World Wonder

Inspiring Global Citizenship

Why Global Education Matters, Even for 1st Graders

on November 19, 2015


Knowledge is power

“Knowledge is Power” school poster.

It has been over a month since I attended the Global Education Forum in Philadelphia where I shared my ideas about providing global competence education in our K-5 public schools.  I was in heaven! I was immersed in an environment of leading experts working to bring more global education and awareness to our K-12 schools.  The attendees represented NGOs, educators, parents, administrators, and other individuals interested in creating more global learning opportunities for our youngest citizens.  With the recent events in Paris, I am reminded once again, how critical it is for our communities to embrace global learning and to prepare our youngest citizens to be active global leaders, change makers, and innovators.

One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Veronica Boix Mansilla is the following – “Virtually every major issue people face – from climate change to national security to public health – has a global dimension.  Information technologies ensure that news from every country reverberates around the world in minutes.  With over two million migrants worldwide, migration and immigration are creating magnificently more diverse neighborhoods, communities, and nations.  More than ever, people, cultures, and nations are interdependent, requiring the preparation of students capable and disposed to solve problems on a global scale and participate effectively in a global economic and civic environment.  No longer a luxury for a few, global competence is a requirement for all.”  According to the Asia Society Center for Global Education, there are five reasons why global competence matters.  The top five reasons include:

  1. Global competence is the toolkit a productive, involved citizenry uses to meet the problems and opportunities of the world.

In the curriculum, global competence challenges students to investigate the world, consider a variety of perspectives, communicate ideas, and take meaningful action. A globally focused curriculum engages students in their own learning and motivates them to strive for knowledge and understanding. And a curious, inspired student strives to learn more in school and beyond.


2. A new generation of students requires different skills from the generations that came before.

The world is changing fast. Boundaries—literal as well as figurative— are shifting and even disappearing altogether. The culture that once lived halfway around the world now lives just down the block. The ability to thrive in this new and rapidly changing environment is grounded in a globally focused curriculum.


3. More than ever before, individual actions reach around the globe.

Environmental concerns, economic shifts, global poverty, population growth, human rights, and political conflict can seem intractable and overwhelming, yet they absolutely require thoughtful action. In a globally focused curriculum, students learn that the world needs them to act, and that they can make a difference.


4. Global competence integrates knowledge of the world and the skill of application with the disposition to think and behave productively.

Global competence is not restricted to knowing about other cultures and other perspectives. In addition to knowledge of the world, a globally competent citizen exhibits habits like critical thinking, rational optimism, innovation, empathy, and awareness of the influences of culture on individual behavior and world events.


5. Success in career and life will depend on global competence, because career and life will play out on the global stage.

Already, government, business, and cultural institutions are called to solve the world’s problems cooperatively. Engaging in these challenges requires high-order knowledge and thinking skill, as well as shared language and cultural understanding. In a globally focused curriculum, students prepare to approach problems from multiple perspectives and to thrive in a global future.

These are the reasons why I am on a personal mission to bring more global learning to our local K-5 public schools.  In a time where teachers are feeling more and more pressure to roll out new standards and assessments and public schools in general are resourced stressed, I see no other solution but to leverage the talents of community organizations, volunteers, and private funding, as a vehicle for bringing more global education to our local public schools.  This is why at my daughter’s school I am facilitating a monthly international club for all 1st graders in the after school program.  The original concept came from one of my most globally minded friends, Meredith Vostrejs, who is also a returned Peace Corps volunteer and a specialist in global health issues.  What I love most, is watching how excited my students get when learning about the world.  We spend our time learning about things like, geography, the environment, how other kids live around the world, foreign languages, global cultures and celebrations, and how to make a difference.  Our time together has been about exposing these young citizens to the complexity, diversity, and beauty of the global community and introducing them to global issues and asking them to problem solve, think creatively, and compassionately.  Their curiosity and excitement fuels my hope and affirms my belief that Global Education Matters, Even for 1st Graders.

A few ways for volunteers to inject “global” learning in their local schools:

  • Start an international club at your school
  • Ask your school PTA or PTO about sponsoring an international day or cultural event
  • Invite a speaker from a local international non-profit to present at a school assembly
  • Support a service-learning project in your school, focused on a global cause
  • Sign up your classroom with virtual pen pals from another country
  • Conduct an art project in your child’s classroom focused on another country or culture
  • Invite a community member to read stories in their native language
  • Share photos and stories from an international journey you recently took

And don’t forget to check out World Wonder on Facebook for more ideas and inspiration.


One response to “Why Global Education Matters, Even for 1st Graders

  1. Richard King says:

    Another great blog making concrete suggestions of things we can all do to extend our children’s horizons internationally.


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