Communication in Education

Richard A Fiordo

This book is an encyclopedia of communication studies concepts and theories designed to assist teachers and instructors at every level of education and training. The 29 chapters are short, ranging from 3 and 4 pages to 15. Each chapter briefly develops a topic and provides an extensive list of references and readings to assist readers who wish to pursue the topic further.

The 25 authors Fiordo has collaborated with have done an excellent job of providing a valuable resource for teachers and advanced students. It is a challenge to maintain a consistent style with so many authors and it is understandable if the readability is a bit variable. Twenty-three chapters are devoted to Part A: Core Communication Curriculum, which is broken down into sections on Interpersonal and Personal Communication, Values in Educational Communication, Gender and Culture in Educational Communication, Organizational Communication in Education, Verbal and Non-verbal Communication, and Educational Communications Technology. Part B, entitled Selected Readings, contains five chapters covering special topics such as teacher evaluation, sexism, computers, students at risk, and whole language problems.

This is not a book for beginners. It requires a considerable background in communication theory to appreciate the level at which the authors write. For example, in Chapter 2, Fiordo advances from learning as the effect of education to meaning and then to levels of abstraction in just four pages. Many books have been written on each of these topics. Nonetheless, a very useful purpose is served in presenting these concepts concisely. One can determine quickly where one's interest (or weakness) lies and look to the chapter notes to find other more extensive resources.

Joseph DeVito in Chapter 7, "Teaching Interpersonally," explains the paradox of teaching interpersonal communication to large classes. He identifies Skills of Interpersonal Competence as assets in teaching large groups and goes on to develop how openness, empathy, supportiveness, positiveness, equality, confidence, immediacy, expressiveness, other-orientation, and interaction management are key to managing the large class as effectively as possible.

Values in Educational Communication is clearly one of Richard Fiordo's strengths. He deals with this complex topic effectively in the three chapters: "Formal Codes," "Humane Values," and "Truth and Honesty in Educational Communication." He looks to a number of philosophers in order to condense the concepts of ethics and values in education: Aquinas, Martineau, Moore, Horney, and Dewey to name a few. His discussion of attribution theory, as "how we come to understand our behaviour and that of others" in the classroom, is insightful.

Kathleen Mahoney takes values in education to a very practical level in Chapter 11, "Evidence and Advocacy for Educators." Using the example of sexual assault of a student by a school principal, she presents the role of evidence in both civil and criminal actions and considers sources and types of evidence, weight and credibility, and general principles regarding admissibility, relevance, and burden of proof.

Claudio Violato examines several topics related to standardized testing in Chapter 12, "Social and Communication Issues in Testing." His discussion of the environment-genetic controversy is clear and concise. The role of the mass media in forming public opinion on educational testing is provocative.

Research in gender bias in education is presented by Suzanne McCorkle in Chapter 13, "The Teacher's Role in Gender Balancing." She examines four attacks (myths) on the need to confront gender and ethnic stereotyping in education: excellence and equity are in competition; culture of schools is feminine; existing laws are sufficient to solve the problem; and we have enough equity now. McCorkle continues with research that confirms that sexism is built into the educational system.

Section Four (labelled Three erroneously) is devoted to Organizational Communication in Education. Three chapters examine: "Implications for the Educator," "Selection of Educational Personnel," and "Communication in Educational Organizations." From an historical overview to the nitty-gritty of strategies for personnel selection, we move to the complex organization of a school system including students, parents, teachers and administrators, and the many ways they communicate with one another in an effort to achieve common goals.

Section Five is entitled Verbal and Non-verbal Communication and contains four predictable chapters: style, oral interpretation, speech anxiety, and non-verbal communication. John Leipzig approaches the need for teacher training in non-verbal communication through a discussion of the following myths: non-verbal communication stems from a natural process, it is more believable than verbal because it is not as prone to manipulation, and when non-verbal behaviours are not intended for another they should not be considered as communicative. He continues with an interesting description of the non-verbal dimensions of chronemics, proxemics, artifact, kinesics, vocalics, haptics, and olfactory/gustatory in the teacher-student relationship.

Part B, the section on selected readings, includes a chapter by Tom Jones that provides an overview of the developments in child-computer interaction and concludes with suggestions for setting up an effective computer environment for children. Ronald Sept in "Sexism and Education" presents the elements of sexism: sexism goes both ways, sexism treats people as objects, sexism reflects imbalances of interpersonal power, and sexism communication--a subtle denial of humanity. He concludes with suggestions for teachers in overcoming sexist communication. The last chapter in this section by Vic Grossi highlights the verbal and non-verbal signs that can alert the teacher to possible at-risk students. He concludes that the teacher is the major gatekeeper in identifying at-risk students and that there is considerable anxiety suffered in dealing with such students. The solution lies in in-service training, i.e., more workshops and seminars.

This book is a valuable resource for any teacher. It will not provide the solution to every educational communication problem but it will assist greatly in identifying the problem and then providing a bibliographic resource for further study.



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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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