Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
So in sitting down to read through a few more blog posts to get ready for today, I realized that my own contribution was missing! I wrote this quite some time ago, but clearly forgot to post it – my sincerest apologies.
The very first and most lasting point that stuck out to me from our readings came rather early on in Howard Gardner's preface of Educating for Global Competence. It reads, "we must be willing to confront examples of bad work and bad citizenship, whether they occur among 20-year-olds or 60-year-olds, in history, literature, and our hometown; and we must help young people develop their own ethical compasses, which they can and should use in conjunction with their mentors and peers." I think this quote really gets at one of my own core beliefs about living "globally." In the end, it's really about being that good citizen – demonstrating respect for others and acting ethically. It also speaks to the idea that this isn't something for older students; all students can begin to engage in the idea that there are other perspectives out there and there are was to communicate and learn with/from others, regardless of where they are currently or where they are from.
Another point which stood out to me, this time from the Reimers work (page 191), is this:
These values include compassion and caring, concern for others,
respect and reciprocity; commitment to universal human rights
and international covenants (including the expansion of human
freedoms and capabilities, and recognition of the basic equality
of all people); and commitment to protecting the environment and
of addressing global challenges collaboratively.
I can't quite think of anything better that we should be teaching our students. I'm looking forward to making use of the resources Reimers speaks of and exploring these ideas further with my fourth graders this year.
Laura M. (LS)
Monday, August 26, 2013
Reading about global challenges, I couldn't help but think about two projects I have come across in the past, and I don't know if they are being utilized anywhere at BB&N:
1) the NAIS Challenge 20/20
2) Global Nomads Group (http://gng.org/)
From the NAIS Challenge 20/20 website:
Challenge 20/20 is an Internet-based program that pairs classes at any grade level (K-12) from schools in the U.S. with their counterpart classes in schools in other countries; together, the teams (of two or three schools) find local solutions to one of 20 global problems.
Below are the 20 global problems outlined in High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them by Jean Francois Rischard. Schools participating in NAIS's Challenge 20/20 program may choose from among these problems. The Challenge 20/20 teams -- who are school groups in the U.S. partnered with school groups in other countries -- work to find local solutions to the global problem.
Sharing our planet: Issues involving the global community
- Global warming
- Biodiversity and ecosystem losses
- Fisheries depletion
- Water deficits
- Maritime safety and pollution
Sharing our humanity: Issues requiring a global commitment
- Massive step-up in the fight against poverty
- Peacekeeping, conflict prevention, combating terrorism
- Education for all
- Global infectious diseases
- Digital divide
- Natural disaster prevention and mitigation
Sharing our rule book: Issues needing a global regulatory approach
- Reinventing taxation for the twenty-first century
- Biotechnology rules
- Global financial architecture
- Illegal drugs
- Trade, investment, and competition rules
- Intellectual property rights
- E-commerce rules
- International labor and migration rules
Alan November once wrote, "At an education conference in England an insightful teacher made this distinction between what our schools were designed to do and what we need to do: 'We have succeeded at teaching our students how to be taught and what we need to do is teach them how to learn.'" While it is a bit simplified, but I think this statement sums up perfectly a change that needs to happen in the world of education in order to help our students prepare for their futures. This shift in the mindset of educators is one example of the change in skills from the 19th and 20th century world of education to the 21st century skills that both Reimers and the Asia Society require in their definitions of global competency.
Reimers said that "the educational paradox of the beginning of the twenty-first century lies in the disconnect between the superb institutional capacity of schools and their underperformance in preparing students to invent a future that appropriately addresses the global challenges and opportunities shared with their fellow world citizens… Few schools around the world today are equipping students with the skills and habits of mind necessary to collaborate with others, across national boundaries, in inventing and implementing lasting solutions to these challenges…. Preparing students to deal with such complexity and controversies is at the heart of global education. Such preparation is absent today in most schools around the world. This is paradoxical, because we live at a time of extraordinary institutional capacity."
