Wednesday, April 16, 2014

School Counselor & Learning Specialist

Assalamualaikum wbt.

For most of us who went through years of schooling, especially in boarding school, school counselor is one of our favorites to go to whenever we encounter problems. The problems can be as little as "homesick" to as big as moral issues. Our school counselors are usually lovable teachers, they are close to many students, but some are of the opposite too. I did not remember having any school counselor when I was in primary school, but I had two in secondary-high school. They are the person behind school programs such as drug awareness program, no-smoking campaign dan motivational programs for the classes that will be sitting for national examinations. 

All these years, little did I know about the role of our school counsellor. My observations came into a conclusion that students only go to them for psychology-related problems, moral and out-of-norms activities spotted around school and what teenager-related issues. I did not do any studies and what not have the thought to ask and interview any counselor teachers. So here are some of my findings about the role of a school counselor as described by the Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia (Ministry of Education Malaysia) in 1984:

MOE ruled 10 principle guidelines to describe the role of school counselor and their expected contributions to the school's administration and academic performance. That's right, sounds stressful when we talk about the big yet fundamental word, performance. The counsellors' role are then limited to 8 specific areas:

  • Counseling and support service - includes individual and group counseling, outside consultation when there are no expert presence at school for certain issues.
  • Administration
  • Academic - help students in need for motivational booster for PMR, SPM and STPM.
  • Careers - provide insight of what beyond high school
  • Psychosocial dan healthy mind
  • Parents' counseling
  • Students' self development 
  • Drug abuse prevention education
The presence of school counselors help to smoothen the school administration as well as aiding the academic teachers to focus on their syllabus without having to worry about the social issues among students. Let the experts handle the matters. In Malaysia, social problems among students caught most attention and the school counsellors are often the right person to refer to. The society believes that social problems should be given most attention at school after the academic because the students grow up to be the future leaders. They could not afford to have leaders with social problems etc. However, there is one little aspect which I think most schools do not pay attention to is the "students' learning problem". Even though providing academic support to students is also embedded in the "list" of counselors' job, it seems that the students themselves do not see this as a crucial problem. I would call for Learning Specialist in addition to school counselors at school

I believe my providing this facility at school, students and teachers will realize:

  1. All students are unique that they posses different learning styles
  2. Teachers need to adapt to different learning styles by students
  3. Many of us, students posses learning disabilities that we don't realize until we encounter problems in understanding some materials.
Humans' learning styles can be categorized into audio, visual, kinesthetic etc. Some may easily understand certain topics just by sitting and listening to teachers in classes, but some may need to try a little harder to imagine what is going on around him/her. Some students maybe dyslexic, discalculia or having ADHD undiagnosed. Why we should address all of these problems?

Clearly, when someone is left behind in class, not getting what the teacher is saying, we tend to call him/her "BODOH" or "LEMBAB". This person may not getting the gist of the teaching due to the teaching style not resonating with the students' learning style. In the end, those people stayed left behind, be the loyal member of the bottom rank of the academic years, not getting a place in higher institutions, not getting good jobs to earn living. Then we keep complaining about the poor and the rich, educated and the uneducated. The gap becomes bigger ladies and gentleman. Remember, these people may be the dumbest in classroom, but they may be more skillful than those book worms. I would like to write more, but I just can't find words to express my idea.


See, another disability spotted. Difficulty in translating your idea into words. Yes, everyone of us have it once a while.  

What about "Special Education" teachers? Are they not doing their job as learning specialist at school? (To be continued)

This post is not especially dedicated to criticize the role of counsellor and Special Education teachers at school. Rather, I am looking at loop holes for better refinement and improvement in our education sector in Malaysia. After all, all of these are just personal opinions and does not reflect my full understanding of those professions mentioned. Comments and enlightenment are most welcome ;)

Small dot of opinion - cosmic universe.

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