The Role of the State in Global Education

Executive Summary

The current educational system does not meet the needs of culturally diverse students. The global community is more interdependent and interconnected today than it was twenty years ago. The existing programs fail to provide necessary skills and knowledge on cultural awareness, the importance of cooperation, and collective decision-making. Initiatives to reform the system of education have already been applied in many countries; however, the achieved results are insignificant because there is a lack of adequate commitment and funding by the state. Educators are not empowered to change curriculum without governmental approval.

As the result, the students do not acquire knowledge on cultural and ethnic diversity, they are not trained how to establish cooperative relationships with representatives of diverse cultures, and they are not prepared to become global citizens. There is an urgent need to rewrite educational plans to include global studies into curriculum. Without proper support from the state, these changes are not possible.

Globalization has impacted th a theGlobalization has impacted economic, political, and social life of global community. Distances shrink and global relations are part of everyday considerations. To become global citizens of 21st century, students need to understand their role in the changing world. This objective creates two questions: what are the knowledge and skills needed by students to be prepared for a global community and what is the role of the state in helping students to overcome challenges they will confront. The United States of America, as a culturally and ethnically diverse country, is a perfect example of how students are prepared to become global citizens.

Nevertheless, the state should be more involved in the education system to ensure an emphasis on educating students on global affairs. European and Asian countries, on the contrary, face different problems. More attention should be paid to the diversification of classrooms and the promotion of the idea of global citizenship. The state plays a vital role in the establishment of commitment to the integration of students into a global community and in the provision of necessary educational tools.

As Baubock (2005) has noted, students need to become more aware of the world’s interdependence and complexity and they have to appreciate the differences. It is not a matter of discrimination, though. Students lack the ability to communicate across cultures because there is a lack of understanding of differences. Students, as well as educators, should understand that it is not easy but possible to change attitudes.

The concept of identity and belonging has lost its value to global citizenships. The state possesses a limited capacity to fulfill responsibilities to diverse citizens (Baubock, 2005). In particular, immigration has a contentious impact on education. There are more than 175 million people in the world who live in countries other than their own. Communities become multicultural and transnational (Benhabib, 2005).

Therefore, education programs should be aimed to advance the democratic purposes of education. Personal responsibility, as a part of democratic values and global citizenship, plays a central role. There is an inadequate response of the state to the challenges of educating a democratic citizenry (Kahne & Westheimer, 2004). Today education is focused on individualism and voluntarism, while the need for collective and public sector initiatives is not paid enough attention. From this perspective, global integration is slowed down by volunteerism and kindness which are put forward as ways of avoiding policy and politics.

Schools promote honesty, responsibility for one’s actions, and integrity. Undoubtedly, these qualities are important, however, the state should use the potential to strengthen democracy by fostering students’ willingness to commit to collective efforts. Therefore, in addition to encouraging personal responsibility, such skills as collectivity and collaboration should become a part of education.

Moreover, educators promote the idea of cultural citizenship which is wrong in its essence. The state has failed to address the needs of South Asian Muslim students in American colleges and universities after the attack on September 11th. Most of the immigrant youth have been targeted by the War on Terror and all of them had to grapple with scapegoating demonization of Islam, and fear of surveillance (Maira, 2004). The failure of educators and the state is evident. Even prior to September 11th, South Asian students preferred to socialize with other immigrant youth in the bilingual education program. There was no integration into American culture because American students were not taught about cultural differences and were not provided guidance on how to communicate with representatives of other ethnic and cultural groups.

Traditionally, citizenship is viewed in terms of political, economic, and civil belonging. Maira (2004) provided a new definition of citizenship as a set of behaviors and practices that give meaning to citizenship as lived experience.

There is a lack of understanding of cultural differences among students. Moreover, immigrant youth have to deal with the choice of their parents. As Maira (2004) pointed out, young people grapple with the meaning of the state’s role in their lives and with the implication of violence, racism, war, and ethics of belonging. Educators fail to promote the idea of global integration and global citizenship; cultural differences still shape the idea of belonging. The state should devote more efforts to developing educational programs which deal with cultural diversity and promote the inclusion of diverse students into school and social life.

One of the effective solutions is offered by Erickson, Black, and Seegmiller (2005) who note that traditional school disciplines should occur within the service-learning projects. Students are taught about a world that is apart from them and they have never been invited to become a part of that world. The state should be committed to encouraging educators to promote students’ participation in activities that help them make meaningful connections between themselves and the rest of the world.

Education is a people-intensive occupation (Erickson, Black & Seegmiller, 2005). However, while educators are focused on dispensing information and teaching skills isolated from the human context, students need to be involved in service-learning. The knowledge is dead if it is not applied in real experiences. Students may be taught about cultural differences; however, if they do not have an opportunity to apply the acquired skills, they are not empowered to become global citizens.

As Suarez-Orozco (2005) noted, the work of educators should be tending to cognitive skills, cultural sophistication, and interpersonal sensibility. Globalization creates the need to change education and the state should adjust the system of education to increasing diversity, increasing complexity, the importance of collaboration, and the need to take multiple perspectives on problems. The education of global citizens should be focused on the development of lifelong cognitive, relational, and behavioral engagement with the world. Educators should strive to teach students to become intellectually curious and cognitively flexible, able to work collaboratively in multicultural groups, and able to synthesize knowledge across the disciplines (Suarez-Orozco, 2005). The state should provide educators with the tools necessary to deliver this knowledge to students.

