My school has begun some really interesting global initiatives involving partnering with school in such places as Mexico, India, China, etc. The past few days, I've begun to hear that we're spending too much time on all this "globalization stuff". Some are concerned that we're losing touch with our "European focus" while others are expressing their worry that this is all a "passing fad".
I have no doubts that we're heading in the right direction. I also think we've been good at seeking faculty input and providing lots of interesting opportunities for them to explore.
Has anyone else encountered these sorts of arguments? How did you respond? I'm not really asking about good comebacks, but more looking toward bringing the faculty along on this topic.
Hi David. Thankfully, I have not encountered the same type of resistance, but I clearly understand why they think that! If you and your administration have laid the groundwork by having the faculty read books like A Whole New Mind, The World Is Flat, and attending educational conferences, there is no way that they can deny that education is moving in this direction. However, they may have a sort of point with this being a "fad." Yeah, it might be. The real question is, SHOULD it be? The question that should guide those discussions at your school, at my school, is "what is best for for the students?" Regardless of how popular or unpopular global initiatives are, are they what will help our students be the most successful at this moment in time. Because we can only teach for this moment, not knowing what will be best in the next moment. Ok, was that too esoteric?
Hi David - While on the one hand it's too bad that your global education initiatives are being met with resistance, perhaps the silver lining is the opportunity to engage your community in a real conversation about change. I'm actually far more concerned when teachers and schools \wholeheartedly accept The World is Flat and other "fads" without thinking critically about them (one of the core skills of global citizenship, I believe) as well as treating global ed like it's a finite thing to be checked off on a list, when in fact it requires some real shifts in teaching and learning in order to be implemented holistically and successfully.
It might also be worth offering them some historical perspective - global education isn't nearly as new as many people think it is. iEARN has been facilitating online global collaborative projects for twenty years. But global education's roots are much older than the Internet - there was a strong movement that responded to the horrors of World Wars I and II by creating educational programs to foster better cross-cultural understanding. And, as fields of study, comparative and international education are well over one hundred years old.
Hopefully that perspective can help to situate global education as an idea whose time has FINALLY come, with useful support from the trends that Alecia described, as opposed to being a passing trend in and of itself.
Thanks for the comments. I don't want to give the impression that our faculty is universally opposed to these things. The dissenting voices are a minority -- a vocal minority -- but a minority nonetheless.
Part of the problem here is that our school went through a global initiative around ten years ago. I wasn't at my current school then, but from everything I've heard, it was indeed a fad that didn't go anywhere. This time, we're doing lots of concrete things and are especially concerned with making this effort sustainable. When I step back and observe this thing objectively, it's really quite interesting.
I don't think global education is at all a passing fad, unless you don't consider Odysseus, Gilgamesh, Marco Polo, the Crusades, Lewis and Clark, space exploration and all of its spin offs, all of the world's pilgrimage culture and literature, etc. to also be a passing fad. Education is always dependent on context. How could you seriously teach non-globally?
I have the great luxury of teaching in a large U.S. urban public school in a part of town that has been a locus of immigration to North America from other places since the ice melted (and, yes, the ice does melt in Minnesota, usually by May or June, anyway.) If I simply help my students understand themselves and who they are and who their classmates are, I can't help but include the rest of planet earth in the conversation. Our school might have a little greater 'diversity' than some, but if you can connect to the internet, you must try to understand the globe. Teachers are map makers. Global education is merely an acknowledgement of a perspective - the map's level of detail and resolution changes.
Having just finished a class about race relations and being realistic about the diversity we now see in our classrooms, I wonder how we cannot bring globalization into our classrooms. I have found that things that we don't know much about make us fear them. This is what I believe I am hearing when people fear losing touch with our "European focus". Is there really such a thing? We are such a melting pot of immigrants and that is something that continues to this day. The more our children are exposed to the world around them, the more tolerant and appreciative, as well and willing to exchange ideas and learn as adults they will be. We all share one planet and together we all keep it spinning, safely and with the ability to support us all. Keep going... change is always hard.
You raise an interesting point about being realistic and the more I work in the areas of diversity and globalization, the more I agree. Our strategy has been to "build up choirs" of interested faculty rather than force initiatives by fiat. As such, we've been pretty successful and have managed to develop some pretty interesting programs.
I've found this method far more effective than waiting to get some sort of universal consensus to emerge. There are some drawbacks to this way, no doubt, but we've got some discernible movement rather than a lumbering and ineffectual universality (if that makes and sense).