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Global Awareness Going On…

If you are NOT teaching or attending an international school, nor live in a metropolitan city, raising global awareness among your students does not happen by osmosis.

As a teacher, you have to work hard to expose your students to multiple languages, cultures, geography, different customs and traditions.

Global Awareness, according to The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, includes:

  • Using 21st century skills to understand and address global issues
  • Learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work and community contexts
  • Understanding  other nations and cultures, including the use of non-English languages

According to the National Geographic Roper Public Affairs Report 2006- Geographic Literacy Study  (pdf),

Young Americans appear to stick close to home, reporting limited contact with other
cultures outside the U.S.

  • Three-quarters (74%) have traveled to another state in the past year, but seven in ten (70%) have not traveled abroad at all in the past three years.
  • Six in ten (62%) cannot speak a second language “fluently.”
  • Nine in ten (89%) do not correspond regularly with anyone outside the U.S.
  • Only two in ten (22%) have a passport.

Raising global awareness and making global connections for teachers and students has been one of my goals this year. Although isolated, one time connections are better than none. I am witnessing a transformation in students and teachers who are regularly participating in global connections.

Let me give you an example:

Third graders have had opportunities to connect live via Skype to Italy, Israel, New Zealand, Finland, Canada and various states within the USA this year.

Alison Quinn, the teacher from Finland, wrote a reflective blog post about our connection:

They asked and answered great questions that highlighted both the differences (geographically and culturally) and similarities – this was so key. The similarities now seem insignificant – two kids on opposite sides of the ocean have art as their favourite subject – both groups of kids like pizza, the same TV shows – and the same Hannah Montana song. But these seemingly insignificant shared pieces of pop culture astounded and united the kids who were oceans away from each other.

I am in complete agreement with Alison. Although seemingly insignificant, these kinds of interactions contribute to a connected feeling, they contribute to a global awareness, that otherwise would not exist.

Seeing students being aware of a bigger world than their own backyard is a first step towards global education. Hearing students use names of far away countries, talk about different languages, cultures and traditions as if they were frequent travelers and jet-setters is a step in the right direction. Making connections with students from around the world is becoming “just the way it is”… normal… part of their lives in the 21st Century.

Take a moment to watch and listen to the third graders (from the US) talk about what had surprised them when skyping with third graders from Helsinki, Finland.

Around the World With 80 Schools- Helsinki from langwitches on Vimeo.

Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Alison Quinn says:

    Very well said, Silvia.

  2. Truly a great analysis. It’s funny, as I write this over an early afternoon coffee in Stockholm, I’ve just had a discussion about how education in Finland is so “highly evolved,” compared, some say, to education in Sweden.

    Yet, we all recognize that education in Sweden (or, pick any number of other nations and insert here) is much more evolved in some key ways, measures and (educators hate this next one) “deliverables” than the US.

    As you point out here, it’s about creating tangible connections – allowing learners (I include teachers, of course, as well as students) to feel a part of something broader, greater, less…I don’t know…”ephemeral,” than their own educational experience.

    Again, thanks, @langwitches – great piece.

    Aron Solomon
    CEO and Head of School
    THINK Global School

  3. [...] recommend a good look at Silvia’s post from May 4th, 2010 called Global Awareness Going on.  She does a great job bringing some alarming statistics to light.  Always a good read at [...]

  4. Rich Platts says:

    Hey Silvia –

    Nice post on Global Awareness — I shared a bit of my story about my own ‘global awareness’ background on my blog. There seems to be a big misunderstanding about what Global Awareness means — I recently heard a comment that “a child should be proud to be a citizen of the US and does not want to be a citizen of the world” — This comment misses the mark, global awareness education is not meant to be some sort of worship or valuing of other cultures over our own, but just the opposite — it is meant to inform our students about who they are, what their culture is, and how they fit into a global marketplace that they won’t be able to stick their heads in the sand to avoid forever.

    By the way – I LOVE the video with the kiddos talking about their experience with the Finnish school. I would love to get my school involved with a similar project next year.

    • Langwitches says:

      Rich,
      As a former world language teacher, I know exactly what you mean by fighting “stereotypes” that DO NOT want to see/learn about a global perspective.
      We just need to continue exposing our students every chance we get.

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