I'm thinking about the start of the schoolyear and how we convey "social context", i.e. citizenship to the kids. Of what social environment, place, construct, village, community are they a part?

First and foremost, the class itself--

Then what? If you radiated outwards in concentric circles, what would be the next? Local community, then...

How do we get to "global community"? Should we? What does that mean?

Here's Nel Noddings on the difficulty of the definition:
"The word citizenship and citizen usually refer to a national or regional identity. One who is recognized as a citizen of a particular nation has the special rights and duties prescribed by the government of that nation. Global citizenship cannot yet be described in this way. There is no global government to which we as individuals own allegiance, and there are no international laws that bind us unless our national government accepts them. Thus, we can't look to the familiar, technical definition of citizenship to help us in describing global citizenship." (Educating Citizens for Global Awareness, 2005)

Here's Stephanie Pace Marshall, on competition and world view:
"Reports are coming out now that focus on the need for students in science, technology, engineering, and math but unfortunately the focus is on 'How can we make sure U.S. kids are as competitive as kids in India, China, Japan, North Korea, South korea, and Singapore?' These concerns are driven by competition. You don't hear a lot of conversations about what we're going to do in math and science so that our kids have the tools to advance the human condition. I would submit to you that the primary grounding should be advancing the human condition. When that's the focus of your scientific, mathematical, and technological work, you're going to have an economic driver because advancing the human condition takes an enormous amount of creativity, invention, and imagination. "
"What has turned off so many kids--especially girls--to science, engineering, and technology is that that we've got to be competitive, we've got to make money. we had to beat the Russians during the Cold War. Now, we have to beat the Indians and the Chinese. We should step back and ask, Why are we trying to beat them?" (article by Amy Azzam in Educational Leadership, "Two Takes on Whole," summer 2007)

What do you think about what those educators said? What perspective should we be aiming for in class with our students?

Tags: 21st+century+skills, Marshall, Noddings, citizenship, global, socialstudies

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I agree Connie. Too little talk about the real goal of education - Happiness. Yes, I let the cat out of the bag but that's it. Not building a nuclear fuel cell or creating a symphony....that is all fine and dandy but what is first and paramount in my opinion, is happiness.

How to achieve this? Well, you have to first have people with the basics of life. Therefore, education as the potential to liberate presides. But once that is done, the words of Summerhill and O'Neill ring in my ear, "I'd rather graduate a happy street sweeper than a neurotic prime minister."

Yes, what is this call for "competitiveness" but really an empty slogan to have and educate children to be consumers, economic lynchpins? Are we an ant hill, building ever and hire. I should hope not and I'm with the Bretonists on this one. Work is great but it is the goal of humanity to liberate ourselves of it. Instead, we seem to be driving ourselves deeper into it. Money, greed, more and more, keep going, going, an ever bigger balance of trade, credit line, more and more....

I think that we should focus on what the Greeks did, what any people did with their young. Education as a moral imperative, a way of enculturating the young into a proper way of being. Moral? Yes. To be kind, to help, to contribute to the whole and not the part. to be supportive and inclusive, to be curious and accepting. Not to get a good grade, memorize and puff up our diploma as we have our ego...

Anyways, I'm pontificating. I'm also deeply satisfied with the present western model of education which is so self serving and "judgemental". It also plays to too many interests and it loses out. Yes, what will happen when we educated ourselves to death? Meaning, we know so much but care so little? And what of the responsibility of us educators, educating a generation which so easily will go to war, not protest, obey , capitulate and allow governments to growl and have us on the precipice of nuclear disaster. What of education when we have presidents (not just in the West) who act like babies and march troops across lands, as widgets to whims? Crazy, and education is in part to blame.....no moral underpinnings at all.

wow, David--there's a lot to think about in what you said. thanks for all the thoughts.

I'm hearing you say about children that we want them to be happy, moral, kind, contributing, caring.

In Five Minds for the Future, Howard Gardner talks about the "respectful mind":
"In a world composed of a few hundred nations, thousands of groups speaking thousands of languages, and more than 6 billion inhabitants, what is a reasonable goal? Clearly, we can no long simply draw a curtain or build a wall that isolates groups from one another indefinitely. we homo sapiens must somehow learn how to inhabit neighboring places--and the same planet--without hating one another, without lusting to injure or kill one another, without acting on xenophobis inclinations even if our own group might emerge triumphant in the short run. Often the desideratum tolerance is invoked, and it may be the case that it is all that we can aspire to. Wordsmiths of a more optimistic temperament opt for romantic language; on the eve of World War II, poet W.H. Auden declared, 'We must love one another or die.' I prefer the concept of respect. Rather than ignoring differences, being inflamed by them, or seeking to annihilate them through love or hate, I call on human beings to accept the differences, learn to live with them, and value those who belong to other cohorts." (Gardner, pg. 106, 2006)

I'm wondering how to gradually ease kids into the perspective of "world community," complete with the dispositions you mentioned: happy, moral, kind, contributing, caring; and Gardner's "respectful mind."

