It is important to maintain a constant vigil on the available resources and developments being carried out globally in the educational field. Unfortunately, educational reforms are generally restricted to the theoretical aspects. No concrete efforts are made in implementing such proposed reforms. This irresponsible behavior of the implementing authorities leads to funding depletion and misuse of human resources.
Parents endeavor to impart the best education to their children. Better education enhances the knowledge and learning capabilities of children and they can pursue the field of their interest. “Without a strong education system, job creation and economic development cannot be sustained” (Heckenlooper, 2010, p. 1). Heckenlooper’s priority is to create such an academic system in Colorado that can lead the state to great achievements.
What does change in education mean? It means adopting innovations in the procedures being followed to impart education. The eventual objective of such changes is to improve the performance. Nevertheless, due to a variety of change options, the changing process becomes very complicated. Additionally, the various suggested strategies also differ in nature. Such characteristics make the accomplishment rate of implementation inconsistent (Credaro, 2006).
Credaro (2006) further suggests that “Factors that drive change may be internal or external to the environment” (p. 1). Such factors necessitate the changes that can be incorporated at any stage. Due to the incessant global developments in the field of education, it has become crucial for educational institutions to adopt changes and be able to sustain the competition. Concerning the educational practices, this means to keep up-to-date information of global educational researches and at the same time follow the domestic drift.
It should be understood that curriculum change in schools results in a lot of pressure on the management as well as the students. Credaro (2006) notes that “Alterations in staff-student relationships from teacher-centered to student-centered create the need for modification of teaching practices, and policies and procedures to support more meaningful educational experiences” (p. 1).
Various countries have acknowledged that their educational system should be able to sustain the global competition. But again, despite such acknowledgments, not much improvement has been initiated at any stage. This lack of improvement can be attributed to various factors. Most importantly, not having a proper vision has hindered the progress. Other factors include scarcity of funds and suitable policies (Challenges and barriers to ESD, n.d., para. 1). The article ‘Challenges and barriers to ESD’ underlines twelve points that have hindered the progress of education for sustainable development (ESD).
Spreading awareness among the people about the importance of refreshing their educational beliefs is very important. If the educational beliefs are changed and are at par with the changing global trends, sustainability can be attained. Even the people holding government portfolios (in the education department) should be aware of the importance of education to attain sustainability. “When people realize that education can improve the likelihood of implementing national policies, regional land, and resource management programs, and local programs, then education is in a position to be reoriented to help achieve sustainability” (Challenges and barriers to ESD, n.d., para. 2).
ESD strategy needs to be formulated with great care. It depends on the educational institutions either to opt for teaching ‘sustainable development’ or change their practices to follow the guidelines of ‘sustainable development. The reality brings forth various aspects of ‘sustainable development’ being followed by various educational institutions. Some educational institutions ignore the importance of education for sustainable development while some address the issue to some extent. But such bleak endeavors cannot foster any changes in the overall system. Further, some educational institutions prefer creating a separate class for education for sustainable development. Some educational institutions prefer redesigning their curriculum to address the issue of sustainable development.
There have been global debates on the importance of molding educational policies according to the requirements of society. The prevailing global acceptance to administer changes in the educational policies can be supportive to the implementation of education for sustainable development. It is advisable to associate education for sustainable development to the main concerns of educational reforms so that ESD has a bright future.
Achieving ‘sustainable development is not an easy task. Scholars and educationists the world over, have been involved in characterizing ‘sustainable development’ and finding ways to accomplish the required results. The difficulty doesn’t end here; it is equally difficult to educate. Moreover, redesigning the complete education system is all the more difficult.
Probably, one of the major hindrances in achieving sustainable development is the absence of related goals. Even though various stakeholders such as governments, concerned departments, educational institutes, and teachers want to adopt the programs associated with education for sustainable development, there is a dearth of appropriate models to follow. In the absence of such models, the stakeholders are left with no choice other than to define their models. This is a very difficult task. Stakeholders from the society (such as parents) are invited to submit their suggestions based on their requirements. While making any suggestions, parents generally envision their children’s future; what they want to become in the future.
“ESD by nature is holistic and interdisciplinary and depends on concepts and analytical tools from a variety of disciplines. As a result, ESD is difficult to teach in traditional school settings where studies are divided and taught in the disciplinary framework” (Challenges and barriers to ESD, n.d., para. 23). Different nations have different educational policies. The curriculum in some nations has a detailed explanation of each discipline to be taught. In such nations, the implementation of ESD can be a difficult task. On the other hand, there are nations where the curriculum is not rigid. In such nations, education for sustainable development can be easily implemented.
Participation of various government ministries is essential for having a triumphant education policy. All such ministries have a role to play in the policy formulation process; they can give their valuable inputs. Having the required financial resources is yet another important factor for the successful implementation of education for sustainable development. Financial aids help educational institutions to achieve their goals of sustainable development with ease. Like for instance, “Awarded a special $718,000 innovation grant from Ohio’s Race to the Top (RTTT) grant, Springfield is developing a family academy that will provide learning opportunities for students and parents, as well as meals, childcare, and transportation on weekday evenings” (Ewart, 2011, p. 1).
Availability of the required material resources is also of great importance. But unfortunately, this is not the scene at most educational institutions. Like for example, “Although there has been a strong push to get educational technology into the hands of teachers and students, many obstacles to implementation still exist” (Gahala, 2001, p. 1). The required equipment is generally kept away from the base where education is being imparted.
It has been observed that most teachers don’t have the required knowledge and skills to deal with the new technology. Due to lack of time, they are not able to acquire the requisite training. These hindrances can be easily tackled. As is understood, teachers and students must be able to use the provided equipment. Like for example, in their search for information, students and teachers need computers with internet connection. If the same is provided at a suitable location, it will be easy for the teachers and students to gather the required information. This will even save them valuable time.
