Increasing Your Students' Global Awareness

President Trump’s recent controversial executive orders impacting both refugees and immigrants have raised concerns for educators on how their students view their global world, and more importantly, what teachers can do to raise the global awareness of their students to help them become better informed, empowered, and compassionate citizens of the world.
According to their website the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21), a group that works to develop collaborative partnerships between schools, the business community, and government leaders, defines the term global awareness as follows:

  • Using 21st century skills to understand and address global issues
  • Learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work and community contexts
  • Understanding  other nations and cultures, including the use of non-English languages

The P21 website goes on to list a variety of websites and resources that educators can explore to help them bring about increased global awareness in their classrooms, including partnering with organizations such as TeachUNICEF, Asia Society, Primary Source, and the Institute for International Studies at Brown University.

In a recent Education Week article, Illinois high school teacher and Fulbright-Schuman Scholar Award winner Letitia Zwickert blogged about how teachers could help students raise what she called their global quotient, or GQ. In her own words, she wrote, “My idea of GQ is more encompassing than just a global mindset, it means taking the knowledge that comes along with the mindset and creating global change. This is very important in education today. We know our students need globally minded educators to give them a global perspective so they can be more competitive in the labor force and more complete citizens in an interconnected world. We also need to model active involvement in making the world a better place.” To raise one’s GQ, Zwickert offered these suggestions:

  1. Pursue a Global Issue. Take up a cause that can have a global impact, such as equity, hunger, or affordable energy. Zwickert suggested readers visit this United Nations website to get ideas.

  1. Make Global Connections. Find others who are making a global impact and network with them. Programs such as the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program can help connect like-minded educators in pursuit of this cause.

  1. Reach Global, Bring it Local. Teachers can harness the power of common technology like Skype and Google Hangouts to bring global connects right into their classroom or community. Zwickert writes, “Reach out to other teachers, both locally and globally, within your circle of GQ friends, develop your GQ idea, and actively work to spread knowledge, share ideas, and build projects that foster change.”

It is our duty to instill global awareness in our children. We need them to understand and appreciate differences, to help them work collaboratively with diversity in an effort to help them build a better and brighter tomorrow for our society. With today’s increasingly robust global marketplace, the jobs of the future will expect employees who can understand and can work in a variety of cultural and global contexts. Government leaders, politicians, and policy-makers need to understand how their decisions may impact our country’s partnerships. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our children need increased global awareness so that they can be caring, compassionate citizens who have a profound and deep respect for humanity at all levels now and in the future. Our future depends on this.

This article was written originally for MultiBriefs Education.

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