Thursday, April 26, 2012

Global Learning's Effect on Education
Education has come a long way since the little red school house. In the past, we were limited by our location, our access to hard copies of books providing information, and by much simpler technology.   It is so amazing to think about how far the United States alone has come in terms of breadth of education. Once we could only read about places in books or see them on postcards. Maybe someone's family would take a vacation or trip to somewhere else in the world, but it wasn't very often that people got to see how other parts of the world lived and learned. Today, we have the capability to learn from all different sources and in variety of mediums. Technology has catalyzed our ability to communicate and know about places other than our domestic homes. Globalization may have started in the business world, but I think it is doing the most good in education.

Global learning is connecting us. We are living in a contemporary world, and we live and interact freely within a globalized setting. Instead of being limited to learning about domestic issues in our classrooms, from a single common perspective, global education gives students the opportunity to reflect upon issues within a larger, interconnected society. They can have the chance to understand the relationships of common social, political and economic issues between different areas of the world. To make an analogy, instead of swimming in a kiddie pool, those learning in a global educational environment are swimming in the ocean!

The Maastricht Global Education declaration (2002) defines global education in two ways"

"Global education is education that opens people's eyes and minds to the realities of the globalized world and awakens them to bring about a world of greater justice, equity and Human Rights for all."

"Global education is understood to encompass Development Education, Human Rights Education, Education for Sustainability, Education for Peace and Conflict Prevention and Intercultural Education being the global dimension of Education for Citizenship."

What global education is doing is knocking down the walls and barriers that used to exist because of distance between countries and areas of the world. By approaching education from a global standpoint, we can create a partnership between different people, cultures, and religions on both the large and small scale. Transformative learning can happen, and students can approach problem solving with more than themselves in mind. They can look at our whole world, rather than their world.

Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay have done wonders in the area of global education with their Flat Classroom project. You can read more about the Flat Classroom Project here. Davis and Lindsay have students consider the 10 "flatteners" discusses by Thomas Friedman in his book, The World is Flat. By focusing on how the world is becoming further globalized, students can reflect on their own contributions to the global social, political and economic spectrum.

Global learning is effecting education by posing new expectations from students today. In our contemporary society, new technology is placing us only a few keystrokes and clicks away from connecting with someone completely new, from somewhere far distant from us. It is now even more important to understand cultures other than our own, so that we may all work collectively to promote a better world for future generations. Dr. Merry Merryfield from Outreach World (a website for teaching students about the world) notes that global education stemmed from international studies. We wanted to help young people learn about other cultures, and it has just exploded and now we focus on connecting people and promoting a harmonious mission.

I think that global education has enriched my learning experience. Where do you think global education has taken, or will take you?

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