Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Local Citizen becomes the Global Citizen

While the assertions of both Reimers and The Asia Society that students need to be prepared for a changing world are very well-founded, I wanted more of a discussion about scope. The sample lesson plans in the Asia Society piece that seemed most memorable and influential were the ones that had students out in their own communities, rather than engaging on a more theoretical or technologically-mediated level with far-away ones. I do not deny that cross-cultural connections can be extremely meaningful, but in my experience those students that are given the opportunity, encouragement, and time for projects that force them to meet people in their own neighborhood will learn compassion and tolerance that can be carried and translated. As the world becomes more migrant and disconnected through 'connecting' technology, what is being lost is a sense of home. Where are we from? What did we learn there? If we want students to be better global citizens and environmental stewards, as Reimers tells us we must, and I agree, it starts here, in town. 

The difficulty seems to be that this kind of move outside of the classroom comes at the cost of other 'material' we expected to cover. I was not surprised to read in the Asia Society piece how reticent most people are to consider radical changes in our education system. I admit that when I read that I cringed to think of the study of literature going by the wayside, but that's not exactly what it was saying. It's hard to imagine reframing the way we educate on a large-scale (the whole school system) to change with the demands of a global economy, but I wonder if someday the question, "what's your favorite subject?" will become obsolete. 


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