Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Global First Grade

Last year, I found myself paralyzed by the task of teaching about "Mexico", which is historically a Social Studies unit taught in first grade. How could anybody teach about an entire country...and where do you even begin...and how do I make any generalizations without stereotyping...and what was the point? Maybe some of you have felt the same way before. 

After reading "Educating for Global Competence" I feel less paralyzed. First of all, I needed to realize that Mexico is not a unit, in first grade or 12th grade. We could research the Charles River, why cities are next to rivers, and make a meaningful connection to people in Mexico to learn about a city on a river in Mexico, like Mexico City. For example.

This gets me thinking about how schools decide how to assign units or areas of study in the first place. I can presume that other grades study other regions with the hope of nurturing a world view as students pass through the years. But it's tricky. How do you assign regions to study, but keep units fresh and challenging and relevant? Should it be more organic? Should I have more of a choice? If it were left to teachers' choices, might certain areas be overlooked? How do we prevent that?

Part of the challenge of my Mexico unit was trying to figure out what to teach. I consulted colleagues, but was left wondering, do teachers at an independent school need content standards? Do I use the Massachusetts standards? Do I make up my own? Again and again, "Educating for Global Competence" referred to standards in order to demonstrate how the projects delivered valuable content. Not to mention, they were relied up for assessment. 

In summary, might we BB&N teachers be better served by standards...rather than general assignments like "Mexico"? Or some combination of the two? Would this infrastructure change support our task in education global citizens?

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