Being economically weak creates great barriers for parents to provide an appropriate education for their children. There are certain areas that have an impact of poverty such as, “a lack of affordable child care and early education opportunities, mismatches between hours of employment and hours of child care, transportation limitations, and a shortage of high-quality programs for young children in low-income communities” (Matthews & Jang, 2007, p. 1).
Lacking fluency in some particular language can also act as a barrier to attaining the required education. In order to overcome such drawbacks among students and to help the students, governments undertake special programs like the English Language Learners program. “English Language Learners (ELLs) account for more than 10% of the student population today in the United States and the last decade have become increasingly isolated from the English proficient students, whom they remain behind on standard measures of achievement” (Arias & Welner, n.d., para. 3).
The United States government has initiated to set a standard for education in the country. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is one such attempt to achieve the desired results.
The mission statement of Common Core State Standard Initiative (2012) suggests that:
The common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy. (p. 1)
The Common Core State Standard Initiative promotes the necessity of information (for parents, students, and teachers) about the standards. Educators, parents, and neighborhood guides have all made a case to assist in the formation of the Common Core State Standards. The benchmarks suggest what is usually anticipated from students at each review level. This will permit the instructors to be better outfitted to know precisely what they have to do to help students acquire and build standards tailored for them. The Common Core State Standards concentrate on the main understandings and methodology beginning at the initial levels, hence empowering instructors to move along at a comfortable pace required to show the main ideas and methods in a better way – and to give scholars the chance to acquire perfection.
The students, parents, and teachers, being on the identical platform and having similar aims, it can be guaranteed that the students perform well and graduate with confidence and face the outside world with enthusiasm.
Gifted and talented education varies widely by state. Laws for gifted and talented education are unregulated by the federal government. Although the national government provides limited funding for gifted and talented education through the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Student Education Act, most laws regarding gifted education originate at the state level. State gifted laws fluctuate from no mention of gifted education in New Hampshire, for example, to laws similar in strength to the federal special education laws for disabled children in eight states: “Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia,” (Zirkel, 2005, p. 230).
The remaining 50 states have moderate laws, with state and local level laws that mention group-based gifted education (Zirkel, 2005). Even with moderate laws, only 26 states mandate specific programs for students who are gifted. The Davidson Institute reported that of these 26 states, only 18 require teachers to receive training to work with the gifted population. A study conducted by Copenhaver and McIntyre (as cited by Besnoy, 2005) included a survey of regular education teachers to determine their knowledge of gifted education pedagogy. Of these 85 teachers, 63 did not have experience teaching gifted students. Thirty-eight of the 63 teachers had no education in appropriate gifted student strategies (Besnoy, 2005). The lack of specialized training has not improved since the National Excellent Report asked for an increase in training for teachers of the gifted. At the time, only 39% of public school teachers had gifted training.
Lack of training and professional development is a problem nationwide. According to the National Association of Gifted Children, many teachers of the gifted are not adequately trained, which affects student learning (NAGC, 2008). The NAGC suggested that educators of the gifted must understand the social, emotional, and cognitive needs of gifted students and must have access to advanced ideas and content for facilitating gifted student learning.
The endeavors towards achieving sustainable development must be supported by local groups. Organizations have a moral responsibility towards society. The Ohio Gifted Task Force suggests that “Policies at both state and local levels should promote educational opportunities for gifted children. Many local boards of education policies present barriers to best practices in the education of gifted children” (Ohio Gifted Task Force, 2002, p. 1). Governments must formulate policies that are conducive to the requirements and learning capabilities of students.
Mensa (2013), an organization engaged in the upliftment of students claims that:
To serve Young Mensans and their families, Mensa has a full-time Gifted Youth Specialist who supports Young Mensan services and resources. Additionally, Local Groups have Gifted Youth Coordinators who serve as resource guides and also often plan activities specifically for young Mensans. (p. 1)
Another organization named Michigan Alliance for Gifted Education is also engaged in improving the education standards.
Michigan Alliance for Gifted Education’s mission statement states that “The Michigan Alliance for Gifted Education (The Alliance) is dedicated to providing leadership, advocacy, and support of differentiated education and services for meeting the unique needs of gifted, talented, and creative students in Michigan” (Michigan Alliance for Gifted Education, 2008, p. 6).
Following is a protocol for inflicting changes upon the public schools that would (could) overcome inertia and sustain change:
|Educational institutions|| |
Arias, M. B., & Welner, K. (n.d.). Parental involvement can and should cross language barriers.
Besnoy, K. (2005). Using public relation strategies to advocate for gifted programming in your school. Gifted Child Today, 28 (1), 32-65.
Challenges and barriers to ESD. (n.d.).
Credaro, A. (2006). Innovation and change in education. Web.
Ewart, J. (2011). Springfield, Ohio: ‘We don’t let barriers get in the way’. Web.
Gahala, J. (2001). Critical issue: Promoting technology use in schools.
Heckenlooper. (2010). Education. Web.
Common Core State Standard Initiative. (2012). Implementing the common core state standards. Web.
Matthews, H., & Jang, D. (2007). The challenges of change.
Mensa. (2013). Mensa reaches out to gifted youth.
Michigan Alliance for Gifted Education. (2008). Affiliate handbook.
NAGC. (2008). NAGC position statements: Competencies needed by teachers. Web.
Ohio Gifted Task Force. (2002). Gifted in the 21st century. Web.
Zirkel, P. A. (2005). State laws for gifted education: An overview of legislation and regulation. Roeper Review, 27 (4), 228-232.