The Asia Society similarly stated, "The vast majority of teaching around the world is still geared to preparing young people for lives in the 19th and 20th centuries" and commented on the lack of change to curricula, forms of pedagogy, uses of media, and forms of assessment. "The world for which we are preparing our youth is qualitatively different from the industrial world in which our public school systems were created." This need for new skills for the 21st century relates perfectly to Daniel Pink's "conceptual age" that is referenced in the reading and that we read about a year or two ago as a faculty.
While the skills are undeniably necessary, I couldn't help but notice the need for disposition as well. I was most struck by Gardner's statement, "What is needed more than ever is a laser-like focus on the kinds of human beings that we are raising and the kids of societies- indeed in a global era, the kind of society- that we are fashioning."
Reimers summed it up best by stating "Preparing students with the skills and the ethical dispositions to invent a future that enhances human well-being in this space of possibility is the most critical challenge for schools in our time."
Lower School Technology
Can't help thinking that we're not doing enough as a community on teaching and talking regularly about our own environmental stewardship, ethics, integrity, empathy, and human rights. Peter Cohen, NY Businessman referenced in Reimer, spoke of developing trust among societies. Howard Gardner alluded to leading by example, and "helping young people develop their own ethical compasses."
Are we doing enough to teach to our students' hearts and spirits or just their highly capable intellects?
The conclusion of The Asia Society stated that, "globally competent students are able to do the following:
1. Investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, framing significant problems and conducting well-crafted and age-appropriate research.
2. recognize perspectives, others' and their own, articulating and explaining such perspectives thoughtfully and respectfully.
3. Communicate ideas effectively with diverse audiences, bridging geographic, linguistic, ideological, and cultural barriers.
4. Take action to improve conditions, viewing themselves as players in the world and participating reflectively."
I agree with this almost entirely, however I believe that we need to begin by ignoring the first point. It is my opinion that teaching systems thinking is more fundamental than teaching kids to think about global issues. I believe that in the lower age-levels of education, by focussing on systems thinking we build a stronger foundation on which our students can be successful in a larger range of professions. It is hard for a young person to be able to relate to conditions far beyond their own experiences, so by jumping to such different systems as foreign or global issues one compounds the task beyond their capabilities. By first focussing on a system that more closely aligns with their own knowledge of the world, students can then begin to grapple with the bigger picture issue and thus feel empowered and able to solve problems. As the student ages and begins to be able to grapple more variations on their own life experience, then this is the time to introduce global problems.
I very much hope that one day, students that we teach will help bring peace to the Middle East, eradicate Malaria and save the polar bears. However I believe we teach them to do that by first exploring ways we can reduce the number of school-wide absences due to the cold and flu and creating a carbon-neutral campus, as just a few examples. These examples are then able to be scaled up to national problems such as America's homeless rates, the widening economic gap, and issues surrounding voting rights. I think exposing students to different cultures and world views is essential, and I think there are many wonderful programs around the school that work with different countries and cultures. But as a teacher designing curriculum I think it would be much easier to do so successfully if instead of jumping to foreign problems I focussed on a foundation of systems thinking.
As I made my way back from a week-long soccer trip in Scotland with 30-odd BB&N boys, I found this topic to be incredibly relevant, to say the least. Watching our students navigate in unfamiliar territory, some cautious and tentative, others showing the signs of seasoned travel, it was so evident how important global understanding is, and there's no doubt that this need will only increase in time.
At the end of the week, I was so impressed with all of our boys on several levels - thankfully, but not surprisingly, their behavior was one of them!. Firstly, they showed a willingness to try new things and push out of their comfort zones – haggis was ordered on more than one occasion at our meals, as well as other foods unfamiliar to them. Second was their strong desire to get to know about people from other cultures. We were lucky enough to have receptions planned after a few of our games, and both visitors and hosts eagerly dove in to cross the culture gulf that had been narrowed by their common love of soccer and allowed new friendships to form. Watching them swap Facebook and other social networking addresses illustrated the power and potential that technology will certainly play in these young adults' lives. Lastly, to listen to them speak about their newfound appreciation and affection for another culture demonstrated the power of these kinds of interactions and how strongly they can inform opinions and beliefs.
