Empower students to evolve as collaborative global citizens
“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself” – John Dewey. As globalization has impacted every aspect of our lives, education too has not been left out. The idea of ‘global education’ seeks to engage the students in such a way that they begin to comprehend their collective global selves and augment their understanding of the world around them through the perspectives of a global citizen.
As educators, we prepare our children for life – the challenges it has to offer and empower them to inculcate the skills that would make them capable of creating their own niche in the vast world around them. Our world has undergone tremendous changes in the last two decades owing to the advent of ‘globalization’. Globalization has been integrating economies and cultures across the borders, bringing about transformation in the basic fabric of our understanding of our societies–how we work, how we perceive each other, and how we communicate and engage with people living around us. Since globalization has impacted every aspect of our lives, education too has not been left out.
Barrack Obama, former U.S. President had very rightly said, “In a 21st century world where jobs can be shipped wherever there’s an Internet connection…a child born in Dallas is now competing with a child in New Delhi.” Therefore as teachers, it becomes our prime responsibility to groom our students for a world where the boundaries between countries is gradually getting indistinct and business transactions are cracked over the internet. Students today need to be highly aware of what is happening around them, they need to be well informed about the global dynamics of polity, economics, sociology and science and technology.
A recent survey conducted by UNESCO, among students across the world brought to light some very interesting observations:
- Sixty percent of the students from secondary classes felt that understanding different cultures is a very important subject area to be studied along with developing their reading, writing and mathematical skills.
- More than ninety percent of these students felt that knowledge and understanding of the world history is important for formulating solutions to global crises. They realize that learning, in the classrooms, about the past events allows them to acquire an understanding that would enable them to create a change in the future.
- Nine out of every ten student questioned, recognizes that the jobs are becoming increasingly international. This does not come as any surprise as we can see that the number of Multi-national corporations has risen over the years and the rise continues owing to the technological revolutions and the globalization of the economy as a whole.
Therefore, educational processes too demand a global perspective involving knowledge of world conditions, cross-cultural awareness, and an insight of global dynamics. Students today need to be aware of local, national and international disputes, general mechanics of the economic systems across the world, appreciate different cultural norms and ideologies and be clear and confident to think about and suggest radical alternatives, if they disagree with any prevalent practice. This is why globalization of the education process is significant. The idea of ‘global education’ seeks to engage the students in such a way that they begin to comprehend their collective global selves and augment their understanding of the world around them through the perspectives of a global citizen.
How then can we define global education?
Global education is thus an education perspective arising from the fact that we are currently living and interacting in a highly globalized world, making it all the more important for our education process to provide our students with the opportunities and competencies to harbor, reflect and share their independent individual approach and role within an interconnected society and also enable them to understand the complex socio-economic, political and ecological issues and work out strategies to change the future. Therefore, as a learning process, global education becomes a transformative method for imparting learning to our students. It aims to develop in learners the following key attributes:
- Knowledge of global governance systems, structures and issues and an understanding of the inter-relationship between local and global concerns and ultimately develop the key attributes of critical enquiry and analysis. As students develop their understanding of the world polity, history, economics, rights and responsibilities of individuals and groups, women’s and children’s rights and corporate social responsibilities, they simultaneously develop their ability to question and rationalize their views on global concerns like migration, peace and conflict, sustainable development and engage in active civic participation.
- Understanding of the shared values and identity of belonging to a common humanity and in the process comprehend the global dimensions of citizenship, which leads to an attitude of tolerance and respect for diversity in culture, language and religion.
- Ability to reflect on ethical conflicts related to social and political issues and engage actively as local, national and global citizens.
Benefits of global education…
These attributes that global education seeks to empower students with, form a few of the many benefits of this transformative education process. Social skills, confidence, independence and ability to communicate well are skills that a student studying in a global classroom will acquire with greater ease. It is a usual observation to find that students with international experience are able to mature and develop many life skills to a much higher level that is rarely matched by others. Rational thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills take on a new dimension when it involves a different language, or culture or a global setting. Travelling to different countries and learning from different societies and cultures can help our learners gain greater insight about what is exactly happening around them and form a sound opinion about various issues and make well-informed decisions and thus, establish a stable position for themselves in the competitive world.
