World Wonder

Inspiring Global Citizenship

The Gift of Global Perspective

on December 12, 2014
animation of students asking questions.

Exploration, inquiry and discovery. (Image courtesy of USF)

I was recently inspired by a workshop I attended with World Savvy. World Savvy is an organization that designs and delivers teacher training with a focus on bringing more global competence, project-based learning and community action into the classroom. At the start of the workshop, the ice breaker went like this: “If you had unlimited resources where would you go in the world?” It was fascinating to hear from each of the 20 attendees, mostly strangers, about where they would go and why. It immediately gave one insight into people’s interests, desires and personalities.  It also quickly lightened up the mood in the room. The answers were intriguing like the local middle school teacher who said she would go to Egypt to learn more about the ancient pharaohs. She said, “Ever since I was a child I pretended I was a pharaoh, so I would love to spend more time with my imaginary friends.” Or the middle school teacher from Marin who talked about her Scandinavian roots and how she prefers cooler climates and the green lush landscape of Northern Europe. And the educator from Oakland who talked about her travels and her favorite place being Turkey, where she felt very little racism. She would love to spend more time in a society where she felt most comfortable. And the youth coach who grew up in Los Angeles and expressed her desire to spend more time exploring her birth place in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. It made me wonder what would it take to instill this kind of global perspective and curiosity in our youngest citizens.

World Savvy curriculum is primarily focused on grades 6-12, but much of their training curriculum can be applied in the K-5 environment. During the workshop, all I could think about was what a gift this would be for all students to be exposed to such rich content and topics that expose young people to the diversity and challenges in the world, providing inspiration for action. It made me think about how we as parents, educators, community members and volunteers have the power in our hands to expose kids to the beauty and realities of the world and to inspire action by the youngest citizens in our communities. So how might we go about this? One idea, is to ask the littlest people in our lives, what inspires you the most? What are you curious about? What would you like to learn more about? And take that inspiration and broaden it.  Put it in the context of a global issue, place or people and talk about ways to understand the issues and how to create change. Our littlest citizens are compassionate people by nature. By doing this we are encouraging a heightened level of empathy and understanding. The goal is to take these skills with them beyond K-5 into middle school and high school and into college and the work force. Start young and provide that gift!

What sparks your child’s curiosity? How can you encourage the gift of global perspective?

Here are a few resources that might inspire you:

  • Gardening – Introduce your child to gardening practices in other parts of the world.  What gardening practices are “smart” practices depending on the climate you live in? What about edible gardens? How do people grow food in different parts of the world whether you are living in a rural or urban environment? One interesting resource to share is Urban Farming, an initiative to encourage the establishment of gardens on unused land and raising awareness about health and wellness.
  • Reading and Storytelling – Introduce your child to children’s books in different languages or books about children around the world. How would your child write their story? How would your child share the books they love with other kids around the world? I recently discovered this online collection of Time for Kids articles that tell the story of young people around the world. What’s most fun about this resource is for every country they feature. they offer a Day in the Life of a local child. How would your child describe a day in their life? Have them create a book and think about sharing their story with a pen pal.
  • Sports – Wouldn’t it be fun to explore the world through sports? What do local sports tell you about a culture? Are girls participating in sports in other countries, why? Why not? What sport would you like to try? You might even check out your local resources, for example, here in the Bay Area there is a thriving cricket league because of the large population of athletes from India. Wouldn’t it be fun to catch a local cricket match! I searched for a comprehensive book about sports around the work that might interest children, and I have yet to find anything. But here is a really fun list of games played around the world.
  • Art – Does your child enjoy painting, drawing, using mixed media, crafts, fashion?  Art is one of the more accessible means for learning about a country, culture and people. Art can provide historical context, cultural lessons, connection and emotion. The Met has an interesting site that shows numerous traveling exhibits featuring art from around the world.
  • Music – You can learn a lot about a country and culture through their local music. Does your child enjoy making music, singing, dancing, acting, using instruments? I have always loved the assortment of global music offered by Putumayo. Share this musical magic and watch imaginations soar!
  • Cooking – Does your child enjoy cooking? How about exploring recipes from around the world, including the different ingredients, spices, and traditions around food. Food is another subject that can teach children a lot about a culture and unique traditions such as the local delicacies and celebrations around food. This online resource offers some really fun recipes from around the world.
  • Science and Technology – For those children that love to create, experiment, invent, or tinker, there are many ways that these interests and skills can be applied in a global context. How are countries around the world impacted by innovation and access to technology? Why do some places have more access to today’s innovations over others?  How are technologies like solar energy, green construction, and new medical technologies impacting societies around the world? There is a wide array of resources available including learning resources from the national maker space movement, the Exploratorium, the Cal Academy of Sciences and the Tech Museum.   Challenge your children to explore the world through science and technology and you’ll be amazed by what they discover and create.
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