An educated mind requires intensive and continuous effort to develop, both on part of the individual and the society they live in, making education one of the most important issues of our times. Today’s students are tomorrow’s adults, as the saying goes, and having educated people around is never a disadvantage. Being a student is becoming ever more demanding these days, as the practice moved away from taking class notes during traditional lessons to engaging into multiple internships, conducting private research and attending subject-specific seminars. Although schools and classrooms still exist and offer programs, it has become apparent throughout the years that the new collective student and educator mindsets have both exceeded the limits of traditional approaches to education. As things are fast changing, understanding the core functions of education has become a dire necessity for all: functionality as the main approach, enlightenment as the ultimate goal and progress as the most desirable outcome.
One of the key issues that is under the scope of debate currently, both for the American society and the school campuses, is the issue of homosexuality. The LGBTQ community in America has been pushing for recognition of same-sex relationships as legitimate and legal options for sexual partnership while being beset by significant political, cultural and legal obstructions. Recently, the Azusa Pacific University has re-instated an anti-LGBTQ policy to ban queer relationships on campus, creating massive setbacks from the students. Being one of the oldest Christian universities in California, the school has never tolerated homosexuality as a viable third option for sexual partnership but last year, a pro-gay bill was accepted and put in action largely due to negotiations carried out by Haven, the school’s LGBTQ community and their sponsor, Brave Commons. Several gay students have voiced their concerns about getting legally rejected by the administration, while a protest also took place on campus with students signing up their names and signatures to boycott the administration’s step back. The administration holds its conventional view that only heterosexual relationships are approved by God, revealing the true mindset that influenced the decision of reversal.
Business has always been interested in education as a supporter of its motives and recently, Denisee Lee john of Forbes spoke with IBM’s Vice President, Carrie Alteiri about the company’s educational investments. At IBM, company workers are entitled to receive 60 hours of professional education every year with several employees increasing their hours by a significant amount, on their own will. The company spends more than half a billion on corporate education annually, turning education into a corporate culture. Altieri underlines the fact that IBM’s respect and dedication to education has a direct connection to the company’s respect for its clients, as most of the education is intended to target key issues that lead to lower performance. In the age of digital transformation, IBM intends on incorporating expertise with theory to be able to survive the backlashes of market volatility. Alteiri also points out that employment engagement rates are on the rise, meaning that IBM workers value ‘getting skilled up’ and they truly enjoy their times learning. The Vice President also mentions that in order to develop a culture of education, every business entity needs to make education a fun process, contemporary and available.
Nature knows no boundaries and schools frequently get cancelled or postponed due to natural occurrences such as snowstorms. Luckily, technology has come to the aid of students and educators who feel left behind due to such occurrences when the Pascack Valley Regional High School District in New Jersey readied its students, parents and educators for an upcoming snowstorm to attend online classes. The school provided laptops were equipped with the necessary software and all that the students had to do was to log in to a platform and attend the ‘virtual class’. The teachers also could give students homework and even breaks to go out and “shovel the walkways”. Although the New Jersey Department of Education is still not decided whether if the classes should count towards the annual class hour total, the school’s superintendent Erik Gunderson believes that they attained the success they were rooting for. Similarly, Coyle and Cassidy High School in Taunton, Massachusetts also carried out virtual classes this year following the large numbers of class cancelations due to bad weather. This time, the school’s 500+ students used their own iPads to access the online classroom while the school’s teachers were delighted to be able to record their classes and share them with others.
Controversy exists in every field of life and education is no different. Recently, a Norwegian mass-murderer, Anders Behring Breivik, applied to the University of Oslo to receive his political science degree, which has raised significant controversy among the public due the person’s troubled history, extreme ideas and psychopathic actions. Among the people Breivik killed in his bomb attack in 2011 were some students at the University of Oslo as well as friends of some students and therefore the student body directly opposed his admission to the school. Breivik has also publically targeted some university professors at the institution, which added fuel to the controversy. However, the school administration agreed to let Breivik study at their school, providing the necessary materials of study to his prison cell through security guards, with no contact with other students, academics and no internet access. The university administration believes that the permission was granted “for our [their] own sake, not his,” maintaining the view that Breivik’s actions were inappropriate and unacceptable. Norway has an inclusive social conduct and services policy, which has enabled the University of Oslo to allow all types of students into its student body in the past, so Breivik’s case was not an exception. Additionally, the university administration believes in second chances and that it would be better to keep Breivik as an educated man, rather than an uneducated one for the sake of the Norwegian society.
Education is an ongoing process and recent studies have proven repeatedly that an individual’s upbringing has a direct connection to their success in learning. Naturally, the first period to consider when speaking of such an upbringing is infancy as babies have high capabilities to learn and apply before being subjected to the conditions of life. Elissa Nadworny of National Public Radio has come up with a list of things to do for enhancing infants’ capabilities to learn at an early age, which begins by the necessity to maximize love and manage stress. Under positive conditions, infants do not shy away from paying attention to their surroundings, which increases their cognitive abilities. Similarly, talking, singing and pointing during interactions is important because such behavior gives cues to the baby regarding where to look and what to focus on. Counting, grouping and comparing are also quite helpful in the pursuit of increasing the limits of learning for such children, as categorical identities are quite useful to label and memorize things. Exploring through movement and play is also a wise thing to do because children learn the best when they are playing. Finally, Nadworny points out the importance of reading and discussing stories because comprehending literature increases vocabulary and creates connections in the child’s brain with words, objects, people and scenarios.