All of our futures are becoming more and more intertwined with the difficulties facing the global community. The world’s population is expected to expand from its present level of 7.3 billion people to 8.5 billion in 2030 and nearly 10 billion by 2050, according to projections.
In addition to pollution and disease management, such population increase will hurt the depletion of natural resources such as fossil fuel, food, and water supplies.
For students to engage effectively in this changing environment, they must comprehend it. Globalization will force students of the twenty-first century to sell to and buy from around the world, work for multinational corporations, compete with people from other nations, manage employees from different cultures, interact with people from all over the world, and address global problems.
By its goal, the United States Department of Education works to “improve student achievement and prepare them for global competitiveness by supporting educational excellence and providing equitable access.”
The ambitions of today’s educational systems to promote accomplishment, preparation, competitiveness, excellence, and equal access are universally recognized as admirable. While specific definitions for those terms differ and strategies for achieving them are numerous, there is a long-standing expectation in the United States that elementary and secondary education will effectively prepare students to navigate their way through successive grade levels, college, jobs, and the rest of the world.
Global competitiveness can be defined in education as a combination of abilities and qualities that enable individuals to be more productive in their personal and professional lives both within their communities and throughout the world.
Today, building global competency is essential for being competitive in the global marketplace. Students should be equipped with specific hard skills to compete in a global job market, but they should also be taught and encouraged to effectively share ideas and interact across cultures appropriately and courteously.
Student global competence is promoted by existing and emerging K–12 educational initiatives, such as 1:1 technology initiatives and language programs, the International Baccalaureate, STEAM, and cross-cultural exchange programs, among others. However, even though these initiatives are becoming increasingly popular, they are still not available to the vast majority of students.
The educational experiences that prepare students to be globally competent should be available to all students, regardless of where they live, their socioeconomic situation, or their cultural origins.
So, as educators, how can we ensure that opportunities are consistently created and that instruction is delivered in a way that ensures global competency for all? A possible solution is to equip students with instructional approaches that consistently engage global knowledge, multicultural views, and problem-solving across a wide range of subject areas and grade levels.
Global education is a simple term to describe what we are talking about.
Global education approaches that are most successful identify the attitudes, abilities, and knowledge kids need to navigate, contribute to, and succeed in the world — and they incorporate activities that are specifically designed to close opportunity gaps among students regularly.
In the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at the characteristics of globally competent students, as well as how our K-12 education institutions may use global education principles to more fairly prepare all children for college and career success.
While the notion of global competence is always evolving, these soft talents and qualities are commonly regarded as being essential for students to be internationally competitive in the modern world.
Appreciation for different cultures. Students recognize the strengths of their own cultures and strive to understand the cultures of others. They are aware of the similarities and contrasts that exist between cultures and recognize that actions and values are frequently related to culture.
Information is assessed and evaluated. It is common for students to question widely accessible information to get a deeper knowledge and deliberately assess materials and perspectives, rather than simply accepting things at face value.
Communication skills that are transferable across cultures. Students can effectively exchange ideas with peers and adults from a variety of backgrounds — whether electronically or in person — and are equipped with the necessary abilities to integrate into new communities and environments.
Ability to see things from a different perspective. Students express interest and empathy for others’ points of view, and they may even show compassion for their own.
Humility with a sense of humor. Students recognize that their knowledge does not end there and recognize how much more there is to learn about the world than they now know. Students need to comprehend both the grandeur and the intricacies of the world.
Diverse ways of thinking. In addition to seeing alternate or unique answers to existing problems, students can imagine the world in a way that is different from how it appears to be right now.
Literacy in the use of technology. Students make use of and investigate existing technologies to interact and work with others, as well as to learn and share new ideas and information with their classmates. Students develop new technology or discover new applications for existing technologies that aid them and others in navigating their respective surroundings.
In collaboration with VIF International Education (@vifglobaled), this piece is part of a blog series on global education and fair preparation in the classroom that will run throughout the year. Participate in the debate on Twitter by using the hashtag #globaled. Check out Global Education and Equitable Preparation for additional information.
VIF International Education is led by David Young, who is also the company’s CEO. David can be found on Twitter under the handle @dyvif.