Given this experience, I came away feeling that we do a very good job preparing our students for a more integrated global future. They are open to new thoughts and perspectives, unafraid to take risks, and capable of synthesizing these things into a modified outlook. Where I feel there's more that we could do is in helping to teach them why this is so important. How do we take learning opportunities such as this and help them see their world as a part of a bigger stage? I feel that if we can generate better and better results here, we can feel confident that our students are not just globally integrated, but ready to lead globally.
As I enjoy my stay in Glasgow, Scotland I cannot help but think about the importance of "global education". Each day as we drive around this great city we drive on the "wrong side" of the road, and although it feels different for us visitors it is natural for the Scottish folks. Even simple tasks as walking down a flight of stairs-one must travel on the right side of the stairwell- or you might just get a quick yelp from a kind local. Experiencing other cultures, and learning about limits beyond our own lives is clearly important. It was great for the students to learn and start to understand how this foreign city works, thinks and functions. At times in the U.S.A. we tend to think that our methods are the best, however that is not only ignorant, but also simply not true. Over the last week we have experienced how caring, passionate, outgoing and smart the people of Glasgow are-and forever will be.
Buckingham, Browne & Nichols
Upper School Librarian
80 Gerry's Landing Road
Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone: (617) 800-2150
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Sunday, August 25, 2013
In his conclusion, Reimers makes the point that communities and schools must make time to discuss and determine the purpose of education -- before success in developing globally competent students will become a reality. He states that because we don't think sufficiently about the purpose of education, "schools, teachers, and students spend great effort in ways that are dissociated from the purposes they value." I hope that at the very least, we will spend time (beyond the opening faculty meeting) discussing what we believe the purpose of education to be, and that we share that belief with our families and students.
I look forward to finding meaningful ways for my kindergarten students to begin the path towards global competency. The summer reading has given me several ideas of projects and activities we might explore. I'm also interested in exploring existing resources developed by Oxfam, UNESCO, Bridges to Understanding, World Savvy, etc.
Why Global Stories Matter
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I don't think that anyone can disagree with the ideas proposed. But like Bill said, in a culture which likes to measure and assess learning at every level, it is not a curriculum that is easily measured. I shudder to think what kinds of measurement tools might be devised to assess the students' progress. Clearly this is a curriculum which has different implications for different levels. Good teachers have always tried to maintain a wide perspective in their subject areas. In our own school, foreign language is taught from Grade one on. Science teachers can make a point of acknowledging the contributions of every culture. Teachers of literature can introduce works from other cultures. And Social Studies can examine issues from multiple perspectives. This sounds to me like a curriculum that runs through everything we do as teachers. It is as much a state of mind as a curriculum. We have a great deal to accomplish as teachers. I worry that, at least on the elementary level, if we try to take on too much we could miss some of the fundamentals.
Grade 5 Homeroom
BB&N Lower School
Jeffrey Finell mentions in his blog, "Students should become lifelong learners who are respectful and caring of the people around them By forming better global citizens, we are trying to create a ripple effect to benefit others outside of our school walls."
BB&N has also made similar efforts like Finell's school. During my twenty-plus year career with BB&N, I have witnessed sincere attempts to embrace multicultural reform through achievement gap studies, diversity education, and training for faculty, board members, the administrative team, and staff. These have all be noble attempts to construct global competency policies. Much credit must go to Lewis Bryant, members of the board, administration, and Diversity Committee, and faculty members who have collectively embraced the on-going challenge of educating our students and families about the importance of this transformative work.
There are many people who can express themselves for more effectively than I about the complexities of global competency. For example, Nelson Mandela may have said it best when he addressed his nation upon being freed from prison:
"Today, all of us do, by our presence here… confer glory and hope to newborn liberty. Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud… We, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil. We thank all of our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession with the people of our country of what is, after all, a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity. We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the con tuning bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender, and other discrimination.
Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another… the sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. Let freedom reign. God bless Africa!"
