposing our views. Too often we dictate, too often we decide the viewpoints for our children and too often we force morality on them without explaining why. Again, this book is effective. Why? Because it gives young adults the greatest gift of all – it allows them their own point of view.'

 

 

 

*****

 

Communitycare.co.uk Dec 12, 2002

 

The central theme of Contentious Issues is the promotion of social responsibility and awareness in 11 to 18 year olds.

 

Topics range from "grassing" and cheating to stealing, bullying, date rape and racism.

 

Each chapter starts with a fictional story highlighting a social or ethical dilemma.

 

Attached is a discussion sheet to stimulate debate. There is an additional sheet for the group leader in which possible responses are detailed.

 

The facilitator should not provide the answers, but the sheets serve as useful prompts.

 

The sheets also contain information about the issue being discussed. For example, in the exercise about solvent abuse questions are posed about peer pressure and the possibilities of handling this.

 

The leader's sheet contains facts about solvents and other drugs, and the short- and long-term effects of taking them.

 

This book is culturally sensitive and morally unprejudiced. It will be an invaluable resource for teachers, group leaders and parents, and will help young people to approach problems and consider options more thoughtfully and to seek help in the right places.

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