Moreover, the state should pay more attention to the role of education professionals working with kindergarten children and elementary school students. As Ebbeck (2006) notes, teachers should be more proactive and be willing to change their professional practice in many ways. In particular, the curriculum has to become more inclusive to teach children how to survive in the global environment of collaboration. Ebbeck (2006) outlined the following measures:

  1. The state and educators should promote the idea of civil non-violent societies that protect and value human life.
  2. Teachers should work towards diminishing conflict and focusing on peacebuilding through cooperation and collaboration.
  3. Children should be involved into decisions making process and be encouraged to offer their own solutions to problems.

The shift towards institutionalizing global education in the social studies curriculum has already been done. In particular, the global educators throughout the United States are working on creating internationally literary students who, having studied different cultures at work, are able to overcome ethnocentric biases such as discrimination. Cross-cultural awareness is considered to be the most important objective of global education (Scott, 1998).

Therefore, educators should enhance awareness of the diversity of ideas and practices of human societies around the world and promote understanding of these practices. Global teachers should help students to see things from the perspectives of other peoples of the world. The state has to develop new programs to recognize the existence of more than one valid point of view. This goal can be achieved if educators “develop a new mindset about the curriculum of global studies classes and the way it is delivered to students” (Scott, 1998, p. 180).

Current global issues curriculum suffers from the lack of cohesion, is over-reliant on textbooks, and is delivered in rote fashion. As Scott (1998) noted, current education is focused on facts and places while it ignores the contextual dynamics that shape culture and promote social reality. Students experience difficulties with understanding cultural similarities and differences. The purpose of global education should be to provide students with the chance to see others from their own point of view, to inquire into the ways in which ideas and inventions move from one tradition to another, and to experience different cultures as valuable and valid.

Global education is not a new idea in a classroom setting. Such countries as Australia, Russia, Canada, and Japan have already introduced global studies into the curriculum to provide students with better knowledge on cultural diversity and changing society. In Australia, a global education initiative is supported by the government which provides educators with instructional materials. Emphasis is made on human rights, social justice, and the economic and political interdependence of countries (Tye, 2003).

The government provides funds, resources, and training on global education. State education departments are responsible for rewriting the curriculum to reflect the necessity of educating young people for life in a global community. For example, the five new courses are introduced in most of the Australian colleges: Futures, Identity, Thinking, Interdependence, and Communication (Tye, 2003).

Canadian International Development Agency established global education professional development centers for teachers prior to 1995! There is numerous state and non-profit organization which provide workshops and instruction materials on global education to students (Tye, 2003). Nevertheless, the lack of sufficient funding by the government is a challenge that has to be addressed. The emphasis is made on the integration of global perspective into teaching and on increasing awareness of the difference that individual and collective action can make on global issues.

In the early 1980s, the Japanese corporations put pressure on the government to develop programs aimed at education for global competitiveness. This early initiative supported international educational exchanges, promoted international understanding in the curriculum, and called for improved foreign language instruction. Today, the Japanese Council on Global Education promotes global education and produces useful publications (Tye, 2003). Government plays a key role in the Japanese education system because institutions are centralized. The United States-Japan Foundation provides funds to several schools that are developing materials that enable students to learn more about foreign countries.

The situation in Russia is different. There is a nationwide network of global education centers; each of them includes a pedagogical university, a secondary school, and a center for in-service education (Tye, 2003). Centers are funded by the government and are focused on the exchange of teachers and students, on student performances with global content for parents and communities, and on global education. There are several programs that allow students from Russia to come to the United States for educational purposes. Without the legislative, informational, and financial support of the government, these programs would not be established.

Global education is vital in a rapidly changing and interdependent world. Students need to be taught collaboration, tolerance, and awareness, and acceptance of cultural differences. Teachers should be empowered to deliver knowledge on such issues as cultural diversity, human rights, and multicultural communication. The state is responsible for funding and changing the current curriculum in schools, colleges, and universities.

Students are not prepared to integrate into a global community because they lack the knowledge and necessary skills to become global citizens. As the experience of Australia and Japan reveal, the state plays a central role in the establishment of global education programs and organizations promoting global integration and awareness. The first step to being made is recognition of the need to introduce global studies into the curriculum. The second step is the provision of adequate state funding. The final step is emphasizing the development of skills necessary for the successful integration of students into the global citizenry. Globalization is irreversible and the failure of educators to prepare the young generation for global citizenship will have devastating results for the country.

References

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Benhabib, S. (2005). Borders, Boundaries, and Citizenship. Political Science & Politics, 37 (4), pp. 673-677.

Ebbeck, M. (2006). The Challenges of Global Citizenship: Some Issues for Policy and Practice in Early Childhood. Childhood Education Journal, 82 (6), pp. 353-361.

Erickson, L., Black, S. & Seegmiller, D. (2005). Becoming Global Citizens: Disadvantaged Students Reach out to Kids in Hurricane-Ravaged Island. Social Education Journal, 69 (1), pp. 28-33.

Maira, S. (2004). Youth Culture, Citizenship and Globalization: South Asian Muslim Youth in the United States after September 11th. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 24 (1), pp. 221-235.

Scott, T. (1998). Thai Exchange Students’ Encounters with Ethnocentrism. Developing a Response for the Secondary Global Education Curriculum. Social Studies Journal, 89 (4), pp. 177-182.

Suarez-Orozco, M. (2005). Rethinking Education in the Global Era: As the World Becomes Increasingly Interconnected through New Technologies, the Education Systems of Many Nations Will Necessarily Begin to Converge in Their Approaches and Objectives. Mr. Suarez-Orozco Shares His Ideas of What Schools Will Need to Focus on If They Are to Produce Global Citizens. Phi Delta Kappan Journal, 87 (3), p. 209.

Tye, K. (2003). World View: Global Education as a Worldwide Movement. Phi Delta Kappan Journal, 85 (2), pp. 165-170.

Westheimer, J, & Kahne, M. (2004). What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy. American Educational Research Journal, 41 (2), pp. 237-269.