Going Global Why all schools need an international dimension by Mark Angus Principal The British International School Nanxiang, Shanghai
Educating children for Global Citizenship is naturally something with which international schools are especially concerned. Indeed, it could be argued that having an understanding of global matters is an inevitable consequence of being at school in a foreign country, possibly in a culture vastly different to your own. However, understanding and developing a truly global perspective does not happen by osmosis. International schools need to be active in our promotion of Global Citizenship if we truly want to enrich our pupilsâ€™ lives with values and skills that they can take with them into university, into work and beyond.
Why is Education for Global Citizenship Important? Young people today, whether they are aware of it or not, are directly and indirectly affected by what is going on elsewhere in many other parts of the world. Schools therefore have a responsibility to ensure that its pupils are aware that, in turn, they too can have an effect on the lives of others both locally and globally, and what they can and should be doing to ensure that their effect and influence is as positive and benign as possible. It is important that young people understand that they can influence not only their own lives and well-being, but that their actions impact upon others in the world in a variety of ways they might not ever have imagined. Consider for example the affects
that your consumer choices may have – what are the real costs of buying fake goods, imported food, or taking a car instead of public transport? One of the aims of a Global Citizenship programme is
Young people today, whether they are aware of it or not, are directly and indirectly affected by what is going on elsewhere in many other parts of the world to encourage young people to care about the planet and to develop an active concern for all of the peoples who inhabit it by getting them to ask themselves these types of questions. And being brutally honest about the answers.
Schools throughout the world – not only in the international sector – are now developing Global Citizenship programmes. In the UK, schools can get formal guidance from education authorities on how to add a global dimension to their curriculums, while organisations such as Oxfam, DEA, UNESCO, Local4Global and many others provide support for schools who want to broaden further the horizons of their pupils. In addition, the British Council offers an International School Award for UK schools who are exceptional in this field while Cambridge International Examinations now offer IGCSE and Pre-U courses entitled Global Perspectives. Therefore, it is clear that this new direction in education is a burgeoning and increasingly important part of the 21st century school’s life.
How do we Educate for Global Citizenship? As above, there is a great deal of advice and guidance available for schools that are looking to enhance their curriculum with an international dimension. In Shanghai, we incorporate the best of these approaches and create some of our own as well that are unique to us here in China. Firstly, we work towards adapting the contents of the National Curriculum so that the topics, people and places we explore are more representative of our constituencies and our location. We actively seek, for instance, to include Shanghai and China when we study industrialisation; we look
beyond Europe for our studies of famous people; we look at music, literature and the visual arts from outside of the western canon. This means that our pupils still develop the essential learning skills that
In Shanghai, we incorporate the best of these approaches and create some of our own as well that are unique to us here in China they need (and that their counterparts in the UK are also developing) but in a broader context and with a wider brief. This also encourages our pupils (and staff) to be more adventurous and industrious when it comes to teaching and learning resources,
as these are not so easily and readily available for some of the programmes of study we have created. However, this in turn enhances pupilsâ€™ research skills and leads them to engage more deeply with the topics they cover, as they develop an increased sense of discovery and ownership of their learning. We also see an understanding of current affairs as crucial to promoting a global view of the world and so we subscribe to magazines, websites and podcasts from around the world and provide our pupils with opportunities to watch a variety of news programmes on the internet so that they can explore and question independently what they are told is happening around the world at any given time in any given place.
As well as bringing people from history to life in our classrooms, we also like to bring people from today into them too, in order to enhance our programmes of study, provide our pupils with new and unique perspectives and to give them some insight into the wider world beyond their classroom walls. To this end, we have created a Guest Speaker Programme where prominent people from industry, diplomacy, the arts and our own parent community come in to school to address pupils of all ages on a wide variety of topics – this term, our pupils have learnt about the Chinese legal system, the role of a consulate, how to set up a franchise business, what we can do about climate change and how to celebrate Thanksgiving US-style. We believe very strongly that Global Citizenship means that pupils are exposed to as wide a variety of views, beliefs, professions and hobbies as possible and that part of the global dimension is pupils gaining an understanding of the many various paths that their lives and future careers may take.
We also like to bring the wider world into our school by engaging in events that take place across the globe. For instance, we enthusiastically participated in
Finally, it is important for Global Citizenship to move not only outside of the classroom, but also out of the school, the city and even the country as well Peace One Day on 21 September, a worldwide day of peace observed by all United Nations signatory countries. The organisation behind the movement produces an excellent series of resources, activities and contacts for schools all around the world enabling them to become involved, to make links and to work together to create something for the future. Similarly, we also embrace the opportunities provided by Global Entrepreneurship Week so that our pupils begin to understand
what globalisation means in terms of business and trade. They will have chances – perhaps like no other generation before them - to move into business or industry wherever in the world they see an opportunity and so it is important that they begin to grasp what this may mean for them and their peers in the future. Projects like these – in which our whole school engages, working collaboratively across age and year groups whenever possible – give pupils a sense of belonging to a much bigger community; a community that stretches around the globe. The film that we made and descriptions of our activities can be found on the Peace One Day website, which means that what we do here is on to show to anyone in the world who wants to see it. Similarly, we have taken the work of schools from other countries as role models for our work during Global Entrepreneurship Week. In this way, schools are connecting and engaging with each other, sharing ideas and practice, and helping each other to change and progress.
Finally, it is important for Global Citizenship to move not only outside of the classroom, but also out of the school, the city and even the country as well. We are committed here to engaging with the wider community and to this end we are active participants in the International Award (known as the Duke of Edinburgh Award in the UK). Participants are required to spend time away from home on adventurous journeys, learn new skills, become physically fit and engage in community service – all of which are important elements of having a global perspective. Our pupils therefore are seeing parts of China and other countries they would not normally see, they are discovering independence and responsibility and they are learning how to contribute to the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. We have worked with orphanages, minority and migrant schools, rural schools and schools in disaster zones to do what we can to improve living and learning conditions, and to
understand what we can do to raise standards and aspirations for future generations too. For us in Shanghai, global education is about global responsibility - understanding that what we do now is important, but also that we will do in the future is even more so. This means that we aim for our pupils to be prepared
for the challenges they will face and for them to know that the world is a very big place and that they are just one part of it. We want them to leave us with a sense of responsibility and duty, but also of adventure and inquisitiveness – that, for us, is what Education for Global Citizenship is all about.
useful websiteS: Oxfam; http://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/gc/ DEA; http://www.dea.org.uk/ UNESCO; http://www.unesco.org/en/education Local4Global; http://www.local4global.org.uk/globaldimension Globalgateway; http://www.globalgateway.org/default.aspx?page=5057 Peace One Day; http://www.peaceoneday.org/en/welcome Global Entrepreneurship Week; http://www.gew.org.uk/home
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mark Angus read English and Drama at Flinders University Adelaide and has an MA in Early Modern Studies from King’s College, London. He gained his PGCE in Secondary English from the Open University. He was previously the Academic Deputy Head of Westminster Cathedral Choir School in central London. His interests include literature, theatre, sport, wine and travel.