The education sector faces the ever-mutating challenge of keeping up with new concerns every so often. In the education sector, certain events may lead to a drastic shift in the views and policies of educational institutions. This is understandable, given the fact that the sector influences the delicate lives and future of children and young people. Given the sensitivity of issues faced by the education sector, a thorough understanding of these current issues is essential. This paper attempts to unveil the most disconcerting and most urgent issues that barrage the education sector. The paper gives a meticulous account of the issues that surround the discipline, security, technology, and psychology in schools. The paper relies on peer-reviewed journals, books, and other authoritative sources on the subject, picking out the most relevant information in the context of current issues that surround the education sector.
Keywords: current issues, discipline, security, technology, psychology
Issues in Education
Education sector has been one of the most versatile sectors in the public domain owing to the new issues that continuously appear in it. The education sector has had to deal with challenges relating to several issues that are relevant to it. Researchers had to dust the dirt off their tools and get down to work to resolve issues that kept assailing this sector. Discipline, for instance, has been an issue to contend with from the time formal schools were established. And yet, its highly metamorphic nature has never let parents, teachers, school managers, policy makers, and other stakeholders stop scratching their heads for new solutions. This paper addresses some of the emerging issues in education and analyzes how they impact the ability of students to benefit from the education system.
Although discipline has been on the agenda for ages, it remains a thorn in the flesh for many educators and educationists. Several issues influence discipline in schools, and they all impact it in different ways. Nevertheless, various influences on discipline all touch upon one point: discipline remains a dynamic issue that calls upon novel policies and practices (Curwain, Mendler, & Mendler, 2008).
The most common and persistent disciplinary challenges in most schools are violence and possession and use of drugs and weapons. These challenges have elicited strict disciplinary measures in terms of both policy and practice. Other less serious disciplinary challenges include truancy, classroom disruptions, inappropriate language, and dress-code violations. These have equally educed some form of disciplinary action.
Schools are witnessing an increased number of incidents of violence. School violence is stereotypically associated with urban schools (Miller, 2008), Nevertheless, even rural schools have demonstrated an increased level of violence. For instance, mass shootings have occurred in various rural schools. This increased level of violence and violence-based forms of indiscipline have created a mounting concern over methods that could be used to preempt it. Miller (2008) posits that many conflicts that lead to violence in schools result from faulty social processing of information. He postulates that understanding the steps of social information processing from the psychological perspective could be the way to go to prevent violence in schools.
Many schools frequently utilize exclusionary discipline as a punitive method to improve discipline (Mcloughlin & Noltemeyer, 2010). Suspension and expulsion are firm disciplinary actions that are used to punish students, who engage in severe indiscipline. However, more often than not, students who constantly engage in minor offences, such as talking back at teachers, missing classes, or repeatedly violating dress codes, often find themselves victimized by these disciplinary measures.
Debate has emerged over the appropriateness of using exclusionary methods to instill discipline in schools. While the majority holds that exclusionary measures help instill discipline in schools, research has shown that they are less effective than they appear. It appears that removing students from supervised settings not only wastes most of their precious instructional time, but it also puts them at a greater risk of gang involvement, juvenile delinquency, and dropping out from school (Losen, 2011). Research conducted by the National Education Policy Center recommends that exclusionary discipline should be restricted to serious disciplinary cases. Another recommendation is that better systems, such as the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), should be used to address disciplinary cases with a better chance of instilling discipline than those offered by exclusionary discipline.
Security has become a main concern both in elementary school as well as in higher learning institutions. Mass shootings by trigger-happy individuals, who enter academic institutions and point the nozzle at anyone on sight and kill them are not a new issue in the US. They have shed the light on the preparedness of school authorities to deal with major breaches in security that could cost many innocent lives. The most recent mass killings were the Newtown killings. In the morning on December 14, a wayward twenty-year old stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed twenty children and six adults before committing suicide (Barron & James, 2012). This tragedy, and many others before it, have recurrently raised questions about the efficiency of security systems of learning institutions across the United States.
While many people have recognized the fact that such killings happen due to many different factors, it boils down to how secure both teachers and students are within the school environment. Surprisingly, school security systems and the policies that influence them have only slightly changed even after such happenings have elicited a dire need to improve school security systems. Where does the solution lie? The solution lies in recognizing a number of truths and acting on them.
