What is Global Education?

Starbucks has hit Beijing hard.

What is Global Education? 

Global Education is a new field for a new millennium. We live in a changing world where people are more “connected” than ever before.  Even if you don’t acknowledge it, we are connected through the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the people with whom we interact every day, both in person and online.  Schools need to change to meet needs of our modern world.

Why globalize? Why now?

Our world is changing faster than ever before. The rate of change is beyond anything seen before. What are you doing to prepare your students to address problems that we don’t even know exist yet? This amazing 2 minute film demonstrates how vital it is for teachers to rethink their role:

Telefonplan School, in Stockholm, designed by Architect Rosan Bosch

Are schools keeping up?

The short answer is no.   Unfortunately, in many ways schools look the same as they always have.  There are some rare exceptions. In Sweden, some educators are eliminating classrooms entirely, opting instead for collaborative, creative work spaces.  However, the vast majority of schools are still asking students to sit in desks and write essays.  Educators are beginning to explore what schools can do to better meet the needs to today’s learners.

What are we preparing our students for?

Tony Wagner describes it all too clearly: “Even our “best” schools are failing to prepare students for 21st-century careers and citizenship. In the new global economy, with many jobs being either automated or “off-shored,” what skills will students need to build successful careers? What skills will they need to be good citizens? Are these two education goals in conflict? To examine these questions, I conducted research beginning with conversations with several hundred business, nonprofit, philanthropic, and education leaders.”

Wagner goes on to describe interviews with employers across the U.S. who consistently name unusual criteria for success.  They are looking for social and emotional skills, and not content knowledge.  Specifically, employers value these seven survival skills:

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  2. Collaboration and Leadership
  3. Agility and Adaptability
  4. Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  5. Effective Oral and Written Communication
  6. Accessing and Analyzing Information
  7. Curiosity and Imagination

Thus, Wagner argues that if schools prepare students to be good citizens with strong social and emotional skills, they will also build successful careers. David Orr might focus on a different outcome, but appears to have a similar perspective about necessary skills to teach. He wrote, “The plain fact is that the world does not need more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”

What do students need to know to be globally competent?

Many others have worked on defining global competencies, or knowledge and skills that students need to know to be successful in the 21st century.

  1. Knowledge and Understanding
  2. Skills
  3. Values and Attitudes

Diagram from Oxfam’s Education for Global Citizenship Guide for Schools

  1. Core subjects and 21st century themes
  2. Life and career skills,
  3. Learning and innovation skills
  4. Information, media, and technology skills.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills Framework

  1. Analytical and Creative Thinking and Problem-solving
  2. Complex Communication—Oral and Written
  3. Leadership and Teamwork
  4. Digital and Quantitative Literacy
  5. Global Perspectives
  6. Adaptability, Initiative, and Risk-Taking
  7. Integrity and Ethical Decision-Making
  • At Innovation Academy Charter School, our 21st century skills study group worked to define global competencies in accordance with our school’s mission statement and four social outcomes.  This document outlines how we see global competencies fitting into our school’s focus on community membership, problem solving, effective communication, and self-direction, as well as our motto: Think, Connect, Apply.

Each of these models is valuable in a different way, but you’ll notice that all of them share some common features. Global citizens must have strong social and emotional skills, and they must know about other cultures and perspectives.

How can I assess my own classroom or school to see if I’m “globalized?”

We all want to teach students to be the kind of creative leader that our world needs.  Here are some tools to help you assess your own classroom and/or school to see if you are teaching global competencies (and become more aware of how to add them in):

  • Assessment #1 ~ Oxfam’s Guide to Global Citizenship: This guide for schools includes a detailed rubric to evaluate various aspects of global citizenship.  They detail what each attribute would look like at various developmental ages, from pre-school to age 19.
  • Assessment #2 ~ Global Awareness Rubric: The Metiri Group in cooperation with NCREL has developed a rubric that focuses on global awareness. It will help you determine if students have global awareness that is novice, basic, proficient, or advanced level.
  • Assessment #3~ Global Education Checklist: Fred Czarra developed this useful tool, which has sections for teachers to assess their own students, as well as for members of a school community to assess various aspects of the school, from the library to the school’s exchange programs.
  • Assessment #4~Quality Online Teaching Standards: The International Association for K-12 Online Learning / iNACOL created the National Standards for Quality Online Teaching as a tool to help a school to assess its use of technology within the education of its students.

Where can I keep learning about global education?

There are many other resources to learn about global education. Visit the Innovation on Earth library to read more and watch videos about global education. If you have an idea for a resource to add to the list, please email innovationonearth@gmail.com.

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