There has been, and continues to be, an active discussion among educators as to how we can reform education so that our students can better compete in their global world. I’d like to suggest we simply start where we feel the most empowered, in the classroom.
Yong Zhao, in Catching Up or Leading the Way discusses the ‘New Universal Knowledge and Skills’ being global competence and digital competence. I’d like to take each one of these and give teachers ideas on how to incorporate them directly into the everyday environment of the classroom.
Global Competence involves having skills, knowledge, and attitudes to interact with others from around the globe. This involves the ability to communicate, as well as the understanding of cultural differences and the ability to ‘interact peacefully, respectfully, and productively with fellow human beings from diverse geographies’ (Reimers, 2009)
Here are some ideas on how you can create a classroom that supports global competency:
- Create a classroom that is based on ‘us’, not ‘us’ and ‘them’. Your classroom climate is key to students accepting and respecting all individuals. Start in your classroom and model this respect, making it an expectation that as a community we respect others. Usually this respect starts with knowledge, knowledge of each others backgrounds, cultures, traditions, beliefs, and dreams. Yong Zhao says, “We need citizens who can lead global efforts to reduce distrust and fear among different people. To do so requires a new mindset, a mindset that considers all human beings as “us,”…” (p. 173 Catching up or Leading the Way). If we start locally in our classroom, school buildings, districts, then we can expand out to the world.
- Show students how interconnected our world is both economically and socially. This can be accomplished through looking at supply and demand of various goods and natural resources. For example, the amount of oil available does affect life around the globe. Socially, natural resource depletion and wars result in refugees and immigration that does touch all of us. Obviously these shouldn’t be isolated lessons but should be incorporated into existing curriculum content and skills. I challenge every teacher to look at their curriculum and simply make it common practice to incorporate global issues and discussions throughout their content.
- Connect to classrooms around the globe to help your students understand different cultures, how their communities deal with social issues, their thoughts, hopes and dreams. There are many tools to accomplish this, skyping, blogging, or ePals just to mention a few. Tear down your classroom walls and expose your students to other students from around the world. This may also involve an immersion into another language, as well as exposure to translation tools for your students. Some tools, such as ePals email have these translation tools built right in.
- Participate in collaborative global projects. Again, this would be connected to your existing curriculum. There are many existing projects out there and many resources to help you connect with others. Check out this great wiki on Connecting Classrooms: Managing Global Collaborative Projects for many resources on setting up and connecting with classrooms around the world. Also check out iEARN.
- Take the time to analyze perspectives. Students often will make judgments without looking at all the ‘sides of an issue’. When having discussions encourage students to look at the situation from another person’s perspective. This models the need to be open-minded and being globally competent includes an understanding and open-mindedness to other ideas and beliefs.
More articles on Global Competence:
- Leading for Global Competence, Educational Leadership September 2009, vol 67, n1
- Educating for Global Competency
- Global Competency: The Knowledge and Skills our Students Need by Anthony Jackson Dec 2009
- Global Competency by Jed Willard
Also check out my post on Digital Competency, the follow-up to this post.