Book by Ellen Bremen
Review by Kyle Bures
Student Support Services
Neosho County Community College
In Say This, Not That…author Ellen Bremen goes to great lengths in an attempt to bridge the communication gap between students today and campus professionals. Bremen explores common miscommunications between these demographics both in and out of the classroom, as well as online. Although it is clear from the very onset that the book is intended to be read by students (and should be required reading for first year seminars and campus orientation classes), Bremen’s work can be readily used in a variety of capacities. Say This, Not That…applies to advisors and faculty as well, and is broken up into digestible vignettes to allow young advising professionals to easily locate concrete examples of how to address certain behaviors from students.
Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the book is that it is not necessarily best read straight through. Rather, Bremen has organized it in such a way that (1) students can go directly to an example of how to approach an instructor or advisor in a specific circumstance, or (2) advisors can use the supplied case studies for role play or student workshops, or (3) faculty can use the reading as discussion for orientation/seminar classes. Regardless of the capacity in which it is exercised, Say This, Not That… illustrates the importance of teaching students to develop their own voice, take accountability, communicate respect, and ultimately understand how their behaviors may be viewed by others, despite their intent.
If the book has any weakness, it may be that Bremen goes too far at moments to generalize her viewpoints to imply that all faculty share in her views. However, she makes a point periodically to step back to remind the reader that they are indeed her opinions.
As mentioned, Bremen’s work has great adaptability to use in the advising profession. Suggested uses may include gaining background and insight into student behaviors, implementation in workshops on student/instructor communication, discussion of case studies for advising trainings, as well as ideas for dialogue during advising sessions.
The utility of Bremen’s book makes it a great addition to any advisor’s toolkit. Advisors who find themselves pressed for time can still make use of its individual case studies and draw from Bremen’s experiences in communicating with students. In summary, Say This, Not That… is a modern tool that facilitates the repair of an existing disconnect between students and campus professionals.
Say This, Not That to your Professor: 36 talking tips for college success. (2012). Book by Ellen Bremen. Review by Kyle Bures. Norlights press. 170 pp. $15.95, (paperback), ISBN # 978-935254-68-3