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Introduction: Guiding conception to grave learning pathways
In Open Educative Systems terms, 'counseling' is a major institution equal in importance to delivering curriculum (often called 'teaching' in 2016). When a parent (or parents) decide to keep a fetus, that child's education begins. When the child dies, not matter what age, that individual's education ends. Everything that person learns makes up his or her learning pathway. Many of the experiences on the pathway will be serendipitous, unplanned and unintentional. Others will be consciously crafted, designed to produce knowledge, skill or pleasing experiences. Before birth and for several years thereafter the child will need guidance in deciding what directions to take, setting goals and getting access to the resources that will help attain the outcomes s/he desires. Even after the individual becomes mature enough to choose his/her own directions human help is likely to be needed to locate resources, talk over possibilities before making decisions, encourage, and solve unanticipated problems. The Open Educative Counselor works with the parents during the child's early life and then shifts to the learner as independence is achieved.
The Counselor's role is advisory only. S/he does not become involved in teaching any subject matter, tutoring, developing educational materials, or certifying. Counselors may recommend and administer psychological, aptitude, learning style and achievement tests to discover more about the learners personal characteristics and active knowledge. Counselors use these instruments to guide the learner in understanding his/her own interests and potentials and to identify 'educative experiences' that will be appropriate and satisfying steps on the learning pathway.
In traditional 20th and 21st century schools learning pathways are rarely individualized or personalized. Educational institutions usually offer students of various ages a very limited choice of courses, classes and 'independent studies'. There are only three major tracks: high school graduation, academic tertiary (college or university) programs or vocational/professional training. In OES, any learner would have access to any educative experience (class, course, MOOC, etc.) produced by any organization or institution of education as long as the learner had the prerequisites to benefit from the experience without detracting from the experience of others. The number of opportunities makes the tasks of identifying possibilities, choosing among them and managing attendance logistics serious challenges for the independent learner. Counselors facilitate these choices, offer advice about their alignment with learner's goals, coordinate logistics including seeing to any appropriate certifications and accurate record keeping.
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