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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Turning Students Into Global Citizens | Education Week

Photo: Fernando Reimers
CreateSpace Independent 
Publishing, 2016
Fernando M. Reimers, professor of international education and the director of the Global Education Innovation Initiative and the International Education Policy Program at Harvard University. He is the co-author of Empowering Global Citizens: A World Course summarizes, "We are living in a world that is increasingly interdependent. Local and global affairs are deeply intertwined, and technology has transformed the ways in which most people interact, access knowledge, work, and participate civically."

These changes are part of our ever-increasing globalization—a process that is shrinking our planet and bringing us all into more intense contact with one another, often across lines of social, cultural, and racial differences. Preparing students to live and work in an integrated world and contribute to improving society fulfills public schools' intended purpose.

But many schools fail to provide students with such opportunities at a moment in history when the need has never been greater. Ethnic and religious differences continue to be a source of conflict rather than the basis of productive and creative collaboration. These differences are exacerbated by politicians who capitalize on fear, creating walls that marginalize many groups and contribute to further alienation. Rhetoric in the U.S. presidential race and in the United Kingdom's Brexit vote echo these themes of unease.

Photo: Getty

Recent tragedies in cities around the world underscore a widespread attitude of bigotry and prejudice. Recent headlines recount a succession of deaths resulting from this attitude, including in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Orlando, and St. Paul in our own country, as well as in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Germany, Iraq, and Turkey.

This educational failure highlights the paradox that even though children across the world have greater access to education than they've had at any time in the past century, and globalization is bringing humanity closer together, we have also been pushed further apart. To help students respond to this crisis in a constructive way—rather than with fear—schools must take responsibility for effective and more deliberate global-citizenship education. Advancing such education requires a well-designed curriculum and built-in support for educators to develop global competency themselves. This effort should embrace professional-development opportunities, along with the guidance of strong school and district leadership.

Source: Education Week

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