ERIC Identifier: ED260366
Publication Date: 1984-00-00
Author: Walz, Garry R.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Counseling and Personnel Services Ann Arbor MI.
Counseling and Educational Excellence: A Response to "A Nation
at Risk". In Brief: An Information Digest from ERIC/CAPS.
A review of the reports on excellence in education would suggest that the
student is frequently viewed as a non-person, and that his/her motivation, needs
and interests are insignificant in improving the quality of learning.
Recommendations consistently refer to what should be done to and about students.
Only rarely are students' attitudes and feelings discussed, or the effect of
these on student involvement in and response to schooling.
Student excellence will, in the long run, depend on the attitudes, values and
decisions of individual students. We can legislate the length of the school
year, extend the school day, and provide more rigor in the school curriculum.
However successful these changes may seem to be, their ultimate effect on
educational excellence will depend on how students respond to them, and on
whether they personally value the proposed changes and see them as meaningful in
their own lives.
It is absolutely essential that we pay attention to the persons for whom
change is intended. More than anyone in the school, the counselor is in a
position to interpret the student to educational decision-makers and to
emphasize the importance of understanding and working with students. Conversely,
counselors have a unique role to play in helping students understand their
options and make wise and informed educational choices.
Choice by the learner is and always will be an important aspect of American
education. The way to improve education is not to take the choice away from
those who will be most affected by choices, but to improve their ability to make
their own decisions.
NEW IMPERATIVES FOR COUNSELORS
Our current crisis in education, like all crises, confronts us not only with
serious problems and challenges, but also with new opportunities. The
opportunities for counselors to contribute to educational excellence can be
described in the following set of imperatives.
Provide an Increased Emphasis on Learning and Cognition
The orientation of the counselor is to view students as whole persons, not to
separate a problem or concern from those who are experiencing it. Yet to help
students master present and future challenges, counselors need to assist them in
analyzing and improving their learning efficiency. Through assessment of basic
learning style, use of time, learning/study habits, attitudes, and
decision-making skills, counselors can identify areas for student improvement.
How a student manages his/her learning is as important as how the curriculum is
constructed. To focus solely on the curriculum and ignore the learner will
negate much of what is desired.
Diffuse Guidance and Counseling Throughout the Curriculum
To be most effective, guidance and counseling need to be thought of as
integral parts of the curriculum. They are not special services or curricular
add-ons, but a vital force within the school environment. Frequently designated
as comprehensive guidance, this approach establishes specific goals and
objectives for guidance at each grade level and utilizes a wide variety of
techniques and approaches to achieve them. Comprehensive guidance programs call
for a high degree of flexibility and resourcefulness on the part of counselors.
It is the counselor's responsiblity to help all students through a variety of
learning modes and activities, to gain greater insights into themselves, and to
make the plans and undertake the actions which will enable them to achieve their
potential as effective learners and contributing citizens.
Incorporate Life-Career Planning in Counseling
Students perform best when they see that their learning leads to a
high-priority personal goal. Establishing and working toward important life
goals is a powerful motivator for students to undertake difficult learning
tasks. A continuously reviewed and upgraded life career plan for each student
can become the focus of his/her educational effort--it can become the glue that
binds together many disparate educational activities and experiences.
Plan for Professional Renewal
The ability of counselors to contribute to the excellence of the school and
the attainments of individual students is strongly influenced by counselors' own
level and recency of knowledge. Counseling is not a craft to be practiced as it
was by one's predecessors. A continually changing society requires that the
counselor know the culture and be able to communicate with students about it. In
particular, counselors need to understand the major changes that technology is
bringing to all spheres of our information society.
They can profit by their own renewal, as well as by their capacity to
facilitate the learning of others in the judicious use of computers and other
high technology. They need to be consumers of technology and, more importantly,
program designers--persons who take the lead in describing which technology can
be nd what content can be presented appropriately through technology. Counselors
who are neither given the opportunity for nor reinforced in continuing their
professional growth will serve as poor role models for others; they will also be
unable to untilize the resources which would most likely help students achieve
Assess Personal and Program Effectiveness
Positive change in programs and services depends upon having a systematic
procedure for establishing objectives and assessing outcomes. An important
responsibility for the counselor is to insure a regular and systematic
assessment of individual and program effectiveness. Exotic and complicated
research designs are not needed as much as commitment to the systematic
collection of data about what is offered to students in the way of assistance
and counseling, and what kinds of outcomes or changes are the result of what has
been provided. The emphasis here is the commitment to continually examining and
re-examining programs and practices and to using the insights gained from that
analysis to make changes and refinements in the program.
Students "competently guided" to acquire the capacity for making mature and
informed judgments, for securing gainful employment, and for managing their
lives so that they are personally rewarding--it is to these ends that counseling
is directed. Counselors who see this as their role and bring their many talents
and skills to the task can contribute enormously to a "renaissance" in guidance
and in the schools. The consequences of such an emphasis are not totally
discernible, but are likely to produce individuals who have both the know-how
and the vision to master the tasks that confront us as we approach the
FOR MORE INFORMATION
French, Michael P. THE COUNSELOR'S ROLE IN THE SECONDARY READING PROGRAM:
SELECTED ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS. Paper presented at the annual meeting fo the
Wisconsin State Reading Association Spring Conference, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin,
March 18-20, 1982. ED 216 341.
Griggs, Shirley A. COUNSELING HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FOR THEIR INDIVIDUAL
LEARNING STYLES. Jamaica, NY: St. John's University, 1983. ED 237 879.
Herr, Edwin L., Jean A. Thompson, and Garry R. Walz. THE ROLE OF COUNSELING
IN ACHIEVING EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE. Ann Arbor, MI: ERIC Counseling and
Personnel Services Clearinghouse, 1984. ED 251 785.
Krick, Robert L., and Earl J. Moore. THE LIFE CAREER ASSESSMENT: A STRUCTURED
INTERVIEW TECHNIQUE FOR COUNSELORS AND ADVISORS. GEORGIA COMPREHENSIVE GUIDANCE
SERIES. Columbia, MO: Missouri University, Department of Counseling and
Personnel Services, 1980. ED 222 849.
Lawrence, William W. HOW TO DEVELOP A BETTER GUIDANCE PROGRAM. Paper
presented at the National School Boards Association Convention, San Francisco,
California, April 23-26, 1983. ED 241 889.
McLaughlin, Betty L., and others. STATE OF MAINE COMPREHENSIVE LIFE-LONG
GUIDANCE PLAN. Augusta, ME: Maine Personnel and Guidance Association; Maine
State Department of Educational and Cultural Services, 1981. ED 230 845.
Owens, Clinton R., and William C. Berryman. HOW TO DEVELOP A COMPREHENSIVE
GUIDANCE PROGRAM: LEADERSHIP MANUAL. PROFESSIONAL RENEWAL OF GUIDANCE AND
COUNSELING PERSONNEL. Project Renew 77. Montgomery, AL: Alabama State Department
of Edcucation, 1980. ED 201 810.
Walz, Garry R., and Libby Benjamin. SHAPING COUNSELOR EDUCATON PROGRAMS IN
THE NEXT FIVE YEARS: AN EXPERIMENTAL PROTOTYPE FOR THE COUNSELOR OF TOMORROW.
Ann Arbor, MI: ERIC Counseling and Personnel Services Clearinghouse, 1983. ED