Thai counseling teachers need more support from the system
12 years in counseling works, Manus Onsang, Dek-D.com web editor said he met with counseling teachers enough to know they were mostly well-intended and overburdened with non-counseling school work.
Though every year, he has a chance to guide fresh faces from high-school seeking ways to university, he said some same issues keep happening.
“The same problem I have been experiencing every year is their self-discovery. They are almost finished high school. They are at the intersection, and they don’t know which way they should turn, or which way will suit them.”
Another issue that happens every year, but might be in different forms, is the university entrance system
There are many changes in the university entrance system, either big overhauls or small details, especially in the last 6 years, Manus said. Every time things change, counselors have to reeducate themselves about it.
In a perfect world, counseling teachers will just do mainly counseling jobs and keep themselves current with the changes. In the real world, at least in Thailand, counseling teachers are often assigned to do non-counseling work, and most schools usually allocate not even an hour weekly for their students to counseling sessions.
Manus said he is lucky that he has been working as an education news reporter for a long time that when there is a change, he will get notified. He often has a chance to ask for the reason for those changes.
“Sometimes I could see that the explanation from the adult and the children are from different perspectives. That’s why kids are confused with the system because adults explain things from their view while kids understand it from another angle”.
Manus said he acts as a medium. He knows how he can communicate with the children to make them understand all these systems.
He has been sharing his knowledge with schools around the country. It’s not just students that are confusing, the counseling teachers often have something to ask him as well. the overwhelming non-counseling work seems to hold these teachers back on their real intended duty.
From Manus’s personal experience, he said he feels sorry for all these teachers.
“The first thing I want to reflect on is that all counseling teachers are well intended and want to achieve their goals in counseling but the context and the environment do not help them at all. Some counseling sessions were just happening on a marble bench (outdoor), and kids have to learn things by themselves”.
“Layman speaking, it is the class that does not get attention from the management or the (education) structure as much as it should be,” Manus added.
Manus also reflects that even if some students think about studying to be a counseling teacher, the major in psychology and counseling does not even open for admission every year.
He sums up that from his experience, counseling teachers often have too much other work on their hands, they have no help, not even practice teacher, and there is definitely not enough counseling teachers to go around.
All this leads to teachers only having time to just put out a fire in front of them.
Manus said counseling work actually is not about understanding the system and getting them into university. It is also about self-discovery.
Manus said first thing first, Thailand has to provide counseling teachers with more support. We have to support them more.
Secondly, we have to promote the counseling session. Counseling is a subject that does not exist in many schools’ class schedules. They just sum it up with other classes.
Thirdly, he said the curriculum, the system structure, between high school and the university does not exactly link. It’s like the kids study high school, so they can graduate with a good grade. Then students can’t continue with that. They don’t know where to go next, which major (in university). It’s like the two curricula do not connect.
“And I also think the secondary school curriculum, though it has been updated, is not current, not catching up with the world”.
Manus reiterates the importance of self-discovery. It is crucial that the children know their own potential, and know what they like. And the current secondary education system in Thailand does not give them space or opportunities to explore much beyond the academic classes.
Schools might not have time to do anything much for students that will take a university entrance exam in 2023 now. But for the sustainable solution to make sure our next generation has a full opportunity in life, we have to change the way we treat our children in school. They need time to digest what they learn, experience things beyond the textbook, and discover themselves.
by Kiratikorn Naksompop Blauw