Nelson Mandela, from his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom
What more can I say when for years we have had such incredible people representing to the world the need for us to get to know each another as one humanity. Nelson Mandela is one of the world's best living examples of global competency in real time.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Friday, August 23, 2013
As I re-read the assigned articles this summer and then read colleagues' posts about global competency, I felt inspired, motivated, and excited about the school year ahead.
As many teachers mentioned in their posts, I think we are doing a great job teaching global competency already but agree that we could be doing a lot more- especially in the areas of empathy building and social learning. I agree whole-heartedly with Daisy's post about how "creating a globally competent school culture occurs through systemic micro-actions and habits of global mindedness, as well as larger gestures related to multi-faceted diversity, curriculum, travel, and interaction." I think keeping these small and large goals at top of mind is a perfect start to our global competency work this year.
I look forward to sharing ideas about global competency with colleagues next week and throughout this school year.
Here are some of my thoughts/mind wanderings on this topic-
1. The word "Connections" resonated with me again and again in the readings and postings about global competency.
Connecting fosters communication and problem solving while also building empathy and understanding. As teachers our job is connecting- we build connections with our students, with our students' families, and with our colleagues. We also help students build connections with each other, with their families, with us, and with the local and global communities around them. As these connections are built/fortified- the students learn more about each other, about other people and other cultures, and they start to see the world through different perspectives (perspectives that reach beyond themselves). When students are able to make/experience these local and global connections- they better understand how their lives are connected to the lives of people locally and globally. This leads to a deeper connectedness ("unity within diversity") and students begin to develop/ strengthen their own "ethical compasses" (Gardner) with which to address/ refute biased beliefs and stereotypes. It is important to start developing these connections in the early years and then to keep building on them in ways that are "well-motivated, constructive, and world-building" (Howard Gardner). Building these connections gives teachers and students more opportunities to become active and involved global citizens, who are interested in helping to bring about positive social, political, and educational change.
2. The idea that teacher/learner roles can be interchangeable.
I have been thinking a lot this summer about the role(s) of the teacher in the classroom. I noticed that both Anthony and Dana referred to this in their posts as well. They both talked about how important it is for the 'kid voice' as well as the 'teacher voice' to be heard in classroom; that both voices should 'negotiate and navigate the curriculum' (Anthony). I like this idea. This was something we discussed and experimented with at length in the Design Thinking Workshop I took earlier this summer. Design Thinking, creative thinking-in-action, gives students an active role in their learning. The students work on "passion projects"- developing products for others to help others- while the teacher helps them in a supporting/guiding role. The results are magical. Because the students are given such an active role in their learning- creating their project and then teaching others- they are so much more motivated and involved. In addition, they understand what they are learning on such a higher level. I also like that the teacher's role is to guide the students and support them in their learning; a role that is very different from the traditional lecture style of teaching. I think it is important for students to see their teachers as being both teachers and learners- we are helping them learn but we are also learning right alongside of them. This year, I plan to have the K curriculum be guided more by the students' passions and to make sure I am constantly shifting my role between teacher/ guide/ mentor/ learner.
3. Finding a good balance between using technology and having hands-on experiences.
I just returned home after two weeks on a small island in Maine, an island with only a few cars and no cell or Internet reception. I was there with my family and a few friends- building a small summerhouse in the woods. I spent hours every day doing work I've never done before- sanding, caulking, painting, plastering, building a deck, and splitting wood. I made a lot of mistakes but I learned a lot and was fully immersed in the daily tasks. In addition, I enjoyed how the projects had us work closely as a team- to collaborate, problem-solve, communicate, and take risks. We talked to each other, shared ideas, drew pictures, built models, and tried out different methods. We also laughed a lot. It was such a positive experience to work together and to see the combined results of our hard work. Working on this project made me think about similar projects I'd done in school, college, and/or grad school. Often these group projects (building block structures or forts, delving into a creative art project or science experiment, working on a puppet show or performance, or volunteering/ going on a field-trip) were my favorite, most memorable activities. It is important that children have opportunities during the day to work together, make choices, explore, construct, and experiment. I think there is more time allocated for this in the younger grades (social studies, science, art, free choice, recess, etc.) but in the older grades it is becoming more and more obsolete. This saddens me and I hope that maybe with our new Lower School schedules this might change.
