May 9, 2009


This is a review of two excellent books for educators, parents, social workers, psychologists, and therapists.

The first book, Attachment in the Classroom by Heather Geddes, (2006), London: Worth Publishing, is a superior resource and should be on your book shelf. The subtitle says it all, “The links between children’s early experience, emotional well-being and performance in schools.” In this book, Dr. Geddes uses the research categories of patterns of attachment (secure, avoidant, ambivalent, and disorganized) to describe how each pattern affects a child’s ability to function in the classroom, use the teacher, and approach the task at hand. She offers extensive examples from the classroom and provides specific suggestions for educators to use for each pattern of attachment. The book should be of general utility to many teachers, not just special education teachers or those who work with children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. This is the real beauty of the book: its general utility as an approach to pedagogy.

Dr. Geddes begins by describing “The Learning Triangle,” which is the relationships among teacher, pupil, and task. Her chapter, “Behavior has meaning,” is a wonderful description of how and why it is vital to focus on the cause, motivation, or driver of behavior and not merely the surface behavior. Dr. Geddes chapter, “Outline of Attachment Theory,” is a good refresher for those who know Attachment Theory and an excellent introduction for those new to it. Her next several chapters on avoidant attachment, ambivalent attachment, and disorganized attachment in the classroom are wonder. Her use of examples, explanations of behavior, and then the provision of specific suggestions and recommendations for teachers will be very helpful for parents, educators, and those who work with educators. She presents clear recommendations that are soundly connected to each attachment style’s pattern of relating. I have been able to use this material in my work with schools with great success. Dr. Geddes as an educator herself provides enormous credibility for this work with school personnel.

I found this book to be very readable and wonderfully informative. I can, without reservation, recommend it to parents, therapists, and educators.

The second book want to recommend to you is, “Learn the Child,” by Kate Cairns and Chris Stanway, (2007), London: British Association for Adoption and Fostering. This book will be of interest primarily to educators and those who train educators. The book begins with an overview of the issues presented by “looked after children,” (British for children in care) and is primarily about UK laws and their evolution and impact on education. However, there are several very detailed case-studies of children in care and how they functioned in educational settings. These case examples will be familiar with anyone who works in our field and highlight the impact on educational processes of chronic early maltreatment. The bulk of the book is a set of forty-eight PowerPoint slides with detailed explanations of each slide. This is the part of the book I found most useful. While the material may be familiar to many of us, it is presented in a format that is easy to understand and that will be very helpful for educators and educational administrators and policy makers. I can envision using this material in presentations to school personal, special education staff, the education staff at residential treatment centers, and policy makers and administrators. The book comes with the PowerPoint slides on a CD for easy of use. Also included in the CD are the case examples, handouts, and other useful material.

While the book is narrow in focus, it should be on the book shelf of anyone who regularly provides training for educators, administrators, and policy makers. The book is expensive, 33.75 pounds, including shipping, but I think it is worth it.

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