Category Archives: Global Education

Tips for Raising a Global Citizen

Global Citizen GlobeIvy Prep’s last post described the perspective of Harvard Education Professor Fernando Reimers, who develops global education curricula that focus on a child’s knowledge of the world, the skills they need to become a global citizen, and the effect they can have on the world if they are educated as global citizens.

As the world becomes more interconnected and interdependent, it’s important for educators and parents to impart to children as much global awareness and education as possible. Knowledge, skill, and effectiveness about the world are now as important as being able to read, write, and do arithmetic. Professor Reimers and other educators stress the role teachers and parents can play in guiding children to process an array of information so that they can evaluate and appreciate others while also forming their own world views.

IT ALL STARTS IN PRE-SCHOOL 

Acquiring global knowledge is a developmental process that starts in pre-school. Parents are the best and obvious role models and guides for their children because they know them best and are most attuned to their intellectual and emotional growth.

Nancy Schulman (Head of Early Learning Center at Avenues) and Ellen Birnbaum (Director, 92nd St. Y Nursery School) co-authored Practical Wisdom for Parents, in which their chapter “Developing Morals and Ethics in Children reminds us of the ancient saying carpe diem: “When you see an opportunity to teach good behavior, you should ‘catch’ your child in the moment. Don’t wait until later.”

Schulman & Birnbaum suggest acknowledging and reinforcing your child’s behavior when he or she does something good, but also holding him/her accountable in a loving way during less pleasant moments on their part. Such teachable moments leads children to establish a code of ethics they can use over time to frame the knowledge Reimers speaks of, and that is taught in a theoretical way at school.

Taking advantage of teachable moments also enhances children’s ever-developing nervous systems–thinking critically so that they can extrapolate from their personal experiences (e.g., moments on the playground) to more abstract ideas (e.g., news about wars, conflicts, resolutions, etc.). Being globally minded and aware enhances a child’s cognitive development and gives that child a chance to think for themselves, an important skill to hone as we navigate through our own lives.

Small learning moments add up and help children evaluate larger-scale issues, in response to which they might contact local, national, or international agencies to let their voices be heard. Assistant Director of Queens Paideia School Karyn Slutsky says cultivating global awareness is “a multifaceted approach … that seeds our students to notice and consider more of what is around them, on the local level and more expansively, and also what is inside them.”

I often talk with parents about the importance of letting children form their own opinions while also providing knowledge and modeling behavior that Reimers, Slutsky, Schulman, and Birnbaum describe so well. Setting examples through our own actions (I am a mother as well) and being open to learning about others, while staying true to your own moral compass, are seeds parents can plant to help their child become a world citizen.

TEACHABLE MOMENTS AROUND EVERY CORNER

Global Citizen FlagsLet’s consider how we can seize the day in assisting our children in comprehending what’s happening around them and in the world. The objective here is to educate our children about current events and model respectful modes of evaluating and communicating our values to others. Through these,  we can guide our children in developing critical thinking skills and behaviors that enable them to have and act on a broader perspective.

Where I live in New York there is a teachable moment around every corner. You can take your daughter to a peaceful rally at the UN to support a cause in which you believe. After all, as Reimers notes, Martin Luther King was greatly influenced by the nonviolent and practical ways Mahatma Ghandi used to advance his cause.

Communicating your beliefs in a community of others can take place in front of the UN or by writing a letter to your congress(wo)man about a cause that resonates with you and your child. It also gives your child a peek into the democratic process and a sense of control at a time when the news and images of conflict can be overwhelming and disturbing.

Similarly, learning a foreign language can help your child better relate to and communicate with others. You could supplement language learning by watching a foreign film together. Take the classic Red Balloon: What is your child’s reaction to Lamorisse’s depiction of Pascal and his red balloon? What does your child think about the solace Pascal finds in his balloon and the hurt he feels at his peers’ cruelty? What does the film suggest about frailty and strength? What might your child advise Pascal to do in this situation? How do you stand up for yourself or others in an effective but nonviolent way? What messages in this 1950s film, spoken or implied, still hold today and are universal?

Other fun teachable moments are just a few subway stops away. Head downtown to Little Italy or Chinatown, or to Queens via the #7, to see how the people who live there respond to your attempts at using their language. Your kids will see how other fellow New Yorkers speak about things and make sense of the world. What is the tone of voice and body language that children and parents in different communities use? How do they convey their messages to one another?

Exposing children to foreign lands and new, different perspectives augments their intelligence and empathy skills. After all, we are not just educating them for the sake of acquiring knowledge but so that they can do something with that knowledge to make the world a better place.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

Raising Your Child to Be a Citizen of the World

How can we educate our children to be citizens of the world? This question is one that parents and educators are considering, particularly this summer amid such tumultuous times in our country and the world-at-large.

Every day we and our children have real-time opportunities to share our thinking while engaging with one another — whether it’s how to welcome new neighbors on the block, explain our attitudes toward immigration policies debated in Congress, or provide background and context to our children as a 24/7 news cycle presents nonstop updates and images of global conflicts.