While it was wonderful to be away from technology for two weeks, it was difficult too. You realize how much we are surrounded by it/ how much we depend on it. Within hours of returning to my apartment from the island, I was doing all of my communication and work via technology. I was checking work emails, writing texts, making phone-calls, organizing my Google calendar, paying bills, and posting blog responses. Technology has become one of the main ways in which we communicate/ learn about the world around us. But, it's important to make sure that we also take breaks from technology to 'smell the roses,' to go on a nature walk, and to connect in person. I think a balance between the two is essential. Students who are globally competent, twenty-first century learners need to be able to succeed at both of these activities. They need to be flexible and resilient, able to adjust to different experiences and environments. A child in Kindergarten might go from independently working on an IPAD to leading a group of friends in building a fort outside. Providing opportunities for both of these experiences is important and will make for more well-rounded, successful global citizens.
- Maria(h) B.
Hongchen Wang (US Chinese)
In June I went back to China and for the first time I visited Xi-An, the ancient city. It was the capital for thirteen dynasties in the 3,000 years history of China. My hotel is located in the city center – by the Bell Tower, which is the center of the city, surrounded by a big square. When I checked in at front desk, a Chinese young man served me and he looked at my American passport, glanced at my round-flat face, said to me with envy, "You are an American"?! I corrected him, "I am a Chinese, but have American citizenship." He grinned and did not say anything more. When I entered my room on the seventh floor, I looked out of the window. The Bell Tower was just in front of my eyes. Along the street surrounding the square, western styled shopping malls stand proudly with splendid advertisements showing many imported famous brand products on the windows and walls. Among them, MacDonald's large yellow M shone under the hot summer sun. Opposite of my hotel, I found a Starbucks, crowded with Chinese and Foreigners in and out. At that moment, the scene confused me. I felt I was lost. Is here my motherland? What was my identity? Where is my culture, my history? Such feeling might just expose what is my Global Competency. Although I have been in the US for many years, I have not fully embraced the idea of being a "global citizen". So I have to continue to educate myself while teaching my students Chinese – to prepare them as a "global citizen".
As the traveler who has once been away from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate (more) lovingly, our own. (Margaret Mead, 1901-1978)
Education as conscious evolution must aim at making this wider patriotism (global citizenry) as common a possession of the individual as the narrower patriotism is at present; and teachers who would work for lasting security can make the most effective contribution by conceiving of their work of teaching in world terms. (Andrews, 1915, Teachers College Record)
Before the world of Internet and cell phones, 9/11 and even WWI, educators and scholars discussed the importance of cultural competency and of global citizenry as a means to achieving international peace and security. Today more than ever, teaching global values and cultural literacy will provide "deep knowledge and understanding of topics such as health, climate and economics..[enabling students].to think critically and creatively about the complexity of current global challenges." (Reimers, 2008)
Our work addressing this global education initiative impacts how we teach, assess, communicate with and engage our students. The work also requires that we reflect and question our own perspectives and understanding of how the content and process of BB&N's program should be tweaked and adjusted through collaborative and at times experiential methodology. It is an evolution of process, not a revolution of thought or program content. This is the work, we as dedicated educators do each year-do you ever teach a lesson or unit the same way twice? Similarly, as our world changes and the demands and resources shift, so does our approach to meet the changing, shrinking world in which we live, or support and understand the student population each year.
Remember multicultural education? Global education is neither interchangeable nor replaceable for the cultural fluency that comes from multicultural-rich lessons.This approach affirms the students in our classrooms, as well as prepares them for those individuals they have yet to meet. Starting with the teacher and student, acknowledging their biases and different viewpoints, then widening that lens is at the heart of one of Reimer's three interdependent dimensions, a positive disposition toward cultural difference and a framework of global values to engage difference. What Reimer refers in his affective dimension is the work that multicultural practitioners have done for decades, toward the same humanistic (not economic) objectives of human rights, equality and mutual respect. The outcome, to paraphrase Reimer, will be world citizenry where students are globally knowledgeable and empathetic.
