Category : Education Issues
Why Is There A Need For Youth Guidance?
1.1 What does Statistics say about the need for youth guidance?
There have been many cases of youth school violence, which involved youngsters as perpetrator, victim, or both. Youth violence include aggressive behavior which includes verbal abuse, bullying, hitting, slapping, or fist fighting ( 2004). Aside from causing injury and death, youth violence is an undermining force to the community because it increases health care cost, it reduces productivity, it decreases property values, and it disrupts social services (2002). The students at higher risk for a school-associated violent death include those from racial and ethnic minorities who attend urban high schools (1996). In June 8, 2001, went from classroom to classroom in a school in Japan and attacked 6 to 8 year old children with a knife, killing 8 and wounding 13 youngsters. A 55-member counseling team was organized to heal the emotional scars of all the pupils of the said school. , 16 years old, shot his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend, went to his high school where he killed 7 person, wounded seven more, and killed himself later. In recent years, there has been an increase in suicide rates among young people and children in Scotland and the UK. Also, negative coping strategies adapted by young people contribute to the rise in DSH or deliberate self harm. In a survey conducted in England, 10% of 15 and 16 year olds reported that they had engaged in DSH (2002). Even though it is admitted that highest suicide rate occur among 20-24 age range, it has been suggested that the suicidal tendencies were developed much earlier in life, in their teens. It is a fact that young minds are susceptible to wrong influences, emotional problems, mental breakdown, and physical manifestations of social problems.
1.3 Emotional intelligence through counseling, is it important?
It is hard to explain why sometimes children with high Intelligence quotient (IQ) fails while some who have modest IQ succeed. Experts say that this only pzzles us because we have a narrow view of intelligence (1995). He says that even if a child scores high on an IQ test, it does not guarantee that the child will be self-disciplined, motivated, or enthusiastic about life. We must remember that childhood provides the perfect opportunity for shaping the emotional habits of children. Emotional intelligence should be developed side by side with IQ, thus Guidance counseling in school should be promoted along with the curriculum.
1.3 The objectives of this essay in relation to youth guidance concepts
What is being shown here? Young people are undergoing a critical stage where they have a lot of questions about life, a lot of emotions that can’t be explained, and they will probably accept the very first answers they get to be the truth, whether it came from reliable sources or not. Clearly, there is a need for a guiding figure. This responsibility lies on the parents or guardian of the youngsters. But school takes up almost half of a youngster’s waking hours, and so in the school itself, young people should have someone to discuss their problems with, someone who could help them cope with youth stress and anxiety. It is but natural that we will look up to the teachers to take this role, rather than external agents. That is the purpose of this essay: discuss whether teachers can take up the role of a guidance counselor, and if they can, present some observation and tips related to its implementation into any school system.
2. Can Teachers Answer The Call For Guidance?
2.1 Are there any arguments against the concept of teacher-counselor
Despite admitting that our young generation requires the availability of counseling wherever and whenever needed, some group or individuals are still doubtful of the effectively of teachers as counselors. There had been many self-report studies which results indicate the hesitation of both girls and boys to discuss their emotional and social problems with their teachers, thus prompting some sectors to have some doubt on whether the school environment is the most appropriate location for tackling these problems (2001). Another study showing similar results was conducted by (2002) of one London Borough, reporting that among ethnic minority and black young people aged 12 years and above, only 5% of girls and 6% of boys favor a school-based counseling for social/emotional problems. There was also the study of one New Community School in East Lothian where it was found that twice as many girls as boys said that good friendships and close family ties helped to maintain well-being, while 4 times as many boys as girls said that physical activities helped them in maintaining well being, but both gender are both reluctant to speak to guidance teachers due to embarrassment, peer pressure, and a belief that the teacher-counselors did not really understand them (2001). These findings seems to be consistent with other international studies and theories reporting students do not see their teachers as the appropriate adult to talk to when they want to report emotional problems.
There are arguments that can easily be solved like the PHIS (2003) Report which found that only nine per cent of class teachers received any training in the dealing with child and adolescent mental health. There are those who propose that external professional counselors visit schools regularly, instead of putting the responsibility to teachers who were not trained to do that. Questions are raised like “what if the youth’s problems are the teachers themselves?” or “what if the teacher’s performance was affected by bias and student favoritism?” Lack of training can be solved easily by providing it, but the general belief or idea is something that is hard to erase or change. Indeed, the distrust and reluctance of young people pose a problem to those in favor of teacher-counselor concept. Although it is not bad that young people prefer to talk about delicate topics with their friends and family because it is only natural and conducive to emotional and relationship development, the concern of teacher-counselor proponents lies on convincing the general public that teachers can be considered as a good alternative in case of immediate needs or absence of reliable family/peers.
