I grew up in a period when education was all about a framed syllabus. Our scope of learning new things was limited to text books, teachers, and the nearby library. I still remember that our school library had limited books, and most of the time they were already on a waiting list. If we wanted to read something, we had to wait for our turn. During my time in school, embracing technology meant learning to operate computers in class 6 and it was only in class 9 that we were introduced to the concept of the Internet.
With the dot-com boom of the late 90s, the Indian education system underwent a number of changes. The typical Indian classroom – with students sitting through hour-long teacher monologues – is now passé. Thanks to digitization, knowledge is not limited to the pundits or educators and where students once believed that “teachers know everything,” they now believe “Google knows everything.” These changing trends increase the responsibility on educators’ shoulders.
In today’s world, education is about preparing kids to evolve, and matching pace with rapidly developing social and economic scenarios. Schools need to train students for jobs that are yet to exist, to use technology that will be invented in the future, and to deal with social problems that are beyond imagination. To accomplish this, schools today believe in embracing diversity and nurturing personal growth.
Need for school counselors
During my school days, career counseling was not very prevalent. Most of the time, it was teachers, school faculty members or tutors (outside the school) who doubled-up as career counselors. Many times, students didn’t receive personalized guidance and were directed toward a few “trendy” career options. But just a few short years later, when my younger brother was set to graduate, things were much different – by that time, career counseling was much more recognized. Due to peer pressure, my brother had originally planned to sign up for a Chartered Accountant course, but one session with the professional career counselor changed his career path completely.
His counselor listened intently just like an old friend, and understood his professional desires more deeply. My brother was thrilled to learn about the options and variety of career choices available to him. After taking an aptitude test, he found a hidden knack for marketing and management, and took a Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) program. My brother’s experience made me wonder, why not have career counselors at every school?
In comparison with the past few years, educational institutions have shifted focus from being curriculum-centric to being learning-centric. Realizing the importance of career counseling, many schools are now hiring dedicated staff to assist students with academic, social and vocational dilemmas. School counselors are playing an incredibly imperative role in looking after the development of students and retaining the ethos of the institution. Effective counseling programs are important to the school climate and a crucial element in improving student achievement.
Peeping into the future, it’s obvious that schools will be more technologically advanced than they are currently. Schools, along with their faculty and staff, will empower and connect learners in new and influential ways. In the past, successful curricula were based on interaction – in the future, they will be based on participation. Previously, education revolved around delivered wisdom, but the future will be all about user-generated wisdom. Education has traditionally consisted of two fundamental elements – teaching and learning, with a heavy emphasis on teaching. Now, education is evolving and shifting focus to learning.
As a 90’s kid, I feel that my generation is a fusion of the old and the new and it is our responsibility to strike the balance between “what was” and “what will be.” We carry perceptions from our time, teachers and parents, but before we pass these insights on to the future generation, it is important to fine tune them to match the current atmosphere. Education being the primary medium to pass on wisdom, we must adapt to its evolving trends and be a responsible “voice of change.” It is our duty to encourage counselors and academics who play a key role in banishing skepticism and ensuring that students are free to explore whatever field of study or career speaks to them. In the end, it is this prudent choice that should be carried forward to the future, to ensure the next generation’s success.