Empathy comes not only from understanding cultures, the historical and economic underpinnings, but also from the ability to communicate effectively and authentically. Both in Reimer's writing (the action dimension) and the Asia Society piece, second language acquisition is an essential component of global education. As a former middle school world language teacher who switched from a career in international marketing, I shared with students the benefits and value in language proficiency from both employment and personal angles. Former students, now in college and beyond are using their languages in the workplace, and studying to teach languages. One recent graduate heads to Georgetown University this fall to major in Mandarin and Chinese history and politics. These Vineyard students studied Spanish from kindergarten through middle school, with limited language options at the M.V. Regional Public HS. In the U.S. there seems to be reluctance, especially at the earlier elementary grades, to devote time to teach a second language. (in part due to parents' generational experience or lack there of?) The foundation and exposure, the attitude toward world language at earlier years can not easily be caught up by middle school years. I found students at times learned more grammar (for their native English) in my class than their ELA/English class. In fact, I collaborated with the MS English teacher on a poetry unit, timing a Neruda Autorretrato poetry study to coincide with an "I am" unit of similar objectives. By working together, world language and English, history, all teachers can enrich the students' experience on multiple levels. Reimers refers to this as the academic dimension.
We are at a crossroads, here at the corners of Buckingham, Sparks Street and Gerrys Landing. We can cover our ears and shout la-la-la-la-la! hoping this "initiative" will go away, or we can embrace and acknowledge that this is simply good teaching practice, best practice in fact, which encourages us to communicate, collaborate, innovate, and grow, both individually and as a professional learning community. In the process, I believe as we learn from each other, and hopefully learn more about each other, as we travel?!, explore, and open our minds, we will open the minds of our amazing, inspired students to the possibilities of a future even we can not yet imagine. I look forward to our dialogue and remarkable journey ahead.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
I have struggled with how best to respond to the summer readings. While enjoying the readings and trying to respond to the two big questions posed by Rebecca "What implications does globalization have for the programs we offer? What implications does it have for how we teach and how they learn?" I find my reactions and response are defined by my early life experiences (born, raised, and worked in India), traveling extensively overseas, and working closely with people of many diverse cultures.
More recently, over the last 22 years of living and working in Texas, I have often tried to engage other educators in this exact conversation. (Confession: Little successL). So let me begin by expressing how thankful I am to be breathing a 'rare, invigorating air' in Cambridge, the opportunity to work alongside so many talented faculty members at BBNS, and this summer reading assignment, which is both timely and important for me personally.
I have often had this question posed to me, "What is it about the Indian student, (or the Chinese, or the Koreans, etc.) that makes them so successful? Is there a secret?" I responded that there really was no secret. In my opinion it was a determined, disciplined work-ethic, coupled with a family lifestyle that lent itself to successful outcomes. I worked closely with colleagues and clients from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Korea, China, and Japan, besides several groups from western countries. Similar to Daisy's comments, the matter of global competencies was a given. This assignment made me ask why. I believe it is because the people of most Asian cultures live, or interact with global challenges daily; certainly to a far greater extent than most students in US classrooms. They intuitively adapt and respond to daily challenges. When one is forced to share limited living space, or limited resources, you learn to share and assist. You learn patience, and tolerance, and that different does not mean deficient. You work extra hard to remain competitive in the midst of a large, equally competitive population! You develop competencies and a disposition that I believe is being alluded to in the definition.
