No passport? No problem! Global thinking and cultural competence are not about where you’ve been.
Have you ever been in a box store like Ikea and had the thought “Gosh, right now, I could be in any city in any country at any time of day”? Have you ever read the “Made in” tag of a product and wondered how the good made it from there to your hands? Geographic boundaries don’t define or restrict us anymore.
Now consider our education world. Does your student roster look like a delegation from the United Nations? Does your fresh-semester preparation include learning greetings and keywords in the additional languages of your students and their families? Have you debated with colleagues over whether or not the term “global citizen” is positive or negative?
Every time I meet a fellow educator who reads, researches, writes, or teaches about global thinking and cultural competence, we push one another’s ideas into fresh contexts much like a kid pushes Play-Doh through an extruder. Do our concepts hold up when pressed against exceptional circumstances? Is the consideration universal or does it require specific parameters?
In a recent conversation with colleague and author, Hillary Parkhouse (enjoy one of her blogs here), she reminded me that our work in the area of globally competent pedagogy is focused on the classroom, not airplane ticket or travel visas. We explored the importance of creating learning spaces that reflect multiple perspectives and diverse thinking and spotlighted the strategies for addressing curricula that need to be integrated. Even though it’s difficult to measure progress in global competence, it’s still important to make those assessments. Most of all, we practiced what we preach about engaging in conversations and collaborations that bring different viewpoints into the light.
One of the books Dr. Parkhouse co-authored, Becoming a Globally Competent Teacher, serves as the basis for one of my recent Continuing Education Courses at Teaching Channel called An Educator’s Guide to Global Thinking and Cultural Competence. It’s for teachers who understand the importance of global thinking and cultural competence and who want to growth their instructional toolbox. While I have a number of “go to” places for CRT reads (like the blogs here, for example), I’m aware that teachers need support creating powerful lessons, building strong curriculum, and locating quality resources (like this book list) that represent diverse backgrounds. It’s the practical stuff we need to share with one another.
I’ve not talked for long about culturally responsive teaching without referencing Zaretta Hammond (two of my favorite Zaretta Hammond blogs here) who keeps us all accountable to the “responsive” part of teaching. Good teachers know that instruction looks different each year – regardless of the name or grade of the class or the content area – because the students are different each year and they are the key ingredient in the teaching and learning recipe.
Spare yourself the jet-lag of a trip to a far-away land and instead be open-minded where you are. Look around yourself with fresh eyes and a curious mind. Smile at people who look, behave, and sound different from you and enjoy what happens after “hello.”
See you in class!