The Counsellor and the Client
Every method of learning may be analysed in terms of approach, design and procedure: approach refers to theoretical assumptions about the nature of learning that serve as the source of practices and principles; design is the level of the objectives of the methods, the roles of knowers, learners and instructional materials; procedure encompasses the techniques and behaviour (Richards, J.C. & Rodgers T.S. 1999)
This "mental hypertext" concerns the approach of learning as communication; the design to develop the student's visual, auditory and kinaesthetic potential, by his self-training, self-monitoring, self-feedback, self-assessment and self-evaluation both in the receptive and productive skills; the procedure focused on the reading, listening, writing and speaking activities of the phases.
The techniques of the phases arc useful to:
1. The increase of the contact between the learner and his learning task in different learning contexts, so that he can acquire the familiarity of information;
2. The fast memorisation of the learner's learning task by his recognition of the familiarity of his audio-visual information;
3.The planning of the learner's learning time by his choosing a specific degree of attention;
4. The training in reporting before an audience, by crossing obstacles, overcoming fears or fixed habits and earning self-confidence and self-esteem;
5. The avoidance of the learner's re-studying, by his recalling information;
According to the three stages of Egan's Counselling Model (Egan, G. 1998) the method of Counselling in learning in the "mental hypertext" presents an evolution of the relationship between the knower and the learner working together through past, present and future in a common confidential effort. The past concerns the analysis of the learner's power and weak points and his previous success or failure.
The learner's portrait is painted by the different colours chosen by the knower's and the learner's personalities by using the Counsellor's active listening and the client's story-telling.
The learner may give a description of himself, about the elements which compound his world such as friends, relatives, about his tastes, or what he likes or dislikes.
The analysis of the problem derives from a cooperation between the knower and the learner in which the knower asks the learner to give a description of the problem and its reasons as his personal version of the situation: his failure at an oral test because of his emotivity.
The learner's awareness of the problem and its cause are the first steps to solve the problem itself, to control its frequency and to avoid it from happening in the future.
The learner's understanding of the past gives him the awareness of his potential, resources and limits in the present. The knowledge of the present, as a theoretical survey of the learner's capability, pushes him into action by empowering him to face learning problems in the future.
The knower may give different options of learning as possible solutions; their aim is to elicit the student's reaction and mediate the best solution in a balance of costs and benefits.
The knower may show the future deriving from seeing the other side of the problem such as difficulties in learning as an opportunity to learn a method of learning which may be useful in life; the knower tries to arouse and conquer the learner's will-power by underlining his resources and talking productively about his past scholastic success rather than about his present failure.
The learner's goal arises from the examination of his own personality and of what the origin of the unhappiness which troubles him is.
The knower should try to establish, by testing the learner through the use of oral and written tasks, if the learner's goal to become brilliant is proportional to his potential, in order to avoid disappointment and to disclose to him the possibility of reaching the goal in a shorter or longer time and with different strategies.
The counsellor of learning has to take care of a human being, the learner of independence expressing weakness and longing for certainly.
Moreover the counsellor of learning should have a system of firm moral principles, besides his professionalism, to be honest and genuine in his work; the counsellor should be sensitive and tentative in his awareness of the client's feelings which may be easily hurt or offended with a negative reflection on his own life; the counsellor should try to understand the client by using his professionalism and by testing, step by step, the effect of his therapy on the learner-client in a bilateral relationship in which the most important things are:
l.Thc great respect, without social, economical, religious prejudice, for human beings in general, with their strengths and weaknesses, values and faults.
2. The great respect for the client's freedom or person al liberty expressed by the counsellor's eliciting without imposing, his accepting instead of refusing the learner-client's behaviour.
The counsellor of learning as an elicitor of man's independence acts successfully if he can help the lifelong learner to understand and use his power of communication to establish an interaction between the learner and the world by the learner's giving to it and receiving from it the sense of his own conscious wholeness (Curran, C.A. 1972).
The counsellor of learning possesses, as a feature of his peculiar work, the humble state of mind of submitting his professionalism to man's value.
Alessandra d'Epiro Dusmet de Beaulieu
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