The definition for global competence provided to us includes the call to educators to 'develop capacity and disposition in our students, to be able to understand and act on issues of global significance.' Developing capacity, I decided, was relatively easier. After several years as a campus administrator, tasked with making decisions on which curriculum resources to adopt, which service projects to offer, and which essential skills to focus on in any given school year, I have come to the conclusion that classroom environments develop minimum capacities at the very least, if we present adequate and appropriate content, that challenges and sufficiently informs students at each grade level. Since there is no teaching without learning, this effort requires that we also provide sufficient opportunity for students to demonstrate knowledge acquisition and application. We must constantly question whether our classrooms are interactive, encourage critical thinking and creativity, support collaboration, and inspire an environment of inquiry, exploration and self-discovery. Do we teach, and provide sufficient opportunity to practice the important life skills of organization, planning, collaboration, time management, budgeting, responsibility, rewards, and consequences?
With regard to the second component of the definition, disposition, I found myself asking "How do we direct teaching and learning opportunities in and outside our classrooms, so we develop in students good habits, and the values of empathy, kindness, sensitivity, compassion and service. I have found this to be a much harder task. I believe in forming good people, not just good students. We are together engaged in promoting not just their intellectual, but physical, social, and emotional well-being, as we prepare them to become well rounded, life-long learners, adequately prepared for a competitive global workforce and marketplace of the 21st century.
Our challenge is to maintain the balance between pursuing innovative learning opportunities that develop these global competencies, and ensuring the mastery of skills and content at, and across, grade levels. At the present time, we have the largest number of unprepared, underprepared, or unsocialized students in classrooms across America. Forming the minds and hearts of students to be confident, compassionate, inquisitive, knowledgeable, and goal oriented can only happen through the daily efforts made inside and outside the classroom. It comes from the standards we set, the ways in which we teach, the opportunities we provide for research and discovery, the coaching and mentoring that happens in hallways or locker rooms, the skills we repeat in drill and practice, and the processes through which we guide students. While most classroom activities promote skill building, knowledge acquisition, and application, I believe that empathy, relationship building, and a 'flexible' respectfulness towards people outside their everyday environment are skills that students do not easily develop. So we must seek out and introduce opportunities that allow them close and meaningful interaction with the larger world, a world outside their own. It is important to remind ourselves that with changing family dynamics, and the full and busy life-styles of families today many students do not get these opportunities at home.
I believe that issues of racism, injustice, intolerance, and bias usually begin at home but must be addressed in the classroom or workplace. Therefore we are also tasked with allowing and leading important, uncomfortable, inconvenient conversations with our students. What we do not confront, we condone. As an avid world traveler I believe in the value of learning foreign languages, and engaging in varied international experiences. Service learning (also mentioned by some colleagues on this blog) cannot be taught. It does not develop though a yearly canned food, coat, or blanket drive, all worthy efforts in themselves. A 'servant heart' develops though seeing, hearing, feeling, and doing. With so much need in our world, often requiring unique, creative, and risk-taking solutions, I often ponder whether we need more compassion or competition! Regardless, the learning process we lead is about transforming learners so they in turn transform their world.
Numerous talented individuals graduate from schools like BBNS, and institutes of higher learning every day. When it comes to success in the global workforce and market place, what puts some closer to, or over the top than others? What causes some students, but not others, to develop the disposition we are concerned with at this time? Let me conclude by calling it a "with it-ness; a sensitivity and sensibility to people and situations…….empathizing, reflecting, responding, and leading, according to the needs of every relationship. An ability to share 'a common language' even without speaking it.
Our challenge therefore is to continue to identify and provide for our students learning opportunities that allow them to grapple with real world challenges they will confront after graduation. I look forward to joining my BBNS colleagues in this effort, and continuing this conversation within, or outside this blog.
Program Director, LS
Like others have said, a lot of the material in these readings was familiar – especially as a former member of the history department. That being said, I thought the Reimers selection outlined the arguments for adopting such an approach quite clearly and in a way that must be accessible to lots of people.
The call for a common purpose continues to be something that speaks to me year after year. Reimer's assertion that schools that don't have a common goal/focus spend time on things that are ultimately disconnected from their values is key. With a common goal, a school can always reflect back on that core value as a guide when trying to answer a question or solve a problem.
