It is essential that a 21st century education adequately prepares students to meet the needs of an interdependent world. Today’s fast-paced lifestyles and global interconnectedness show no signs of slowing. For this reason, children must be prepared to grow into adults who can fully engage with the world, at both the local and global levels. This includes a child’s development of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required of a global citizen. As Oxfam’s “Education for Global Citizenship A Guide for Schools” states, education that leads to global citizenship:
“gives children and young people the opportunity to develop critical thinking about complex global issues in the safe space of the classroom. This is something that children of all ages need, for even very young children come face to face with the controversial issues of our time through the media and modern communications technology” (2014, p. 1).
So if it is essential that today’s children be prepared for tomorrow’s world, why is it that educational institutions are not required to approach their curriculum from a greater worldview? Below are five debunked myths related to teaching from a global perspective.
Myth #1 - Global citizenship is an extra subject in an already crowded curriculum.
Reality Check: Global citizenship does not have to occur as a stand-alone subject in an already full school day. Instead, it can be taught as a framework for the study of all subject areas.
Myth #2 - Global citizenship is too difficult to teach to children.
Reality Check: When taught at a young age, global citizenship develops a child’s perspective. As the Development Education Association United Kingdom (2002) puts it: "If young people are to make informed and ethical choices about their futures and how they live their lives now they need to be aware of the global influences that shape these choices. Young people need to be able to make sense of their place in a complex world and move towards shaping that world for the better” (quoted by Bliss, 2005, p.1 ).
Myth #3 - Global citizenship tells people what to think and believe.
Reality Check: Global citizenship is not prescriptive, but rather provides children with a wider lens from which to view the world. According to Cogan and Kubow, “the aim in developing a global perspective is to expand and enrich students’ perspectives, so that their views of the world are not ethnocentric, stereotypical or otherwise limited by a narrow or distorted point of view. If we neglect to nurture a global perspective students are likely to continue viewing the world narrowly through the lenses of their own interests, location and culture"(quoted by Evans and Reynolds, 2003; p 7-9).”
Myth #4 - Global citizenship is covered in geography class.
Reality Check: While an understanding of geography does play a role in global citizenship, few geography classes will adequately cover the topic. Even then, cultural geography is typically reserved for the high school or even college student.
Myth #5 - Global citizenship is about raising money for charities.
Reality Check: While fundraising for worthy causes may be motivated by one’s global citizenship, it is certainly not a prerequisite. Instead, global citizenship involves a deep interest in the greater good and may cause one to explore ways of getting involved in both the local and global community. Global citizens “view the world and its inhabitants as interdependent and work to develop the capacity to act to advance both their own enlightened self-interest and the interest of people elsewhere in the world by understanding the interconnection of all living things (Hanson, 2010, p. 76, Stevens and Campbell, 2006).
Bliss, S. (2005). Growing Global Education and Globalizations in AUSTRALIA, Presented: Pacific Circle Consortium International Conference. University of Western Sydney.
Evans, M., & Reynolds, C. (2003). Introduction: Educating for Global Citizenship in a Changing World. Project Coordinators.
Hanson, L. (2010). Global citizenship, global health, and the internationalization of curriculum: A study of transformative potential. Journal of Studies in International Education, 14, 70–88.
Oxfam, C. H. (2006). Education for Global Citizenship. A Guide for Schools.