First, mass shootings in the school environment rarely happen on impulse. They are often premeditated and pre-planned. The killers usually take their time not only to figure out how to beat the security checks at schools, but also to get ready before undertaking such a serious act (Muschert & Sumiala, 2012). While setting up intelligence at the school level is out of question, it is possible to raise the security level of each school to the level of airports and courtrooms. Metal detectors, multiple security checks, and more secure doors and windows should be installed in each learning institution. It may be expensive, but what is that cost compared to innocent lives and bright future?
Technology has taken center-stage in the lives of Americans and citizens of other countries around the globe. There is hardly a thing anyone can do without the handy application of technology anymore. The success of entire educational enterprise heavily depends on the use of technology in schools. Technology has served a variety of purposes in schools, bringing numerous benefits to teachers, students, and even administration. For students, technology helps them learn by improving attendance, decreasing dropout rate, improving problem-solving capabilities, interpersonal skills, self-directional skills, and communication and information skills (Jobe, 2012). On the teachers’ part, technology helps them constantly upgrade their knowledge to meet professional standards and improve their classroom practices. For administrators, technology is a tool that improves productivity, decision making, and improves both equity and access to education (Jobe, 2012).
While the positive impact of technology on education has been palpable, there is no doubt that technology has come with its fair share of challenges. Challenges relating to the use of technology in education are caused by the ever-changing technological landscape. While many schools can easily adapt to new technological advancements, many more schools have to play catch-up, and eventually fall behind, creating a digital divide between schools (Education Week, 2011). Moreover, the fast-paced improvement of technology makes it challenging to determine what works best. The challenge results from the fact that longitudinal research takes years to accomplish, and by the time the research findings are out, they may become irrelevant in the current technological landscape.
This fact has provoked the need for both researchers and educationists to come up with ways of improving technology-based education and cancelling out the negative influences of technology on the education system. There is a general perception that educators are not keeping up with changes in technology. This could be a result of the abovementioned problems. Some measures have been suggested as being effective in reducing the aloofness that many educators may have developed as far as technology in education systems is concerned. The suggested measures for educators are to: stay informed and keep themselves updated about new technological advancements relevant to education; work with IT savvy education enthusiasts; become users of social networking sites and get the feel of how these sites affect students; and be ready to embrace change when it comes (Ritter & Todd, 2008).
Psychology has become a hot issue brought up in the current educational debates. The role that psychology plays in understanding behavioral patterns of students, delinquency, and response to corrective measures cannot be overstated. Psychologists have proved to be useful in educational settings to help deal with stubborn and disruptive students as well as help those students with different issues that can adversely affect their psychology cope with the situation. Psychology is a useful tool, and it is impossible to deny its importance.
Psychology has been handy in understanding how students think and learn. The field of educational psychology has been full with activity and controversy. One of the most important issues facing the field of education and psychology are the methods of investigation. In order for psychologists to come to conclusive decisions concerning what practices can be useful in the education sector, they have to gather evidence about different practices. Evidence gathering or investigation could either be experimental or non-experimental (Long et al., 2010).
Outcomes of experimental investigation are presumed to closely resemble real life experiences of children. This is a single most helpful aspect of experimental investigation. Additionally, there are motivational effects that attention from a researcher may bestow upon student performance (the Hawthorn effect) (Long et al., 2010).
While experimental investigation brings the obvious benefit of giving tested results, it comes with its disadvantages. Interfering with child’s education for experimental purposes, for instance, is an ethically questionable practice of educational psychology. An alternative for experimental investigation has proved to be quite useful. This is observational or non-experimental investigation. These alternatives are not only easy to carry out, but they also enable gathering of information about how things work in natural settings with little or no external influence. However, it is difficult to establish from an observational investigation perspective whether or not one variable causes a change in another. Nonetheless, observational investigation has been favored over experimental investigation in educational psychology.
Indeed, psychology plays an important role in education, but ethical issues have become ramified in how psychology asserts its influence on educational studies.
There are many emergent issues in the educational sector, and they all are associated with interesting controversies. Among the most important issues are issues related to discipline and security. Other issues include technology and psychology, among many others. An understanding of these issues from both sides of the debate will be an important asset in policy making in the education sector.