Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselors and Information Literacy from the Perspective of Willard Daggett

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselors and Information Literacy from the Perspective of Willard Daggett

Article excerpt

The central leadership role to be played by school counselors in 21st century schools focuses on growth and success for all students. The American School Counseling Association National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs emphasizes closing the academic, career, and personal/social development achievement gaps among disparate groups of students (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2003). Within the National Model context, school counselors take on greater significance, assuming leadership and change agent roles within the school community. Yet, with the tremendous expansion of school counselor responsibilities, there is a lack of data regarding the knowledge base of school counselor preparation in relation to actual practice (Holcomb-McCoy, Bryan, & Rahill, 2002). As a result, expecting school counselors to be leaders in creating and nurturing a school vision that effectively prepares students for the future and supports classroom teachers, administrators, and the school community challenges the status quo at many levels.

To initiate such a change process, school counselors must alter their basic understanding of what education means. Expanding school counselor leadership requires questioning current definitions about literacy and learning and expectations about student achievement and success.

School counselors need to track global changes that will undoubtedly require new ways of thinking about what students must know to meet future employment needs. Subsequently, they need to communicate the implications of these changes to students, teachers, curriculum development specialists, administrators, parents, and community stakeholders.

School counselors risk becoming irrelevant when they fail to bridge the gap between present student outcomes and future employment needs. Conversely, as a result of helping students make curriculum choices, accessing community feedback, and understanding of student development theory, school counselors can be knowledgeable of what students need to know and what they need to be able to do as adults within an increasingly competitive technological and global workplace.

CHANGING ROLES OF THE SCHOOL COUNSELOR

With education increasingly accountable for what students can do and not just for the courses they take, the emphasis in schools is moving from teaching to learning. Schools are asked to create learner-centered opportunities, with school counselors advocating for active learning through resources and strategies that appeal to varied student interests and learning styles. Watching youth struggle within and through their high school transition, school counselors see opportunities for integrating relevant activities into classrooms, thus providing students access to the skills and knowledge needed to function in a technological, information-based society. School counselors observe returning students, study annual follow-up reports, and gain insights into the performance requirements for information management and decision making (U.S. Department of Labor, 1999). They are well aware that students are increasingly demanded to retrieve, analyze, and evaluate large amounts of data and to distinguish fact from opinion as they make sound decisions.

More than ever counselors must play an active role in shaping curricular and instructional decisions as technology skills and higher and more diverse forms of literacy are expected of students to become truly educated adults. This can be accomplished by astute analysis of labor market trends, emerging fields, developing technologies, and human resource development issues. Counselors need to share workplace-related data to ensure understanding of current and future workplace literacy requirements. As they witness the escalating influence of technology and information, they are expected to argue for the educational options needed to prepare students for success in a dynamic workplace.

CHANGING DEFINITION OF AN EDUCATED PERSON

In the waning industrial economy, a baccalaureate degree generally guaranteed a good-paying job and a stable, respectable career. …

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