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What Is Global Education?

Schools are no longer skill-and-drill centers for reading and math. Classrooms are more diverse than ever, and children from all over the world are looking for a comprehensive, quality education. Professional development providers offer increasing numbers of seminars and conferences that address multicultural issues. As transportation and communication technology improves, the world seems to get smaller. Cultures and customs become more visible and less mysterious.

In order to keep up with these developments, many districts adopt diversity curricula to better equip teachers to teach global citizenship. At the same time, businesses are seeking well-qualified candidates who can interact with businesses and organizations all over the world.

Global Education and Society

The world demands that our schools focus on teaching global citizenship. As our classrooms become more diverse, it is critical that our students understand realities outside of their own communities. This is not just a national issue. The UN Secretary-General's Global Education First Initiative includes three international priorities:

  1. Every child in the world should be in school. "Education is the great driver of social, economic and political progress."
  2. Improve the quality of learning in every country. It should be a financial priority.
  3. Foster global citizenship. "Education must be transformative and bring shared values to life. It must cultivate an active care for the world and for those with whom we share it."

This demand for teaching global citizenship involves several elements. Many schools offer bilingual classrooms at all grade levels. Students and schools celebrate diverse cultures at culture or country fairs and exhibitions. Teachers and students form book clubs to explore world cultures, history and geography. Publishing companies include more stories and articles about people from all countries in every new edition of their textbooks.

In district character development programs, students learn more than anti-bullying strategies and solutions. They learn about developing a tolerance for difference. They learn about other societies and customs and how to be inclusive of all races and cultures.

Business

Writing for The Guardian, Jeremy Sutcliffe (a journalist who specializes in education and school leadership) says, "The vast majority of businesses believe schools should help young people to think more globally and four out of every five believe schools should be doing more." As the financial world expands and countries share information and product development, companies are looking for graduates who are ready to interact internationally. Sutcliffe reports that "when recruiting new staff, employers rate knowledge and awareness of the wider world as more important than a candidate's degree classification."

Given that global thinking is important to staying competitive, companies are looking for talents that go beyond those required to build creative, inclusive and well-informed teams of employees. Teaching global citizenship is more than a social bonus in the classroom. Students who can independently make adjustments to their work product and work relationships will be more effective members of worldwide development teams in cutting-edge companies.

The world gets smaller every day. As students move from elementary to middle to high school, they have almost unlimited opportunities to explore other cultures -- opportunities that did not exist 30 years ago. Schools remain a common denominator for access to this information, both in print and online. The Global Education First Initiative maintains that schools have a responsibility to give students the best resources to explore and go global: "Education must fully assume its central role in helping people to forge more just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies."

Learn more about UTA's online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies program.


Sources:

Education Week: What Do We Mean When We Talk About Global Education?

UNESCO: Priorities

Global Education: What Is Global Education?

The Guardian: Why Global Awareness Matters to Schools


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