Global education is a very broad term. Other terms that might come to mind our global citizenship, or global competency, even globalization. The definitions of these terms can be complex and in some cases confusing. But over the next year I will be studying all of the aspects of global education so that I can better teach my students and share with my school Community the advantages of preparing our students to be globally competent global citizens. One of my first assignment as a TGC Fellow question defined some of the most important terms used when we think of global education.
The term global citizenship implies that a person recognizes and possesses a responsibility as a citizen of the world, not just a citizen of their local, region or country. A global citizen embraces the uniquenesses of our world and claims citizenship with all the countries, cultures, economies and political situations there in. A global citizen takes action to make the world a better place, no matter where that place might be on our planet or what ideas, ideologies, cultures, religions or positions the people may hold. Global citizens are not restricted by boundaries or oceans. They are truly citizens of the world.
In contrast, global competence implies that a person not only has great knowledge of the world around them, but also possesses empathy, cultural understanding, the ability to explore many perspectives, and skills to live and work in a global society. Being globally competent suggests that the person is curious, inquisitive and non-judgmental about other cultures and their people, traditions, and aspects or challenges in this culturally diverse world.
I have tried to inspire an attitude of global competence and global citizenship with my students as I teach lessons in social justice and Catholic theology. But by the time I get students in the seventh grade, I would hope that they had already been introduced to these very important concepts. I have learned over the years, however, that is not the case. For the most part in our lower school grades students are given only a vague and simplistic view of the world. World geography is not taught until eighth grade and often incoming seventh graders have a little understanding of where we are situated on the planet, much less any understanding of other countries and cultures. I dive in with my social justice themes of the church and work tirelessly to teach as much as I possibly can about the world as a whole, focusing my lessons on human rights and social justice.
As students moved into the higher grades they are taught world geography, as I've mentioned, in eighth grade and, as a part of their world history curriculum in the upper school, they are introduced to other regions of the world through historical events and wars. Of course, we have world languages, such as French Spanish and Latin, but no other country or region-specific focuses.
A person with a cosmopolitan attitude believes and embraces the whole world as his or her home. Cosmopolitanism is derived from a world view and asserts the citizenship, cooperation and responsibility of every person in every country and culture.
Globalism, on the other hand, is an understanding of the connectedness and interconnectedness of all countries through their economics, business practices, politics, cultures and in other ways. Most commonly thought of through the lens of economy and business, globalism or globalization is demonstrated most succinctly by companies using workers and factories and other components from various countries and cultures to create products, then to package, distribute, ship and sell those products globally.
Globalization and cosmopolitanism are most likely foreign terms two students attending my school. In upper school economics classes they might touch on globalism but an in-depth study of the concept of these two would be an anomaly.
My school is very service driven. Students are encouraged from the minute they land in our early childhood center to look outside of themselves and serve others, helping the less fortunate an opening themselves up to the needs and challenges of others. It Is a personal calling that we should all take seriously and to heart. Service, I believe is a first step in the education of children and adults to help them recognize the world around them and develop empathy. When I consider the two competencies that I believe are the most important, I must focus first on the ability to see more than one perspective. If an individual can step outside of himself with empathy and understanding and see from the perspective of someone else, true positive change can take place. Secondly the ability to communicate effectively no matter where you are it is essential. Communication is the bridge that helps humans come together on one playing field and be able to work together with understanding and knowledge.
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