By Ed Gragert: Director, Global Campaign for Education-US
Increasingly, we are expecting our teachers to produce globally competence students, ones that have a global awareness, are speakers of World Languages and who interact with peers around the world to both give and listen to differing perspectives. And all of this should be done while collaborating in teams, and involving significant critical thinking and problem-solving project-based learning. Whew! Personally, I would not know where to start if this was on my shoulders.
It’s great that Becky Morales and Homa Tavangar are providing concrete step-by-step examples of how younger students can learn about and engage with the world. And from my experience in iEARN, kindergarten through 6th grade is a great age to start engaging them and preparing for additional work at the high school level.
I have found the issue of access to education globally to be very effective in making the world more understandable and about which students can be compassionate and passionate. Although students may not fully appreciate the statistical scope of 57 million elementary school age children not being in school (and another 70+ million teens without an education), they can quickly grasp the troubling reality of their own life if they not to be able to attend school and learn. It is often a rude awakening for K-12 young people to learn that others of the same age in many parts of the world are not able to sit at a desk or in a classroom circle with books and learning manipulatives within easy reach. And when someone points out that these out-of-school children are mostly girls and persons with disabilities, the immediate reaction is “that’s not fair.”
The primary purpose behind the “Lesson For All: Enhancing Global Competence” curriculum, with modules for K-3, 4-6 and high school, is to convey as a major global issue the hurdles that children around the world face in their struggle for an education. The free and downloadble Lesson For All is premised on access to a quality education being a right and is mapped to the Common Core State Standards and the global competence grid developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Asia Society.
The high school module provides applications in history, economics, social studies and other curricular areas. For example, the struggle for all to attain the right to an education is tied to the long-term impact of colonialism and historical struggles for other rights in this country. The lessons explore the critical link between an educated populace and citizen engagement in local communities.
Most importantly, the Lesson For All provides age-appropriate extensions, options for students to act on the learning (also part of the CCSSO/Asia Society grid) provided by the 62 member coalition Global Campaign for Education-US.
Using examples in the book Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World, the “Lesson For All” celebrates learning and enables students to gain new perspectives on how the goal of all children in school and learning can be realized in different ways in different parts of the world. Classes may look differently, but the key is that students everywhere be equipped with the skills that they will need to succeed in the 21st century. Author Susan Hughes writes:
“When North American kids picture a school, odds are they see rows of desks, stacks of textbooks, and linoleum hallways. They probably don’t picture caves, boats, or train platforms…There’s a whole world of unusual schools out there!
But the most amazing thing about these schools isn’t their location or what they look like. It’s that they provide a place for students who face some of the toughest environmental and cultural challenges, and live some of the most unique lifestyles, to learn. Education is not readily available for kids everywhere, and many communities are strapped for the resources that would make it easier for kids to go to school. In short, it’s not always easy getting kids off to class — but people around the world are finding creative ways to do it.”
By creating these classroom resources, we in GCE-US hope to elevate the priority of education internationally because Education for All is both in the interests of the U.S. and is a universal right for children everywhere. During Global Action Week, we highlight educators and students who are working to ensure equitable access to a quality education across the US. We hope you will join us.