From your perspective as a world-oriented language teacher, and from other CR2.0 people's perspectives (particularly those doing global collaborations), what are simple and concrete ways to build community, a sense of community that transcends previous orientations? (Local and global, both.) I'd especially like to find out ways to build community that work with elementary students. (Within this search for ideas, there's also the question of whether development of sense of community DOES need to start local and proceed outwards in concentric circles, or whether starting on a very broad geographic scale could work, too.) Ideas?
You say a lot of things that endear me to Gardner.

I do think we have to start locally, "cultivez notre jardin". I think America is great at that but I'd love for Americans as a world leader in technology and education to take it a step further. Small things are happening but I really think we need bigger. The world is much more hardened and isolated place than we imagine. The media gives us the wrong impression in my opinion. The world is much more dangerous, much more segregated and nationalistic than many times before.....as educators, it should be our calling to reach out and make this world "truly" smaller. That includes educators getting political. I've always thought that shouldn't be but lately I've changed my opinion. We need teachers as a voice at a political/social level.

It is so strange. You get two people in a room, having coffee and sharing stories and they love each other. Then you get these same people thinking of the other in stereotypes and through the long lense of media/sensation and political intrigue/nonsense and you have "informed" hate. Orwell noticed the same thing/dynamic. You are right Connie, the term of tolerance is where the focus should be. But not just tolerance when it suits us but precisely when it is not easy to do so. That is the rub.

that's why I really had to shake my head about the whole Obama thing. I'm not for or against the guy but our highest politicians should be talking to everybody. He said what is right but was vilified. Ugh? Educators should add a voice of reason, dialogue, equality and "the ordinary" to society through the students they teach. Many are but so many don't get it either. That's why I'm also so hopeful that technology can help. It is a razor's edge for sure but I think the possibility of someone in Tadjikistan knowing about Talahasee, and vice versa, is astounding. But it can't just be for show. Has to be ongoing and sustained, not just a "let's make it this years project" thing. We need the tools set up so this can be just usual/ordinary. That is my hope for the future.

Hi David,
You said, "The world is much more dangerous, much more segregated and nationalistic than many times before.....as educators, it should be our calling to reach out and make this world "truly" smaller. That includes educators getting political. I've always thought that shouldn't be but lately I've changed my opinion. We need teachers as a voice at a political/social level."
I'd be interested in what you mean about "teachers getting political." You aren't talking about talking about who to vote for, are you? It's more about going after principles, which can be thought of as political, right?
I do think a lot of getting to "global culture," "global community" is about modeling. What should we be showing our students, by how we act?

I have a very broad view as to what is political. Politics really refers to the choices we make, how to live. As a person and as a unit/community/culture/society. So I think us teachers can be political, overtly so, if it is in our blood and I admire that. But not necessarily so and there are many ways to skin this cat, make the world a better, safer, more "tolerant" place. Voting is just one political method and too often we don't see that there are so many others.....Just by our example, our interest and passion as educators, we show students there is a way to care about the world and get results.

Change doesn't just have to local first. It happens in a multitude of ways.... My call for educators to be more political is because the debate, the politics (the options of how we want to live, the choices I refered to), has been whittled down into a small dynamic, blinding so many to alternatives of living/life. Young people should know about other ways of existing, living, culture, view, style, work, etc..... But they aren't seeing those at all in today's climate. The debate has been stolen. Educators can be more political by showing these choices to children and using technology for dissent from the powerful forces of conformacy/do as was before. Not just dissent but providing examples of ways of being that students otherwise wouldn't be inspired towards or know of...this is political and transformational. On the other hand and too often, technology is used as a soother, passifier and the young students are tittilated to follow the one mould. An illusion of freedom is applied and they swallow it.

So I think educators really have to fess up that we are in every way , sense and form of the word, "political". We help students make choices, this is as much of the curriculum as the content/skills. We provide the "stuff" but also the choices of action. I think for the most part, the teaching world fails to let students see the choices available, the diversity available.....Why? well, we know the self perpetuating cycle....

How we act is so important. How many of us teachers walk/run to school? How many of us teachers live in the communities we teach in (an act that shows we care, we belong), how many of us educators show students they necessity of protest and "voice" instead of just the "head down, get a good mark" . How many of us educators use technology in the classroom to show students diverse ways of thinking/being? This is our challenge.

Have you read much Freire? His emphasis not just on content but action, informed action. Here's a basic link for those who might be interested in this great man.

I'm really scared of a world where governments allow military recruiters in schools and on student networks but bawk at and filter a community like NING. Where young kids get paid 20,000 dollar sign up bonuses to learn to shoot and kill and many schools don't even have one laptop. I'm really scared of the level of fear in each and every one of us, this fear that allows us to just let the world be as it always has been....




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