Why Global Education?

In his opening remarks of the 2014-2015 school district, new Palo Alto Unified School District superintendent Max McGee explicitly named the creation of globally competent students prepared to deal with the new globally pressing issues of our times as a top priority of the Palo Alto Unified School District. His remarks echoed those of global education advocates across the world who believe that in a world of flattened global economy and changing demands of work, unprecedented global migration, and climate instability and increased need for environmental stewardship1, we need students who will be equipped to deal with these issues, to be on the forefront of global change and innovation, especially in terms of leveraging the potential of emerging technology to help address the worst consequences of these global issues we face. This priority as put forth by superintendent McGee unites Palo Alto with schools all over the country and the nation who recognize that, in an increasingly interconnected world, it is not enough to simply educate our students to be citizens of their own town, state, or even country.

Global Education is the umbrella term that we use to describe this process of creating globally competent students ready to deal with the pressing issues of our times.

Some more specific definitions, however, may be useful. First, Global Education. According the Council of Europe’s Publication, What is Global Education?it is:

an education perspective which arises from the fact that contemporary people
live and interact in an increasingly globalised world. This makes it crucial for education to give learners the opportunity and competences to reflect and share their own point of view and role within a global, interconnected society, as well as to understand and discuss complex relationships of common social, ecological, political and economic issues, so as to derive new ways of thinking and acting.

So what Global Competencies will students need to be equipped with in order to be able to be globally educated?

The following list of global competencies were taken from Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World, by Veronica Boix Mansilla & Anthony Jackson and published by the Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning, one of the leading international organizations promoting global education. According to the Asia Society, the four Global Competencies students need are:

1. Investigate the world beyond their immediate environment,
framing significant problems and conducting well-crafted and
age-appropriate research.
2. Recognize perspectives, others’ and their own, articulating and
explaining such perspectives thoughtfully and respectfully.
3. Communicate ideas effectively with diverse audiences, bridging
geographic, linguistic, ideological, and cultural barriers.
4. Take action to improve conditions, viewing themselves as players
in the world and participating reflectively.

To provide a voice for why we should be teaching our students to look beyond their own limited perspectives, Chimamanda Adichie, an Nigerian novelist, explains in her TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” the risk of raising children who only see the world from their own limited cultural understanding. Although the video is not short (~19min), it is worth taking the time to watch, and then taking the time to ponder what story we are giving to our students here in Palo Alto. It is my hope that this guide will be a stepping stone for all of us, teachers, parents, and students, to becoming more globally competent, to learning to see many stories in the world around us, and to take action to shape those stories.


In This Guide

Teachers, students and parents at Jordan Middle School have many resources available to them to help globalize perspectives and create 21st century global learners ready to deal with the most pressing issues of our global society. This guide was designed to help connect all of us at Jordan Middle School with the wealth of global education resources available to bring the global into our local classrooms. It leverages both existing resources at Jordan, as well as community resources in Palo Alto and more regional resources in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This guide includes:

1Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World, by Veronica Boix Mansilla & Anthony Jackson

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