What Does it Mean to be a Global Citizen and Why Should Teachers Care?
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What Does it Mean to be a Global Citizen and Why Should Teachers Care?

by | Sep 8, 2017 | Teaching Strategies

In a world of ever-increasing access to general information, where global issues from climate change to poverty, inequality, and international conflicts dominate the news our students need to understand not only where they fit in but how they can make a difference. As teachers we all want to prepare out students for the future – but how? At Knovva Academy, we believe in equipping students with the necessary skills to thrive in today’s interconnected world. The Age of Global Citizenship What do we mean by Global Citizenship? One example comes from Global Citizen. This organization focuses on a single, monumental goal: ending global poverty by the year 2030. According to the organization’s website, “[t]he world needs active global citizens who are engaged in the world, knowledgeable about its diversity and passionate about change. Ending extreme poverty requires information and ideas that inspire and motivate the global community to act.” The last word, ACT is the most important. But before considering actions, certain standards for knowledge and understanding are necessary. UNESCO also shares this concern. Under the umbrella of UNESCO, the UN General Secretary established an educational initiative 2014 called Global Citizen Education (GCED) which organizes international forums and brings together resources, experts and professionals from the field of education who collaborate to address these educational needs. Global Citizenship Knowledge and Skills These organizations, and others, show what it means to be concerned with global citizenship at the macro level. Fernando Reimers, a professor from Harvard Graduate School of Education, gives more detailed advice that teachers can use when thinking of these global trends in their classrooms and lesson plans. Reimers claims that public schools need to instill global citizenry skills upon all of today’s students. According to an article in Usable Knowledge, an online publication by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Reimers discusses these skills: These are skills of three kinds: cross-cultural efficacy, an interest and positive disposition towards cultural difference; foreign language skills; and knowledge of world history, geography and global processes such as trade, international law, environmental and health challenges. Reimers maintains that in today’s globalized world, people can’t make informed political decisions without these key global citizenship skills. Consequently, all future citizens of any country, even those who will never be involved in jobs or environments embedded in a global mindset, need to acquire these skills in order to understand basic decisions made by their own governments. It’s easy to imagine how the contemporary discourse about pressing political issues in the US would be discussed differently, and probably with more depth, if schools appropriately developed the above mentioned skills. Given the need to foster global citizenship, Reimers points out that since the founding of UNESCO there has been an unfortunate trend for organizations to focus even less on incorporating these global citizenship skills. In short, most internationally oriented organizations are consumed by the concern for simply providing access to education, which leads to the quality and content, of both the educational materials and activities, being underdeveloped. Looking through the critical lens that Reimers offers, the long-term problem of quantity over quality arises. Global Citizenship Resources As governments and organizations try to address issues of education and global citizenship, there is also hope that students and teachers will take education into their own hands. Utilizing countless online materials like Resources4Thinking, and Global Footprints anyone can begin to learn the core skills that Reimers points out as the foundation for engaging with a globalizing world. Moreover, there are programs, like Knovva Academy’s own Model G20 Summit, enabling students to take the initiative and learn in an environment that fosters cross-cultural engagement while actually practicing global citizenship skills. Whether we like it or not, increasing interconnectivity is thrusting us all into an ever-globalizing world. We can wait for the institutions around us to adapt, and offer us new tools, or we can take our education into our own hands.
About Knovva Academy: Knovva’s signature offerings connect top students from around the world with visionary educators, experts, and innovators to gain the skills critical to 21st century leadership. From world class online courses to five-day intensive simulations to two-week immersion programs, Knovva students break down cultural barriers so they can rebuild a world without them.

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