If you asked yourself what education is for, what would your answer be? Many people might say that its purpose was to develop a well-rounded child, to enable children to get on well with others, to be curious about the world, and to have a positive self-image. However, it is easy to forget the importance of these things if there is an over-emphasis on passing examinations and boosting school league table positions.
Clearly, it is essential that children reach their own potential, but co-operation is a more useful life skill than competition in developing Global Citizens.
Young people are our future, but they are also our present. They are interested and concerned about what is happening in the world, and in their lifetimes could make a difference to the inherited problems they face. However, we cannot leave it to our children to sort out all the difficulties.
As adults - teachers and educationalists - we can take the responsibility to begin the process of change. We can provide an education that will furnish children with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enable them to see that the issues of the world are issues for them. Such an education is in line with current government thinking, and is exciting and relevant for young people. It is important not to lose sight of this in the face of overwhelming demands on the curriculum.
Global Citizenship must be at the heart of education. This is because it is good education, as well as for the following reasons:
- The world we live in is unfair and unequal, and Global Citizenship promotes the challenging and changing of this … more
- We live in a diverse society, and Global Citizenship gives children the tools to counter ignorance and intolerance within it … more
- Global Citizenship enables the challenging of misinformation and stereotyped views that exist about Majority World countries … more
- Global Citizenship is exciting and relevant to children … more
- We live in an interdependent world, and Global Citizenship encourages us to recognise our responsibilities towards each other … more
- We live in a rapidly changing world and Global Citizenship is about flexibility and adaptability as well as about a positive image of the future … more
- Global Citizenship acknowledges that we have the power as individuals: each of us can change things, and each of us has choices about how we behave
- Central to Global Citizenship is the importance of learning from the experience of others, both in our own society and beyond it … more
- Teaching approaches used to promote Global Citizenship have a positive impact on pupils and can raise standards … more
- The world we live in is unfair and unequal, and Global Citizenship promotes the challenging and changing of this.
There is injustice and poverty within and between societies. In Britain, poverty has been cited as a cause of underachievement at school, as well as physical, emotional and social damage (Guardian, 14 Sept, 1999). Globally, there are many shocking statistics to illustrate inequality.
The 1998 Human Development Report from the UN stated that the amount people in Europe and North America spend a year on pet food, cosmetics and perfume ($37 billion) would provide basic education, water and sanitation, basic health and nutrition to all those without those things, with $9bn left over (UNDP, 1998).
We live in a diverse society, and Global Citizenshp gives children the tools to counter ignorance and intolerance within it.
Ignorance and intolerance take many forms. Attitudes of empathy and respect for diversity, as well as skills of co-operation and negotiation, are essential to combat the prejudice and discrimination currently alive and kicking in our society.
Global Citizenship enables the challenging of misinformation and stereotyped views that exist about Majority World countries.
There are many generalisations, assumptions and half-truths in the public domain especially, although not exclusively, about Majority World countries. Unbiased learning requires critical thinking - a key element of Global Citizenship.
Global Citizenship is exciting and relevant to children.
An unpublished survey by Oxfam Education showed that the majority of primary school children approached had an interest in and awareness of local and global issues. The children had some very practical ideas as to how they could change things in the future, for example:
- walk instead of going in the car;
- lobby the council for local changes;
- buy more things in charity shops;
- try to think what it would be like if you didn't have enough to eat;
- be more friendly to others at school;
- watch the news so you know what is going on in the world
- We live in an interdependent world, and Global Citizenship encourages us to recognise our responsibilities towards each other.
There are many similarities and links between people across the globe, not only in terms of personal needs and aspirations, but also regarding communications and trade. How far can you send an e-mail? Where have the tasty items in your kitchen cupboards come from?
We live in a rapidly changing world and Global Citizenship is about flexibility and adaptability as well as about a positive image of the future.
If children are to hope for a fairer and safer future, they need a clear vision of what this would look like, as well as the means to attain it. As Professor Patricia J. Williams, of Columbia University said, when she gave the 1997 Radio 4 Reith Lectures on 'The Paradox of Race' (1997: 14):
"I do think that to a very great extent we dream our worlds into being ... an optimistic course might be charted, if only we could imagine it."
Global Citizenship acknowledges that we have power as individuals: each of us can change things, and each of us has choices about how we behave.
- speak up against injustice and discrimination;
- bank with an ethical investor;
- reduce waste - refuse unnecessary packaging, reuse and recycle as much as possible;
- buy Fair Trade products;
- become activists - take encouragement from the genetically modified (GM) foods debate: the Iceland supermarket chain banned GM foods after investigations prompted by six letters from a church group in Blackburn.
Central to Global Citizenship is the importance of learning from the experience of others, both in our own society and beyond it.
There are numerous examples of Global Citizenship in the UK and all over the world. A whole village in Orissa, India, became involved in a Sustainable Development initiative. This is a notice from the headquarters of the initiative (Hampshire CC Education 1997) that might inspire us all!
"What we spend on building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you will get kicked. Give the world the best you have anyway.
The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway."
Teaching approaches used to promote Global Citizenship have a positive impact on pupils and can raise standards.
Four aspects of this are as follows:
1. The principles, ideas and activities on this site cover much of the inspection criteria for schools, especially in the areas of quality of education, raising educational standards and pupils' values, attitudes and personal development.
2. Research by Stephen Scoffham (1999) suggests that children's attitudes about Majority World countries can be affected in a positive way through education.
3. Active teaching methods such as enquiries, drama and simulations are particularly successful in promoting learning (Fisher and Hicks, 1987).
4. Research by Lynn Davies at Birmingham University (1999) showed that the involvement of pupils in decision-making systems, such as in school councils, could lead to a drop in exclusion levels where the school ethos supports democracy and equity and values both pupil and teacher performance and welfare.