36 The Ecological Perspective Teaching Methods and Skills The emphasis in the chapter and in class discussion should be on the practical application of ecological concepts that can seem very abstract to students. We assume that instructors will discuss this chapter early in the practice course. At this point, students may have only limited information about their clients and their clients’ social environments. Therefore, we suggest that you use the case examples presented in the chapter to teach ecological concepts such as level of fit ecological thinking historical, social, and individual time life stressors and coping and power and powerlessness. 1. In preparing for class discussion, ask the students to consider the applica- tion of ecological concepts to one of the cases described in chapter 2 (16-year- old Bryan and his parents, Ron and Suzanne the second grader, Tyrese, who is referred to the school social worker 28-year-old Timothy, a survivor of sexual abuse Sally Newton, the 7-year-old diagnosed with brain cancer and her fam- ily the Morningside Hill community). Break the class into small groups of three to five members and assign each group an ecological concept and ask them to present the application of the assigned concept to the case illustration. Before students begin their preparation and presentations, you may wish to apply the concept of level of fit to the illustration as a guide and model for their presentations. 2. To stimulate students’ thinking about the social purpose and function of social work, invite them to identify basic life stressors that the Williams family members are experiencing. What are the members’ personal resources and limitations when dealing with these stressors? These should include physical, cognitive, perceptual, social, emotional, and spiritual factors. Next, ask the stu- dents to identify environmental forces that serve as resources and gaps for the Williams family in dealing with their life stressors. Students can be asked to specify environmental requirements for these needs to be met, ranging from the intimate environment outward to other social institutions. We use figure 2.1 to help students conceptualize this discussion. The envi- ronment can be further distinguished using concentric circles representing clients’ most intimate connections (an innermost circle) to those that represent less intimate but equally important connections, like friends, neighbors, and col- leagues, as well as influences in the environment that affect clients like social welfare policies and institutional racism and social privilege (an outermost circle). When the task is completed, engage the students in a discussion of how they might try to help the family and its members. 3. If students have been assigned case records or been briefed on a client, instructors can ask students to identify the stressors that their clients face in
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