Global Citizen ReCropped Image

Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Professor Fernando Reimers recently spoke about global education to HGSE alumni in New York. Reimers, who is also director of the International Education Policy Program at HGSE, knows about the nuts and bolts of educating kids. He is a parent and a professor; he also developed the World Course (global studies) curriculum for the Avenues School, a private school in New York City devoted to making its students global-minded citizens of the world.

Because we live in such an interdependent and connected world, global curricula are now being designed and evaluated to ensure that they are relevant. This is a welcome development because our children need knowledge and flexible, adaptive tools to become successful in an interconnected society. Since learning happens through both formal pedagogy and outside of the classroom, parents and teachers alike can foster global awareness in meaningful ways.

A GLOBAL EDUCATION CURRICULUM – BRIDGING THEORY AND PRACTICE

Reimers believes that global education should begin at a very early age, pre-school even, where we explain to children what we think they should care about and why. We should help them understand their role as global citizens by having world education as part of the core curriculum. Regardless of age, Reimer says there are three attributes that enable a child to become globally competent – knowledge, skill, and effectiveness.

 KNOWLEDGE

We need to know and understand the history of the world but we also need to understand contemporary life, global opportunities and challenges, and how expansive yet small our world really is. Reimers breaks global knowledge into three parts:

A positive disposition toward cultural difference, that is, an interest and understanding of different civilizational streams and the ability to see them as opportunities for constructive transactions among people. These are soft skills (and attitudes) that reflect an openness to and curiosity about the variation of human cultural expression reflected internationally. In their most basic forms, these skills comprise tolerance toward cultural differences.

An ability to speak, understand, and think in languages in addition to the dominant language in the country in which people are born. Foreign language skills are analogous to stereoscopic vision to the global mind.

Deep knowledge and understanding of world history, geography, of the global dimensions of topics such as health, climate, and economics, and of the process of globalization itself.

Schools like Avenues are focused on providing this knowledge base and increasing consciousness of what a more integrated world means.

“Even though living in a highly interdependent world is not an option, being educated to do so competently is,” Reimers reminds us.

Global Education - Students

SKILL

“Young people learn much from schools, but what they learn is not only in their lessons. Teachers and administrators must learn to model the skills we want students to develop, such as good environmental practices, participatory decision-making, and the control and prevention of violence through reporting policies and clear codes of conduct,” says the UN’s Global Education First Initiative. Developing skills comes in two parts: theory and practice. Eating tacos or sipping Thai iced tea at a school’s international fair day doesn’t constitute a comprehensive international education program.

At Queens Paideia School (QPS) in Long Island City, NY, cultivating global awareness is a key component that is integrated into students’ daily experience. QPS Assistant Director Karyn Slutsky says, “Even our youngest students learn about concepts like culture (including beliefs), natural resources, and geography, along with their impact on human relations, other species, and the environment. They learn about history all over the world but they also learn about their own community, and how they can effect positive changes through small steps and effective communications. It’s a multifaceted approach—loaded with modeling, practice, and reinforcement—that seeds our students to notice and consider more of what is around them, on the local level and more expansively, and also what is inside them.”

Early childhood educators note that parents are the child’s first and most critical teachers. Nancy Schulman, Head of Early Learning Center at Avenues, and Ellen Birnbaum, Director of the 92nd Street Y Nursery School (co-authors of Practical Wisdom for Parents) note that, “It is never too early to teach good behavior,” whether by modeling a respectful but definite code of ethics or by reinforcing children’s acting in a spirit tolerance, collaboration, and kindness.

This sort of skill-building parallels a child’s growth of critical thinking skills; children learn how to use knowledge they have acquired to consider an issue from various vantage points. As problem-solving skills grow, children can learn how to think about different perspectives, appreciate these distinct points of view, and analyze them while still communicating their own beliefs in a tolerant and respectful manner. This is a particularly important function for American children who are working toward becoming world citizens. Kids in the United States have the greatest access to information, and therefore they have the opportunity and responsibility to represent the country’s ideals of democracy.

EFFECTIVENESS

The UN’s Global Education First Initiative says, “Change is possible when educators adopt a vision of ethical global citizenship. … explicitly teaching good citizenship as a subject can have powerful results with more empowered and ethical students emerging. Deeply entrenched beliefs take time to change. But young people are open to new perspectives, and schools are ideally positioned to convey them.” Parents, too, are ideally positioned to model and reinforce desirable attitudes and behaviors toward the goals of global awareness and character development.

Riemers’s three attributes for global effectiveness are useful for parents and educators to keep in mind. Learning about other societies and cultures is a developmental process, just like learning to read or developing time management skills or tennis skills. Learning to appreciate, see the value in, and have respect for other nations, religions, customs, habits, and beliefs is a long-term process that we should help our children cultivate and navigate so they can better understand the world and the role they can play in making it better and more balanced.

As Reimers pointed out in his speech, we — educators and parents — should be teaching our children “the capacity to understand globalization, anticipate risks, manage them, and seize and create opportunities in a highly integrated global economic context.”

How much international knowledge do you have? Try this brief online quiz to gauge your own general knowledge of the world.

 Stay tuned for our next post: Tips to help your child become a global citizen.