2.2 What are the advantages of relying on teachers to be counselors as well?
There are always two sides of a coin, and if there are doubts on teacher’s ability to cater to young mind’s emotional issues, there are also advantages to this set-up that could counterbalance these doubts. One of the advantages is proximity. Proximity refers to “being there”. To counter the growing issue of juvenile delinquency and student indiscipline, the task of observation, solutions planning and implementation should be given to those who are “there” to witness what is really happening: the teachers. If someone would know what is happening in the school environment, it would be the teachers. It is also possible that visiting counselors would not work because it would be harder for children to strike up the courage to speak with a stranger than speaking with someone they know: the teacher. Teachers can also point out early which student needs help before the situation gets worse. As a teacher, their first objective is to ensure that students learn the skills and basic knowledge they require to develop and live a productive life later on. Emotional problems can hamper a student’s learning ability, thus, ensuring the student’s freedom from any anxiety and emotional problems is also a responsibility of the teacher. The teachers are also expected to keep the order in the classroom, so the teachers are in the best position to pinpoint the root of disruptive behavior among students, which would inevitably be traced back to student emotional problems. Assigning the counseling responsibility to teachers is also a cost effective plan. Currently, there is a lack of counselors for young students in majority of schools worldwide, and this could be attributed to lack of budget for paying the external counselors, transportation cost for visiting counselors, and small number of external counseling services available. It would be more affordable for schools if they opt to offer incentives to teachers for the added effort of counseling emotionally distressed children. In fact, through the years, some teachers have been doing this with no incentives whatsoever, just plain concern for students.
2.3 Are there actual, real-life examples of teacher acting as counselor?
Despite the criticisms and objections, teachers have already been assigned to the task of counseling students in some schools. The results were looking good. In Malaysia, the Education Ministry decided to increase the number of teacher-counselors at secondary schools having more than 1,000 students, and also introduce the concept in primary schools (2001). The policy was proposed by the Cabinet Committee on social ills, indicating that the teacher-counselor concept is accepted by the government itself as a feasible philosophy to address the needs of an effective mental, social, and educational management of a country. Ireland’s “The (2000) reported about three teachers from Belfast Boy’s Model who were awarded their Certificates of Professional Development in Counseling Skills. Also in Ireland, “Birmingham Evening Mail” (1998) featured the story of Sister Philip Hanrahan, the educator who received the 1998 Disney Channel “Teacher of the Year” award for her achievement in counseling students.
3. IMPLICATION FOR PRACTICE
3.1 What are the primary requirements before this system can be implemented?
Compared with other alternatives, implementing the system of teacher as counselors is the easiest option to establish. It may involve some funds allocation but it would be worth it in the long run. The focus of the implementation would be on informing the students and parents about the existence of the system, getting the students to trust the teachers and the system, making the student’s realize about the importance of taking part in counseling sessions, and training the teachers to give them the professional skills to effectively handle the emotional problems of students. For this section, emphasis of discussion will be on the recommended structure of the system and presentation of concepts related to training, because it is the most important phase of the project. Most of the arguments against it came from the idea that teachers are not capable enough to trust with delicate matters such as emotional health. Training and practice is guaranteed to eliminate this.
3.2 Where do teachers get the training needed?
For individual effort, there are many web sites, forum, and newsgroups that offers articles, tutorials, seminars and other self-help documents that could help hone the basic counseling skills for teachers. A formal training as part of a school wide project can also be undertaken by the school or the government. In Ireland, the department of education launched a pilot scheme designed to implement the concept of teacher-counselor in 1995 and a year later, the Teachers’ Centre was requested by the Department of Education to organize the provision of in-service training for teacher-counselors ( 1999). In the US, it was also school initiative to embed emotional literacy within the wider framework of social and emotional learning in the curriculum design (2004) thus emphasizing the schools responsibility of making the instructors/teachers skilled in more than just academic aspect of the curriculum.
3.3 What tips can be given to teacher-counselors for effective counseling?
The publication “Population Reports” gave the following tips on how to handle young students ( 1998). Be open. Teacher-counselor should let students know that there is no wrong question and there is no topic too embarrassing to discuss. Be flexible. Talk about any issues students want to discuss. Use plain, simple and direct words. Be trustworthy. Make the effort to make YOU and the information coming from you believable. If you don’t know the answer, admit it, and then find the answer. Stress confidentiality. Make it clear that whatever the student talks about with you will only be between you and him/her. Be approachable. Keep your cool. Show respect. Be understanding. Avoid judgments. Be patient.
There is an issue of distrust and reluctance to speak with teachers, and although these may be justified in rare cases, it is not a favorable situation. Even without considering the impact on counseling, distance between students and teacher and tension between their relationships cannot contribute to a good learning experience. It seems unfair that students would trust teachers for their educational needs but consider them inefficient or incapable of answering to students emotional needs. This could be, and should be, corrected. It is worth keeping in mind that the issue of teacher-counselor is more than talking about advantages; it is more of talking about necessity. So the magnitude of the need does make the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but it justifies the effort in solving the disadvantages, which is mostly about lack of knowledge and lack of trust. Suppose the training project was implemented and was successful, the tip here is not to wait until students develop the trust, rather, let the system be implemented to earn the trust. In the end, the comparison, the tips, all boils down to a single important factor: the teacher’s “open mind”, the willingness to help and make a difference. Sincerity, after all, is the key to trust and acceptance.