The call for global competency to be one of those goals both for an individual institution and for a system-wide group of schools is certainly noble and, I believe, worthwhile. There seems to always be a tension, however, between the reasons for pursuing such a goal. Reimers discusses lofty goals: "invent a future that enhances human well-being" (Reimers p. 200) as well as striving for global peace. On the other hand, Reimers also identifies the goals that sometimes compete for airtime – from creating a national identity to preparing workers for the workforce (Reimers p. 193). The other reading discusses the need for: "…more powerful, relevant, and self-directed learning that will prepare the young to live, compete, and collaborate in a new global scenario." (P. 1) I read this tension as training people to do good and training people to be productive workers. While I desperately hope both goals can be achieved, I think selling the "training kids to make the world better" requires a dash of altruism that I'm not sure I see in the world. I hope Howard Gardner is right that these issues might be overcome by the hopefulness of younger thinkers. I also fear he is right about the American culture at large not being open to truly delving into other cultures. But, as an educator, I remain at least a bit of an optimist. So let's dive in.
Director of College Counseling
But a teacher of history…really.
1) I agree with the thoughts shared by Kelly S., Rachel J. and others
that a greater emphasis on global competencies means a lesser emphasis
on something else we deem less important. The problem is that some of
those things we know in our hearts are less important (standardized
test scores, college admissions) are also easier to
measure/understand/advertise. Are we willing to risk some of that
outward appearance of high status and achievement for something
2) What % of our students take advantage of the many opportunities to
have meaningful experiences (like a Belize trip), and what % choose to
stay within a relative comfort zone of just going to class to get good
grades to get into a good college?
3) A BB&N alum (Alex Pogany '01) manages a local network of farms/CSA
programs. Are we doing anything with that connection? They have a
teen summer program, and one of them in the video (link below) says,
"The Food Project is everything school should be, but isn't!"
Our community rarely experiences the stress of food scarcity, so we
have the privilege of not having to think about where our food comes
from. It's just always there, ready to be purchased in plenty of
stores and restaurants. Still, a heck of a lot needs to happen just
to get, say, a simple slice of pizza from Armando's. Where did the
flour come from? The cheese? The tomatoes? The take out container?
The various spices? Why did they come from there and not some other
place? How much fuel did it take to ship that much food from wherever
to Cambridge? Getting our school involved with CSA could be like
mixing together local/global awareness with agricultural science with
economics and business with saving the world and feeding hungry
people. That's a pretty sweet combination. But it might mean that we
don't simplify as many variable radical expressions or solve as many
absolute value equations. Which actually brings me to my last
4) How can we compare the value of meaningful math that is
immediately and obviously applicable to "useless" more abstract math
when we really don't know what the future will hold for our students?
I don't have to simplify variable radical expressions in my day-to-day
life, but there is a lot of logic involved in being able to do so.
Isn't logical thinking generally applicable to whatever problems our
students end up facing? I go back and forth between thinking this
push for global competency is another phase of our project based
learning push, and thinking that it actually validates teaching those
math topics that do not fit easily into a real-life project or
application. They both have their benefits, and this is not
necessarily an either/or choice, but going back to point 1), we can't
keep adding stuff into the curriculum without taking something out.
Math Department Chair
BB&N Middle School
- Maggie (US Spanish)
As an Academic Technology Specialist at the lower school I am constantly looking for ways to integrate technology in all facets of education,for both students and teachers.
Throughout the reading I found myself making a list of technology tools we can integrate into our classrooms. In the reading, Reimers discusses the importance of developing many engaging "authentic experiences" and how these many experiences help students learn about the world around them. One of these tools is video chatting. What better way to give an authentic global experience than having one on one conversations with students from other states or countries?
I have a little trouble with " teaching global competence", because "globalization" seems too political ( outsourcing?). Thus, the global skills listed in the Asian Society handbook look not very convincing to me. Even though I am a language teacher and involved with an exchange program with China for many years, I seldom consider myself a "global teacher". I would feel more comfortable with a term like " cultural awareness" or " world collaboration" or even " world peace". I think we can't teach " global competence", but we might be able to promote a world tolerance and a cultural respect if we can run a very successful diversity program in our school beyond national boundaries.
Upper School Chinese