Globalization in education opens up channels for the students to experience the diversity prevalent in the world. It is also often seen as a force that challenges the richness of the local cultural values and practices prevalent in the society. The willingness to learn a foreign language due to the economic viability of being able to understand cultural practices of a different country often may also result in gradual disregard for the local languages and cultural heritage. Economically speaking, the technologies, products and business practices brought in due to globalization threaten indigenous goods and routines just as, the age-old attributes of our native education process get diluted by the new incumbent global pedagogical techniques. On one hand, the internationalization of education has opened up many innovative ways for improving the teaching –learning process, as the student is now exposed to various sources and methods of gaining knowledge. It has made information more easily accessible. Acquisition of knowledge by students is faster, allowing teachers and students to form a global view of education whereby they can form a network system or communication interface through the internet from any part of the world. This also has a flip side, as sometimes the validity of this information can be questionable or the available information can be misinterpreted or misused. Hence, students need to be able to distinguish between authentic and unauthentic data and be helped to pick up suitable information. A key aspect of the increased dependency on internet for seeking education (online curriculum or distance learning) is the lack of human touch in the entire teaching–learning process and it seems to get more and more automated by the day. Computer screen replacing your teacher and classrooms getting substituted by video tutorials has a negative impact on the natural learning process of a student. We also need to understand that a teaching method that is successful in a certain country or environment may not be equally effective in another region given the demographic and social diversity seen across the length and breadth of our planet.
In the light of the above, institutions nurturing global education systems need to work out a balance between the two learning processes–local and global. The strong points of each need to be manifested into the pedagogical system for optimum learning benefit to the students. Classroom transaction methods that seek to open the minds of the students and help them envision a global perspective while retaining the moral values and philosophies characteristic of their native educational system, have to be employed by the schools.
Traditional native education system more often depended on a one-way transaction system for imparting knowledge where the ‘Guru’ recited and the learner listened. In the global education system, use of diverse tools for carrying out teaching-learning in a collaborative manner where the student is actively participating in the process is definitely an improvement that has revolutionized pedagogy. The role of a teacher as a facilitator in a classroom can never be undermined or done away with. The presence of a teacher as an enabler and counselor during each step of learning also allows guided supervision and provides an opportunity for the pupil to be taught moral values and key life skills to evolve as a mature and humane adult.
Education is for the mind as well as for the heart. Hence the transformative global education system incorporating the sound tenets of the native education system, to empower our students to evolve as collaborative global citizens, is the need of the hour.
Arpita Chakraborty, Principal, M.Sc (Molecular Biology), B.Ed., (CSIR-UGC NET), MBA (Educational Administration), PG Diploma in School Leadership and Management (PGDSLM). Arpita has been in the field of educational administration, content development and teaching for almost two decades. She has been associated previously with Modern School and Amity International School. She brings with her a passion for experimenting with innovative and need-based pedagogical methods. She believes in a collaborative approach involving active participation of all stakeholders in building a strong learning organization.
A child’s inquisitive mind needs the right pair of nurturing hands to develop. The school as an entity directs all its endeavours in providing the optimum opportunity and environment for the child to acquire and improve the ability and zeal to learn. In this process we seek the constant collaboration and active participation of our parents as important stakeholders of the institution. Together we empower the child with knowledge and life skills to evolve as a humane individual connected with his true inner-self.
Self -realization with knowledge, the core ideals behind the vision of MRIS, is followed in spirit in all aspects of school life and we aim to build confident, empathetic and responsible leaders of tomorrow. We have been following the principles envisioned by our Founder-visionary Dr. O.P. Bhalla and we will continue to strive ahead.