Expatriate Lifestyle - Essentials Education - - Contents - WORDS RO­HAN YUNG PHO­TOS IS­TOCK­PHOTO

What does it mean to be a global cit­i­zen and why is it in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a buzz­word in sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion?

Sec­ondary schools place an em­pha­sis on global cit­i­zen­ship. Ro­han

Yung un­packs what the term re­ally means in or­der to help you make bet­ter de­ci­sions about which schools and which cur­ric­ula are

ap­pro­pri­ate for your chil­dren

Par­ents who dili­gently read through school prospec­tuses will of­ten bump up against men­tions of ‘global cit­i­zen­ship’.This phrase en­cap­su­lates a very im­por­tant group of ed­u­ca­tional con­cepts. How­ever, the cen­tral ideas need to be picked apart and lar­i­fied so they do not ade into mean­ing­less­ness un­der the weight of a re­peated catch­phrase. Mak­ing sense of the term will help par­ents un­der­stand why schools place such an em­pha­sis on global cit­i­zen­ship. And this un­der­stand­ing will in turn help par­ents make bet­ter de­ci­sions about which schools and which cur­ric­ula are most ap­pro­pri­ate for their chil­dren.

One ba­sic tenet to global cit­i­zen­ship ed­u­ca­tion is that in­ter­na­tional-mind­ed­ness should be wo­ven into the DNA of any mod­ern school­ing. Af­ter all, glob­al­i­sa­tion is hurtling in­evitably on­ward. So­cial and cul­tural links con­tinue to tighten due to the in­ter­net and to travel and mi­gra­tion; eco­nomic in­ter­con­nect­ed­ness gath­ers pace; and en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems af­fect ever larger swathes of peo­ple across bor­ders. So many pres­sures make it nec­es­sary for peo­ple to en­gage more closely with other cul­tures and na­tion­al­i­ties. As a con­se­quence, the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of school-go­ers will need to be equipped with the knowl­edge and skills to nav­i­gate this shrink­ing world.

It is at the sec­ondary level that glo al iti en­shi ed ation ta e ight. Pri­mary stu­dents can learn some of the ba­sic facts about the world and can prac­tice val­ues of in­clu­siv­ity and ap­ply some foun­da­tional skills of per­sua­sion. How­ever, sec­ondary stu­dents will have more of the req­ui­site ma­tu­rity to bring all the many rel­e­vant as­pects of the topic to­gether. Global prob­lems de­mand a holis­tic ap­proach: there has to be an el­e­ment of in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary en­quiry.

There must also be a will­ing­ness to ques­tion un­der­ly­ing as­sump­tions. The teenage years are ex­actly the right time for this sort of in­tel­lec­tual ex­er­cise since this pe­riod is when young adults be­come more crit­i­cal about re­ceived wis­dom, be­come more self aware, and are nat­u­rally driven to seek out wider com­mu­ni­ties.

Teach­ing global cit­i­zen­ship is all about fram­ing a par­tic­u­lar ethos. It is help­ful to iden­tify im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion ar­eas and rel­e­vant skills; but the cru­cial goal still has to be that of form­ing a well-rounded hu­man be­ing. It is all about the big pic­ture. As Ban Ki-Moon, Sec­re­taryGen­eral of the United Na­tions, puts it:“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.”

Schools com­mit­ted to nur­tur­ing global cit­i­zens have to be pur­pose­ful in mar­shal­ing their re­sources.This ed­u­ca­tional project star ts with a clear def­i­ni­tion o hat glo al iti en­shi means to a par­tic­u­lar school.

Pauline Grad­den, Deputy

Head of Sec­ondary at the Bri­tish In­ter­na­tional School of Kuala Lumpur (BSKL), says that at her s hool e de­fine glo al iti en­shi as a way of liv­ing that recog­nises our world is an in­creas­ingly com­plex web of con­nec­tions and in­ter­de­pen­den­cies, one in which our choices and ac­tions may have reper­cus­sions for peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties lo­cally, na­tion­ally or in­ter­na­tion­ally.” She goes on to ex­plain the ur­gency of im­part­ing ideas about global cit­i­zen­ship to BSKL stu­dents: “We be­lieve that they are global lead­ers of the fu­ture and it is our duty to en­sure that they take on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of mak­ing the world a more eq­ui­table and sus­tain­able place.”

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


Ban Ki-Moon, Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral of the

United Na­tions

The next step is to make global cit­i­zen­ship a shared mis­sion across the whole school, both in the class­room and be­yond.

