May 1, 2019
Time and again, we hear vociferous demands being made nowadays by the academicians regarding the need for qualified counsellors in our schools. Times have changed and the background of children that we admit into our schools is totally different from some decades ago; we get children from nuclear families, over protected, pampered, nevertheless living in lonely ambience, many a time without siblings, with no opportunities for interaction, communication so on and soforth are the reasons highlighted for the demand.
No one can deny that there is no truth in these statements, just let us look at ourselves, how we have grown up. Our childhood background, at least in rural areas, was entirely different from the present generation children. Our homes were open, in the sense most of the houses in the village had no doors, even if there were, hardly they were closed, rather kept permanently open. This itself shows the open, transparent atmosphere of mutual availability, public nature of daily living and mutual interactions and communications. How much time we actually spent ‘inside’ the home, but for food and sleep? We were most of the day in the open air, mingling with all neighbouring children of all creeds, castes and groups, either working in the garden, or playing with friends or just rattling stories and running here and there aimlessly.
This does not mean that olden days ‘counselling’ was not needed for children and presently it is a ‘must’. This is to misunderstand the role of counselling in one’s life. We need to distinguish two perspectives or two functions of counselling. One is the positive aspect of counselling – it is the guidance given, enlightenment provided to a child that grows up, regarding its own potentialities, aptitudes and future orientations. This is necessary for every child in the school so that the children unfold their personalities and grow up with a strong sense of self-understanding of themselves. They learn to make right choices in their academic career with an understanding of themselves, what they can do and achieve spontaneously and what is not their cup of drink.
Then there is another perspective or curative aspect of counselling, orientated towards the reform and renewal of their lives. Willy-nilly children are prone to fall into the pit of their own weaknesses, make wrong choices, get into bad habits, neglect studies and become ‘problematic’ to others. They need to ‘reform’ their lives. A counsellor can play the role of a facilitator in such cases. These children need a lot of help to bring them back to their senses, to understand the meaning of their life and its goals, thus create in them a desire to reform themselves, which gradually can become a determination strengthened by a strong will to climb higher and higher on the ladder of life attainments.
This explanation can bring to light the hollowness of the argument that olden days children did not need counselling and present day it is urgent. May be olden days, the society or the educational system never cared to provide guidance to make right choices, as a result they made innumerable wrong choices resulting in frustrations during the later stages of life. We can also affirm that society neglected to provide sufficient help to reform the character and behaviour of children who drifted away from the right path. We can fairly well affirm that counselling is a need for all children of all times and of all backgrounds. What we can appreciate is the new awareness created among the elite educated of the society to provide counselling in all schools and to all children. This might be also due to enormous increase in the number of children being admitted from broken/divorced families. Now the awareness should give rise to concrete results. Few schools, especially the public schools are attempting to provide counselling to ‘all’ children, which is a laudable step.
Here, let me amplify the point of guidance provided to children to make right academic options as the SSLC and PUC results are just out in the public. This is the right time for parents to sit with their ward in the presence of a good counsellor and to analyse the options available to choose on the one hand and the basic potentialities and aptitudes of the child on the other. No doubt, we need to remember that we are living in a competitive world, where the ‘survival of the fittest’ appears to be the norm of success in life. Such being the case, the purpose of choosing a proper stream of academic curricula in which the candidate can attain excellence should be the prime guiding principle of making right choice. Employment opportunities are in abundance for those who attain excellence and very rare for those who are below average. Hence which stream is the ‘best’ for me given my capacities, aptitudes and natural talents should be the focus in selecting a stream. Let me urge you dear children to stop comparing yourself with your friends, where they are opting to go and what they are opting to do. Their talents and aptitudes may be totally different from yours. Your sole focus should be on your capacities to attain best results in a particular stream of academics. Counsellor can give you some aptitude tests, analyse your academic background, your natural talents and help you to make right choice, which may not look very glamorous and attractive at first. I know a friend of mine who completed his CA and then took up music as his career. He became a lead guitarist and told me that he is earning equally good in the entertainment industry, besides finding immense fulfilment in his job. Then I thought to myself, why he wasted so much of his energy and time to get through the professional qualification like chartered accountant, a crystal clear case of wrong academic choice in life.
Let me come back to our main point of need for counselling in schools. In the context of a school, it is important to see that every teacher is trained in basic skills of counselling. The career of a teacher is different from that of a lecturer; a teacher constantly interacts with the children. Whether you are a lecturer or a teacher, you can be at the same time a counsellor par excellance: if you are a lecturer interested only in proclaiming epistemological theories, you can never be a Counsellor; similarly, if you are a teacher who is motivated by only academic grades, to display ‘high academic scores’ of every pupil, then you also cannot claim to be a Counsellor. This leads us to the conclusion, that counselling is not merely a qualification, but also an ‘attitude’, whether you are oriented towards the holistic growth of your wards or only in ranking and high grade transcripts.
What we can suggest is that the transcripts of our school should display not merely the academic scores, but also provide space to display the psycho-ethical characteristics and the personality traits of the child, like general behaviour, attitude and capacity to adjust and go on with other classmates, motivation to help and support others, openness to discipline, basic talents and potentialities and the like.
All children should be taught to be grateful to their parents who are the best counsellors. Providence has provided them from the time they saw the light of the day; it is they who moulded their lives into what they are today. It is the duty of all teachers to appreciate and utter a word of praise to every parent they meet in the context of their career as teachers.
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