People continue to be baffled by the idea that school counseling has a curriculum. More than just the epicenter of solving problems, the counseling center is the place where students get information and skills to build and pursue goals, work through challenges, and live life to the fullest. Just like the Math curriculum and the English curriculum, the counseling curriculum is a learning experience—and the classroom to apply these counseling lessons is life.
Since the idea of a counseling curriculum seems to be just a little too abstract, it might be wise to introduce the idea by linking it to two things people know—parenting and learning. As parents help shape the way their children look at the world, what are they hoping for—what qualities will their children exhibit to show parents they’ve achieved their goal? For that matter, beyond the content of the subject matter, how will a teacher know they’ve helped students develop an outlook that will help them engage the world of math, science, etc.—or the world in general?
Enter the four attitudes. These four expressions best sum up the perspectives held by active thinkers, as they make the most of every learning opportunity, and give the most of themselves. How they do so will vary greatly—but their ability to do so is dependent on parents, teachers, counselors, and all adults modeling the attitudes for them.
“Wow!” Society marvels at the delight young children show in the simplest things—a butterfly, raindrops, the box that the Christmas gift came in (which often gets more attention than the gift itself). High school teachers often lament this attitude of wonder is gone in most of their students, so teachers and counselors need to do everything possible to nurture this intuitive sense, making sure the student stays receptive to a wide array of new ideas.
“What is that?” Once the immediate impression instills a sense of interest, the student is going to need some information—what’s this thing or idea called, where did it come from, what is it used for, what makes it work? These questions are key to providing a baseline of expertise the student can use when applying the thing, idea, or skill being introduced. Counselors want to be sure not to skimp in this area. All students may like the idea of goal setting, for example, but the details of the process are vital to support this initial interest.
“So does that mean…?” Once the student is introduced to the nuts and bolts of something, it’s time for the parent-teacher-counselor to BE QUIET. Giving the student time to internalize the essence gives them time to personalize the idea, and apply it to the rest of what they’ve learned in life. Of course, exercises giving students a chance to reinforce their understanding can be a huge help here. But there needs to be a time and opportunity for students to make this “thing” their own, and connect it with the rest of their world.
“What if…?” Laying the foundation for the first three attitudes leads to the jackpot, where the student sees the new concept for what it is, and takes it—or something like it-- to a place it hasn’t been before—at least in their world, and perhaps even in ours. This step combines knowledge with creativity and imagination, making for broad thinkers, doers, and life-livers—the ultimate goal of learning.
Consider how every counseling interaction advances these four attitudes. You’ll find its relation to the attitudes is the key to holding student interest, and building student success.