I hope your winter has started off well. I see you have received some snow and cold weather. It’s been a month since I last wrote as I have been travelling to the US and not visiting schools. In the two weeks back in Europe, I have read quite a bit and visited World Cup ski races.
Among the articles I read, a piece by Harriet Marshall of the University of Bath clarified some trends that I had been seeing. In her article Education for Global Citizenship in Richard Bates’ Schooling Internationally: Globalisation, Internationalisation and the Future for International Schools, Marshall explores the different agendas of organizations calling for a global education. She encourages schools to identify their global education goals as those goals will direct the curriculum. On a personal level, I hear these question a lot: “why is Holderness taking on more international students?” and “does it want a more international program?”
The article points out some different agendas for global education:
- Cosmopolitan values. The increase in the power of IT and easier travel create transnational companies and jobs, as well as connecting people and cultures across the globe.
- Political systems. Organizations such as the UN, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization take a global look at political systems.
- Social Justice. Organizations such as OXFAM look at human rights and reducing poverty on a global scale.
- Environmental sustainability. Organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have global education programs as well.
Undoubtedly, these agendas overlap, but they also can compete with each other.
After I read Ms. Marshall’s article, I went back and looked at some of the global programs that I have studied. There are some clear distinctions.
The IB program (IBO.org) was founded by both transnational companies and by international diplomats. Its mission aims to develop “knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world.” The UN influence is evident in that sentence. The IB also wants “to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment.” Here the IB fits into the goals of transnationals companies. And as I have travelled, I have heard much more of the second goal from IB school people. Schools and parents talk more about the credibility of the academic program and how it opens access to leading universities. These groups see the IB as a door to the high level international social/economic world.
OXFAM is more blunt. Their program for global citizenship includes many of the characteristics of most programs, but they want to develop a global citizen who “is outraged by social injustice.” OXFAM schools are reformers.
The WWF takes an environmental slant when it describes a One Planet School as “a place committed to reducing its impact on the planet here and now; a place which prepares young people to act as drivers for sustainability in the future; a place with a vision of how people and nature can live in harmony, on a thriving, green planet.” (wwf.org)
The Asia Society, based in New York, has a created a Partnership for Global Learning (www.asiasociety.org). It has a three pronged agenda: preparing youth for “the future workforce”, preparing youth “to work successfully in a world of increasing social, ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity,” and preparing youth “for a world of climate and environmental instability.” Like the IBO, social justice is included but is not as prominent in their writings.
Coincidentally, EdWeek emailed an issue today on global education. Here’s an excerpt: “Much of the debate centers on whether the U.S. education system has slipped from a position of dominance, or is holding steady, in areas deemed crucial to economic security, particularly the STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—and so-called 21st-century learning and communications skills.” The view here is more about how to keep the US strong in comparison to other countries, especially from an economic perspective.
At Holderness our strategic planning documents refer, at times, to all of these values; although cosmopolitan values and environmental sustainability appear the most often. (The strategic plan refers to developing “responsible global citizens”) I think we have taken in international students for economic reasons and because, they push our program. International students certainly push our art, math and science programs; and they have also strengthened our soccer, hockey and basketball teams to name a few. I would also say that the financial aid we have granted to international students has opened important doors and is a small but significant step to reduce poverty and improve individual rights.
Going forward, one of Professor Marshall’s main points is that schools should identify their agenda in creating a global education program. A school does not need to cover all facets of a global education, but it should decide upon its focus.
Again, I am interested in any questions or thoughts. Email me or post at jorymacomber.com. Next week, I think I will venture into writing about international sports.