Global Education-what IS it?

from NGV exhibition

from NGV exhibition


Global education is a concept with a diverse number of understandings.  Even the term ‘global education’ has different viewing platforms from global learning to global competencies from global citizenship to education for sustainable development.

In some parts of the world, global education is viewed as learning by connecting with others using technology.  According to my experience, this is, by far, the perspective assigned to the term in the United States of America.  It falls short of the vision and framework required to understand and act on issues of global significance.

With a deeper synthesis of theory and practice, global education is a response to engage learners in issues critical to understanding their communities, their world and their future. This cannot be done by simply (or with technological difficulty) connecting learners across the globe.  There must be purpose for the technology connection.

I want to take this concept further, offering Australian and international examples.

In Global Perspectives: A framework for global education in Australian Schools Commonwealth of Australia, 2008, Global Education “promotes open-mindedness leading to new thinking about the world and a predisposition to take action for change. Students learn to take responsibility for their actions, respect and value diversity, and see themselves as global citizens who can contribute to a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. Enabling young people to participate in a better shared future for all is at the heart of global education.”

In Australia, the Curriculum sets out the core knowledge, understanding, skills and general capabilities important for all Australian students. It describes what all young Australians are to be taught as a foundation for their future learning, growth and active participation in the Australian community. There is congruence between global education and the Curriculum although it could be enhanced with more explicit activities to allow learning outcomes to be more easily identifiable.

The Melbourne Declaration of 2008 stated, “All young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens who are responsible global and local citizens”

The Asia Society and Council of Chief State School Officers talk about Global Competencies to improve the education of children by better supporting the development of their higher order thinking skills and their ability to apply these skills effectively to a broad range of problems. It is, in part, these skills that will enable children to invent and contribute to the new world.

We take a name shift and, in 2004, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation launched its decade for Education for Sustainable Development which has as its focus, the goal of every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future.  Education for sustainable development…challenges individuals, institutions and societies to view tomorrow as a day that belongs to all of us, or it will not belong to anyone. (UNESCO Education sector).  During this period, the United Nations also released The Global Education First Initiative related to education about the Millenium Development goals and, in particular, the goal about education.

After 2015, The Millenium Development Goals will morph into The Sustainable Development Goals giving headway for global learning to take a directional terminology shift to Sustainable Development.  I see Sustainable Development as our number one learning priority.  I have written about this in my posts Education for Sustainable Development part 1 and  Education for Sustainable Development part 2.

Education for sustainable development is not just about using 21st century learning tools to engage learners and engage with learners across the globe. It’s about preparing our learners to take their place as informed, skilled and active global citizens; to think critically about issues of food security, population distribution, water cooperation, ethical consumerism, human rights, social justice, identity, cultural diversity, interdependence, globalisation, environmental sustainability, breaking the poverty cycle, social technology, socially responsible trading, economical sustainability, sustainable farming and agricultural practices, health and human development, peace, conflict resolution and getting on with others. The future of this planet lies with globally educated learners.

We are now challenged because ways to conceive content for Sustainable Development with its broad coverage of learning areas/disciplines are neither traditional nor mainstream. Building a systematic and cohesive program from Early Years to Year 10 requires a whole school overview and focussed leadership. Its importance cannot be overestimated.

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