As educators (and parents), we cannot expect our students and graduates to be globally competent if we do not adopt a global mindset ourselves. The appreciation of people from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and the extent to which we embrace knowledge, understanding, and problem solving from our international brothers and sisters, starts with us. This mindset is critical for attaining global proficiency. As a matter of fact, the strength of our world depends on it. So how do we embed these same principles in our schools? We can start with the five foundational “I’s” of global competence:
1. International Mindedness: It is our job to expose students to global events and prospectives. Since physically traveling to other countries is expensive and not always feasible, figurative means of travel is another option. This includes the Internet (social media, blogs, podcasts, webinars, websites, etc.), articles, research, books, pictures, movies, documentaries, stories, food and music. Students must experience “learning with the world, and not just about it” (iEARN-USA, 2016) if we expect them to connect internationally.
These resources support International Mindedness:
- The Global Education Conference Network is a community of teachers/educators, students, and organizations working together for global competence. http://globaleducationconference.com
- iEARN empowers teachers and youth to engage in collaborative projects that are worldwide. https://iearn.org
2. Interdisciplinary Projects: Students increase their ability to think critically, problem solve in more than one context, and make connections within and across content when they are taught from an interdisciplinary lens. Why is this necessary? We want students to build their capacity in transferring and applying knowledge locally and globally. This is easier to accomplish when students are taught how to synthesize information from multiple disciplines and connect the relevance to a global audience.
These resources support Interdisciplinary Projects:
- Facing the Future equips educators with standards-based resources and curriculum on global issues. Students are prompted to think critically as they develop global perspectives and solutions. www.facingthefuture.com
- Project for Awesome inspires community members from around the world to make videos about a charity that is particularly meaningful for them. These are uploaded and shared on the Internet, viewed, discussed, and commented upon by people around the world. www.projectforawesome.com
3. Inquiry: Curiosity is the heart of education. Those who want to know more ask more questions and seek more answers. The ability to compete globally constitutes a desire and yearning for more information that is grounded in multiple sources, perspectives, and the world community. It is difficult to raise global awareness and stimulate the brain when students are not asking questions. Just as teachers must facilitate cognition and inquiry, students must learn to initiate their own inquiry.
These resources support student Inquiry:
- Explore the pros and cons of controversial issues that have global relevance. Every issue starts with a core question that generates additional questions for categories related to that issue. For example, “Is drinking milk healthy for humans?” www.milk.procon.org and www.procon.org
- Explore lots of resources pertaining to project-based learning and global inquiry. http://www.pearltrees.com/andreakerr/pbl-global-inquiry/id6756207
4. Innovation: If inquiry is the heart of education, then innovation is the soul of education. Innovative people and organizations impact economic, social, technological, cultural, pedagogical, and/or scientific outcomes. When we think about the world’s most influential people (i.e., Alan Greenspan, Jean Piaget, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Cornell West, Dr. MLK, Jr., Mother Teresa, Catherine Johnson, Oprah, Michael Jackson, Jay Z and countless others), their innovative skill set and vision is transformative. There is much to learn from local and international innovators. Furthermore, students increase their ability to advance in society, create change, and compete in a world market when they adopt an innovative mindset.
These resources support Innovation:
- Learn what 41 of the most innovative K-12 schools in America are doing.
- Learn what 13 of the most innovative schools in the world are doing
- Make roller coasters, pipe cleaner towers, earthquakes and volcanoes, batteries, ice cream and more, along with 200 other activities through The Engineering Place, a program founded in 1999 by NC State University. https://www.engr.ncsu.edu/theengineeringplace/educators/k8plans.ph
5. Integrity: Integrity is our moral code and obligation to engage in scholarly activity with an open, honest, and responsible mind. When educators and students approach learning with academic integrity, there is more respect for ingenuity, rights, and property of others. According to Price-Mitchell (2015), integrity is about courage, honor, and respect in one’s daily interactions – and doing the right thing even when no one is watching. This type of honor and respect sets a precedent for global communication, collaboration, and problem solving. An environment is created where it is safe to adopt, adapt, and admire the actions and efforts of a local and global community.
These resources support Integrity:
- Marilyn Price-Mitchell’s 5 Ways to Increase Integrity can be found at http://www.edutopia.org/blog/8-pathways-creating-culture-integrity-marilyn-price-mitchell
- Teach students that character counts through the Giraffe Heroes Project, an organization that finds and commends real heroes around the world for “sticking their necks out for the common good.” www.giraffe.org
The purpose of the five “I’s” is to transform students’ lives by introducing them to topics, ideas, projects, challenges, and solutions that prepare them for global competence. Student exposure to universal concepts, diversity, and humanity elevates consciousness and creates a voice to address global issues. Student perceptions of the world are expanded and broadened beyond their immediate classroom or environment. Let’s empower our youth to understand and act on the world’s greatest challenges by exploring and embracing global issues such as health, human rights, education, technology, peace, and economic prosperity. Taking It Global – www.tigweb.org – is a step in the right direction. Students must learn to appreciate the bigger world and its cross-cultural similarities and differences. This is the type of global citizen that every student (and educator) should aspire to be.