Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer reading musings

As many of you, I too found the readings interesting. Particularly, because I had a chance to visit an elementary school during my visit to Mexico (school started last week!). As I spoke to teachers and compared notes on teaching, kids, and the role that education plays in the formation of society and other things, many of the conclusions we came to were echoed by the readings. Many of the skills Reimer proposes as necessary, are skills that many caring and engaged teachers are thinking about not just in the USA but other places as well. What was obvious to me during my visit, was that while individual teachers are willing and interested in exposing their students to experiences that can widen horizons and lead to the acquisition of the "affective, action, and academic dimensions" of global competencies, resources can severely limit what a teacher is able to accomplish. 

I agree that it is important that our students become more empathic, interested in and invested in the world around them. The fact is that many of our kids have had the chance to travel and experience other cultures and countries. Many have been exposed to other ways of doing things, languages and have had opportunities to be immersed in other cultures. All of those experiences are valuable in creating an interest and engagement in the world. But, if we are interested in helping them understand some of the world's problems, I would like to make sure that they are exposed to other kids that are not in the same socio-economic status both locally and internationally. Exposing the kids to similarly positioned students (economically speaking) even across different countries via technologies like Skype and video conferencing, is fun and can be a learning experience, but ignores the wide situation that most of the world faces today - poverty. I think that my questions after reading Reimer's proposals for global competencies, are...

How do we promote global competencies globally, particularly if there are limited resources around the world?

For example, last year, during the first grade study of Mexico, the first graders at BB&N held a Skype session with the school in Mexico that I paid a visit to this summer. Kids prepared questions, and were excited to learn first hand from their counterparts how they viewed their daily life. One of the "difficulties" we had when corresponding, and establishing a relationship with this other school was their limited technology. While they could see us, we could never see them because of the internet connection that was provided was from the state did not allow video streaming. This actually prompted the kids to ask even more questions and sparked a desire and curiosity to know more about the kids in that school. My hope is that we continue this relationship with the school, can evoke curiosity, empathy and passion for a place we can't even see, and provoke action from our students to help their new found "amigos."

I look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow!
Maria Elena Derrien
LS Science

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