At Mont’Kiara In­ter­na­tional School, Kelly Gil­more (In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate Co­or­di­na­tor and

Di­ploma Pro­gramme Con­sul­tant) notes that the In­volved Cit­i­zen is one of the fi e e e ted s hool ide learn­ing re­sults (ESLR). An In­volved Cit­i­zen is char­ac­terised, among other things, by ‘in­ter­act­ing re­spect­fully with peo­ple of di­verse cul­tures’ and ‘demon­strat­ing aware­ness and re­spect for the rights of oth­ers’. The power of el­e­vat­ing the In­volved Cit­i­zen to an ESLR is that les­son-plan­ning and school cul­ture can all be an­gled to­wards this goal; it can serve as a guid­ing light.As Ms Gil­more ex­plains, global cit­i­zen­ship thus be­comes “em­bed­ded in the writ­ten and taught cur­ricu­lum” and be­comes “vis­i­ble in ev­ery class­room”.

When schools have set­tled on lear def­i­ni­tions and ri­or­i­ties they an then take the next step, which is to work on trans­mit­ting their prin­ci­ples. In other words, schools have to move

Stu­dents will learn how to be ac­cept­ing of dif­fer­ence, to be com­mit­ted to equal­ity, to value com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion, and to be flex­i­ble with and crit­i­cal of their own as­sump­tions”

from ideals to ac­tual teach­ing prac­tice.

One es­sen­tial as­pect that has to be con­sid­ered is that of im­part­ing val­ues. Stu­dents will have to learn how to be ac­cept­ing of dif­fer­ence, to be com­mit­ted to equal­ity, to value com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion, and to e e i le ith and riti al o their own as­sump­tions. Within the class­room, th­ese val­ues can best be ex­plored by vig­or­ous de­bates and dis­cus­sions. Testing their ideas in such a fo­rum will help stu­dents to de­velop the habit of in­tro­spec­tion; they will be­come more aware of their own cul­tural prej­u­dices and bi­ases.

Be­yond the cur­ricu­lum, the sheer fact of in­ter­act­ing with a range of dif­fer­ent cul­tures will also lead to an un­der­stand­ing of key val­ues. In­ter­na­tional Schools are par­tic­u­larly well-suited to this sort of cul­tural ex­change. Ms Gil­more from M’KIS notes:“Our com­mu­nity has a very rich cul­tural di­ver­sity - com­posed of over 60 dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties. Sim­ply be­ing part of the M’KIS com­mu­nity in­duces a process of ac­quir­ing and de­vel­op­ing in­ter­na­tional-mind­ed­ness.”

An­other value that schools pro­mote is a will­ing­ness to take ac­tion. This readi­ness should be tied with a be­lief in the power of the in­di­vid­ual to make a global dif­fer­ence through lo­cal ac­tion.The In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate (IB) Di­ploma Pro­gram ac­tu­ally makes it es­sen­tial for stu­dents to take so­cially-re­spon­si­ble ac­tion be­cause of the CAS (Cre­ativ­ity, Ac­tion, Ser­vice) com­po­nent, where stu­dents might take part in char­ity projects.

As far as the con­tent of a global cit­i­zen­ship ed­u­ca­tion is con­cerned, the main chal­lenge is to make the for­bid­ding di­ver­sity of ma­te­rial more ap­proach­able.The last thing teach­ers want to do is to over­whelm stu­dents with an avalanche of de­tails about far ng ar­eas. lasses ha e to e lanned so that top­ics main­tain their rel­e­vance to the stu­dents’ own worlds. Links have to be drawn be­tween sub­ject mat­ter and per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences.

At BSKL, the GCSE cur­ricu­lum is con­sid­ered in the light of the Malaysian con­text. Ms Grad­den of BSKL shares: “World War 2 fea­tures heav­ily in the Bri­tish his­tory cur­ricu­lum and there are many op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­cor­po­rate both the in­volve­ment of Malaysia and the im­pact war had on Malaysia into our stu­dents’ learn­ing. Malaysia is also a great place to study geog­ra­phy and BSKL stu­dents are for­tu­nate to en­joy field tri s to ri h en iron­ments li e FRIM, Langkawi and Tioman.”

The skills that can po­ten­tially be ac­quired from a global cit­i­zen­ship ed­u­ca­tion are con­sid­er­able. For one thing, there is no avoid­ing the cen­tral­ity of lan­guage learn­ing. In­ter­na­tional schools in Malaysia are well equipped to teach not just lo­cal lan­guages, but also a raft of other wellestab­lished world lan­guages.The broader con­cern, of course, is that stu­dents learn to com­mu­ni­cate more ef­fec­tively. Some ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties are par­tic­u­larly suited to cul­ti­vat­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills; chief among them is Model United Na­tions, where stu­dents prac­tice how to ne­go­ti­ate thro gh on i ts.

In the end, stu­dents who have learnt how to think and act on a global scale are those ho are most li ely to o rish in the con­nected fu­ture. Par­ents would th s e ell la ed to a ly a fine grained un­der­stand­ing of the buzz­word phrase of ‘global cit­i­zen­ship’ in se­lect­ing the right school for their chil­dren.There is an ex­cit­ingly di­verse world out there for those who are ready for it.

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