Book by Denise Carlyle and Peter Woods
Review by Criselda Marquez
Everyone experiences a certain amount of emotional stress when change occurs.
Some people are able to cope and respond well to changes while others are still developing their emotional intelligence or literacy and are less able to cope. As a result the stress becomes too much and they sometimes succumb to clinical depression.
Denise Carlyle and Peter Woods studied the emotional impact changes had on teachers in the United Kingdom. Following a push for education reform throughout the early to mid- 90’s, there appeared to be a direct link to the dramatic increase in the number of early retirements due to “ill health.” The authors hoped to provide direct evidence of this link by conducting a longitudinal study. They interviewed twenty-one secondary teachers within the United Kingdom education system between 1996 and 1998. This book gives us a look into the thoughts and feelings of these people.
The authors assert that “before their stress, teachers enjoyed esteemed and stable identities, with consistency between the demands of the teacher role and their own values, and between work and home. Teaching was a personally rewarding job. During the first phase of stress, teachers lose the intrinsic rewards of teaching, loose control and autonomy, collegiality, emotional skills, awareness and regulation, and become emotionally estranged” (p. xxiii). Through personal interviews, we hear about their experiences as their depression progressed to the point where they had to take leave from their work settings.
Once a person has reached the point of total breakdown there often is no choice but to seek help. The approach to recovery and re-entry into society and work are examined. In many cases, the person is able to return to the same settings with a new set of coping mechanisms. However, there are those who, after much contemplation, realize that a complete change in settings or vocation is necessary.
Although Emotions of Teacher Stress seems redundant through the first few chapters, it provides useful advice for continued development and maintenance of emotional literacy. While the book focuses on teachers and the education system, the information and insight provided are easily transferred to anyone who has experienced or witnessed depression and high levels of stress. This book may help us better understand the experiences of our students, colleagues and family members.
Emotions of Teacher Stress. (2003) Book by Denise Carlyle and Peter Woods. Review by Criselda Marquez. Herndon, VA: Trentham Books. 189 pp., $22.50, (paperback), ISBN # 1 858562732