These records, which have great value in showing year-to-year development, include, as we have stated earlier, his scholastic record, his changing interests, his attitude toward teachers and fellow students, and the changes in his personality patterns. Well-organised anecdotal records—objective statements of significant incident— may be very helpful if carefully made from time to time. Autobiographies often reveal characteristics and attitudes unsuspected even by the student himself. Valuable as they are, such records are quite inadequate to provide a real understanding of the pupil. What is needed most is a sympathetic and understanding teacher or counsellor who can interpret the conflicting behaviour of the developing adolescent and look behind and beyond the records themselves to see him as he is. This is essential in any attempt to give guidance to the individual. 2. Cooperation in the School: The development of the self, the ego, is a gradual process which may continue throughout life, but for most people the period of childhood and youth is by far the most important time in the formation of the self.
Understanding of an individual comes from knowledge of how he acts in different situations and why. It might be that the person best able to understand the youth would be the one who has the closest relation to him for the longest period. Teachers see children four to six hours a day, for nine or ten months a year and observe their acts and judge their motives. Teachers, however, see the individual in a more or less restricted situation and are not completely qualified to understand him. Fellow students, on the other hand, observe their classmates in many types of situations which are more varied and lifelike than those seen by parents or teachers. Although the counsellor is, the person who is charged with the responsibility for bringing together all the data in the school records, including the observations and opinions of teachers and peers, he may have comparatively little personal contact with individual students. Often, however, he can judge more objectively than parents and teachers, even though he might not be able to develop a completely accurate understanding of the whole personality by himself. 3.
Cooperation with the Home: The school and the family share the greatest responsibility for understanding. They are so closely related that there is every reason and need for cooperation, but effective methods to bring this about have as yet not been developed. The major responsibility for initiating such cooperation rests upon the school system. During the past ten years a number of systems have been experimenting with different types of cooperation, some of which seem to be very promising. Close personal relations are developed among teachers, parents, business and professional people so that they are known to each other as individuals. Through social occasions and professional meetings they come to know one another better and to realise the necessity for cooperation among friends in all areas, not only in the schools. In many schools lay people have been invited to come to the school for a variety of reasons so that they can know and understand it better.
Some schools are providing “parent” rooms where there are easy chairs and books and pamphlets on school matters and where desirable conferences with teachers, counsellors, and administrators can be arranged. At present the chief means of cooperation with the home is through reports to the parents on the status and progress of the child, but it is difficult to make such reports meaningful to them. The primary meaning is conveyed by the grades received, promotion of non-promotion, and comments on the child’s behaviour. At times conferences are arranged between the teacher and the parents to discuss the status of the pupil. In most schools, however, this conference is held only when there is something wrong. If the pupil is getting along well in school, no need for a conference is seen. The difficulty in providing these conferences is very great; but in the schools where such methods have been adopted, a very definite change has been seen in the relation between teachers and parents not only in their personal contact but also in their friendly cooperation in the solution of problems of pupils and in the improvement of school facilities.
4. Community Information: Teachers and counsellors should know their community if they are to be of maximum help to students. The school needs to know about the community activities of the students. Which ones are active in church work? Which ones are leaders in their neighbourhood peer groups? Contacts with service clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions have been found to be very useful in revealing sources of assistance and also in securing information about students who are friends or relations of members of these organisations. Many schools have found it helpful to initiate some type of community survey, which reveals the resources of the community,and who are willing to talk with students about opportunities a qualities essential to success in life.
Such contacts will help students to understand social and economic conditions and to realise how they may prepare themselves for lines of work for which they are especially fitted.