It goes without saying that our world is becoming increasingly globalized. Economic, social, and cultural connections between countries are becoming stronger and the world is becoming more and more interdependent. People are now constantly moving across different boundaries, traveling to different countries for a variety of reasons.
As the world is becoming one big “global village”, the importance of teaching global values to students and having a global perspective in education has never been greater. Young learners and students must develop global competencies which include the attitudes, knowledge, and skills to work in today’s interdependent world and strive for a sustainable, peaceful, and inclusive world.
According to Ariel Tichnor-Wagner, an educator and researcher, teaching global perspectives has a variety of immediate benefits for students, including:
1. Improved student engagement.
When students learn through authentic tasks and content they are far more likely to engage in-class activities. This perspective of education, in turn, leads to higher attendance and academic achievements. For example, imagine what will happen if we set up a class where students interact with peers from Mexico via Skype or Zoom? They will be enticed to learn Spanish!
2. Higher chances of getting a job.
The world economy is becoming increasingly globalized. In the US alone over 40 million jobs are linked to international trade so it stands to reason that employers are desperately seeking graduates with cross-cultural skills, which can enable them to work with teams and clients all over the world.
3. Higher emotional intelligence and better communication skills.
Learning about global perspectives benefits students not only because it helps them find a better job, but also because it helps them develop self-awareness of their own identity, culture, beliefs, and how they connect to the rest of the world. This awareness will help them acquire relationship`—building skills, which are so important for communication and collaboration. Student empowerment is increased as global learning helps them to improve their own lives and make a positive contribution to the lives of others. Ariel Tichnor-Wagner explains that: “When students are provided opportunities to investigate issues they deem important (be it gun violence, access to clean water, or human rights violations), unpack why these issues exist, and come up with solutions to make them better, they become empowered to be the catalysts of the changes they wish to see”.
So, what is a “global perspective”? Generally speaking, the global perspective encompasses several aspects:
- global citizenship skills, which include openness, respect, appreciation for diversity and multiple perspectives, empathy, and social responsibility—the importance of good citizenship and diversity
- the ability to understand the politics of global citizenship such as global issues and current economic and political events; the effects of globalization on the world’s economy; world history, culture, and geography
- a set of skills, including the ability to communicate across various cultural and linguistic boundaries, the ability to speak more than one language
So how can educators incorporate global citizenship education and teach these competencies in the classroom? Well, there are many approaches that they can employ and steps they can take. The good news is that there is no need to introduce a separate course or unit of study solely devoted to the issue of global perspectives. Instead, teachers should strive to add “global content” in their subjects, a global perspective in education, regardless of their expertise. For example, art teachers can encourage their students to read texts and novels representative of diverse cultural perspectives, whose characters come from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Teachers should also strive to allow their students to authentically engage with global issues. For instance, as part of their classes teachers can set up Skype or Zoom exchanges with students from schools in other countries, encourage group and project work on the issues of global concern, making sure that these activities remain student-centered and inquiry-based.
Finally, teachers should allow their own global experiences and those of their students to be incorporated into their classroom via informal conversations and discussions of everyone’s global experiences.
Russ Gadzhiev is a facilitator at Shiminly. He has taught English and is proficient in Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese as well.