Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Intercultural sophistication"

I have read both Fernando Reimers's chapter on "Educating for Global Competency" as well as the excerpts from "Partnership for Global Learning" with interest.  Being a product of three very different cultures as well as a French teacher I have been more than aware of the utmost importance of being able to recognize "the others' and one's own perspectives."  What began over the past 23 years as a timid effort to begin incorporating  authors from the francophone world into our curriculum, has evolved into a year long course covering a large portion of the francophone world--including countries as diverse as Switzerland, Senegal, Martinique, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria as well as French Polynesia and Haiti!  We are so very fortunate at BB&N to be made up of a very diverse student body where we can live a multicultural experience on a daily basis.  However, offering our students the opportunity of learning one or two world languages is, in my opinion, one of the most important gifts we can provide to ensure their future global competency.   Understanding cultural differences has been a project my friend, Gilberte Furstenberg, worked on for 15 years at MIT  with her "Projet Cultura"  Thanks to her students--and their French counterparts at Universities in France-- she was able to  delve deeply into and to give the students a better understanding of what makes the French and Americans different from each other.  It is an eye opening and extremely important educational challenge!

Brigitte Tournier
French department
Buckingham Browne & Nichols

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Building Character

Both readings caused me to reflect on the importance of character education in the 21st Century – something I'm pleased we'll be doing more of at the Lower School this year.  Howard Gardner's quote in the opening pages of Educating for Global Competence stood out as particularly noteworthy: "What is needed more than ever is a laser-like focus on the kinds of human beings that we are raising and the kinds of societies – indeed, in a global era, the kind of world society – that we are fashioning.  [We] … have been studying what makes good persons, good workers, and good citizens, and … in recent years we have sought to go beyond study and nurture these positive qualities in young people."  Reimers also addresses the importance of developing the "attitudinal and ethical dispositions that make it possible to interact peacefully, respectfully, and productively with fellow human beings from diverse geographies." 

An awareness of others – and the ability to collaborate effectively with people from different backgrounds and perspectives – will indeed be a vital skill for the leaders of the future.  In order to educate for global competence, we must equip students with the capacity for positive and productive social interaction.  I agree with the idea that there will be profound "ripple effects" as educators become increasingly mindful of forming these global citizens – individuals who show respect, compassion, and care for all people. 

My third grade students did several collaborative group projects this year in a variety of content areas.  Prior to each project, I asked students to complete a short survey and to indicate (privately) with whom they would like to work.  While reviewing the surveys in order to assign groups, I noticed a trend.  The children who emerged as the most "in-demand" partners were not those who demonstrated the strongest traditional academic competencies; rather, they were the children who consistently demonstrated kindness, who willingly made compromises, and who approached problem solving with creativity, enthusiasm, and resilience.  As we work to help all students develop these skills – so as to become "in-demand" partners and team members in their future careers – we must consider the ways in which we embed character education into content instruction.

In his commencement speech at Dartmouth College (my alma mater), Conan O'Brien shared what has since become my favorite quotation: "If you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen."  I firmly believe that, as we instill strong core values in our students – staying true to our school mission statement – amazing things will happen on a global scale through the efforts of BB&N graduates.

Maura Pritchard, Lower School

Reimers and Gardner

Having read Reimers chapter 14, I agree that we need to prepare students for "global competency".  I felt his most compelling point was that we need to do more to help students  learn to be tolerant and to respect people that are different from themselves.  This was also what I felt Gardner was saying in his last paragraph: ..."we must attend unflinchingly to the kinds of human beings that will inhabit it [the world] and the ways in which they deal with one another under often trying circumstances." I feel we are aware of and we try to teach the other aspects of  "global competency" that he talked about, but I feel we do not do enough directly to try to help our students become better more tolerant people.  We do some, but as the moment arises as we teach, not as a central part of our curriculum.

Margaret Hardy
Buckingham Browne & Nichols
Middle School 
Language Department Head

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reimers article

The primary emphasis of global education in the US seems to have been for an economic advantage or getting a leg up to compete in a global market.  I appreciated the author's explicit explanation of broader responsibilities as global citizens, for example, in terms of the environment by sharing and protecting resources, ethical work habits v. profit/ free trade, service learning...

I am wondering how these issues will be handled on an elementary school level.  Would be valuable to see what we are already doing.  I can think of some examples across the B-6 and would like to learn more.


Lynda Dugas, Morse Building Librarian
Buckingham Browne & Nichols School
10 Buckingham Street
Cambridge MA  02138

Friday, June 21, 2013

Education for Global Competency

The articles highlighted various points about global education and its importance. While reading I thought about the many strengths of BB&N's world language programs; our students have such wonderful and rich opportunities to learn foreign languages, to participate in exchanges, and even to study abroad. As the reading pointed out, these types of educational programs play a crucial part in fostering global competency for our students.

One point of interest: Reimers reminds us that educating for global competence sometimes "competes with alternative purposes." For example, a currently common educational goal has been to educate students for economic competitiveness, so that they can be competitive job seekers in the world economy. Economic competitiveness usually focuses upon improving one's national or regional position in comparison to that of others; it is not compatible with global civility, which is based upon understanding, solidarity, and empathy for others.

I was drawn to this as an interesting, core dilemma. Obviously this can lead us to contemplate global competition, the vast economical disparities which exist worldwide, and to thoughts about our political beliefs, personal values, and world view. On a much smaller scale, I thought about competition at BB&N, and about how it coexists with our school's strong focus upon kindness and empathy. I have been very impressed with the generous and compassionate spirit of the students at BB&N. I also think that the balance of competition and solidarity is delicate, at BB&N and elsewhere.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I found this article with its emphasis on the three A's (attitude, action, and academics) about globalization to be a fair introduction to a somewhat controversial subject.  I agree that more global familiarity with other than one's own language is helpful in bridging gaps.  The misunderstanding about arete in ancient Greek and virtus in Latin, both frequently translated as "virtue," are just one sign how a more nuanced understanding of language can increase understanding.  Both of these ancient words most often refer to the "manliness" of the person described.  The change in values will only come when people truly are educated to understand other cultures.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Art and Global Awareness

These articles support my strong belief that educational institutions rich in art education provide a major framework for global awareness.  Every culture (past, present, and future) produces art in a myriad of forms.  The institutional study of visual art, music, theater, and dance allows us to transcend cultural boundaries (and the barriers of language) by exposing us to forms of expression that we have in common with other cultures.  This can only lead to an appreciation of our differences as well. Art frees the soul, and freeing the soul permits us to be curious, flexible, tolerant...therefore, global in our perspective.  We learn about our own community through the foundation provided by the study of Art.  We learn how to work together, how to appreciate each other's work, how to critique in positive ways- and this translates to tolerance  of other cultures as well.  We are inspired by each other and value each other's differences because of the fundamentals provided to us by the study of  Art.  Exposure to the creativity of others expands our consciousness and contributes to mutual respect.  Art can be (and is) a powerful instrument of peace-it teaches us critical thinking and deductive reasoning.  A strong, integrated Arts program should be the framework for providing future generations a platform for global tolerance.
 An example:  The children of Ben and Maria's Kindergarten class created African Mud Paintings. The children learned about African symbols which were incorporated into their paintings, as well as literature and history.  They experienced working with a medium (mud!) that is not typically used in Western Art.  Not only did their paintings provide a framework for learning about another culture but they saw commonalities with their own. Their paintings contributed to conversation and inspiration for more exploration of  Africa.They also discovered that their art had the power to make  people happy when their mud paintings where displayed for our Morse Building Community.

Maria Lindberg