Educating Global Citizens

We must foster global citizenship. Education is about more than literacy and numeracy. It is also about citizenry. Education must fully assume its essential role in helping people to forge more just, peaceful and tolerant societies.

– UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, 26 September 2012 at the launch of the Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI)

The 2013 Strategic Plan added two words to the mission statement – “global” and “leading”. The final version reads:

Poughkeepsie Day School develops educated global citizens with a passion for learning, leading and living.

That plan also has as part of its first goal  the concept of cultural competency – the ability to work and communicate across boundaries and frontiers and social and cultural barriers.

That plan also establishes the desired outcomes  of a PDS education one of which is:

Poughkeepsie Day School graduates engaged educated global citizens who think globally with awareness and understanding of complexity and multiple perspectives and who have compassion and empathy, and commit to their communities.

This  means that in an increasingly globalized world we seek to educate people equipped to deal with challenges known and unforeseen and also assess and take advantage of opportunities.

So – what is a global citizen? How is such citizenship developed? And why does it matter?

Here is some guidance from UNESCO –  the UN specialized agency for education, that has education for peace and sustainable development as the overarching goal of its education program with empowered global citizens as an objective.

UNESCO acknowledges that this is not a straightforward matter. The ongoing tensions with the concepts of global citizenship and global citizenship education primarily concern the balance between universality and singularity. That is – the tension between the collective and the individual.

In thinking about what it means at PDS a comparable tension resides in thinking through what we all have in common and must work together on versus the essential uniqueness of the individual we must cherish.

It’s the  fundamental question of balance: How to promote universality (e.g. common and collective identity, community, interest, participation, duty), while respecting singularity (e.g. individual rights, self-improvement).

So as we further define what we mean by “educated global citizen” here’s a definition from the Oxfam (UK). Its Curriculum for Global Citizenship defines a ‘global citizen’ as someone who:

• Is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen,
• respects and values diversity,
• has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally,
technologically and environmentally,
• is outraged by social injustice,
• is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place,
• participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from the local to the global.
Outrage is a strong word. But what are the alternatives? Indifferent to? Or aware of and unwilling to act on the knowledge? That’s not what we need or want. 
We need to be educating children to be at home in their own skins, in their communities and in the world. And then to have the skills and inclination to make a creative contribution, to make a positive difference.
And I rather like this sidebar graphic about what it is, and is not.
Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 7.56.33 AM
There’s a good academic discussion of the concept of global citizenship  here.

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