Interconnectedness. Cosmopolitanism. Sustainability. Justice. Equity. Diversity. Inclusivity.
The list of buzzwords goes on these days in global education, but they matter in today’s increasingly global society. It is no secret that the world is at our boys’ fingertips--virtually, academically, and economically--and as parents, we want to help our children understand what it means to be a global citizen.
Why is global education important?
During a recent visit to our school, Thomas Barry, president and CEO of Zephyr Management, L.P., highlighted the importance of global education as it relates to teaching boys how to think, not what to think. He noted that failures in life enrich this process and encouraged our boys not to be afraid to fail.
He also spoke about how immersive experiences in other cultures contribute to creating this 21st-century mindset. Current statistics show why global education is critical to our sons’ futures. To name a few:
- Our economy is global. Forty million U.S. jobs are tied to international companies, and employers need people with cross-cultural skills and knowledge.
- Over 1 billion people speak Chinese, and English is no longer the dominant language. Students need to learn a second language to be competitive in a global economy.
- Students who learn about global issues are more than twice as likely to see the importance of personally taking social action.
Additionally, these immersive experiences not only shape the way boys think but also how they participate in the world. Immersive experiences develop his awareness of self, his culture, beliefs, and the connection to the greater world. Global education further grows a boy’s relationship-building skills, sense of empathy, and respect and appreciation for diversity.
How do we create immersive experiences for our boys?
Start young. The world can be discovered without a passport. Children can be exposed to the world on a daily basis right at home and in their classrooms. The world--locally, nationally, and internationally--is easily accessible with today’s technology. In the classroom, through interdisciplinary lenses, cultural diversity can be examined and celebrated. From language arts and social studies to music and math and everything in between, boys can live, breathe, eat, and speak their way through the cultures of faraway destinations. This also includes learning a second language, which is easily absorbed at a younger age.
Explore your locale. What exists in your neighborhood that speaks volumes about the diversity of our world? Get out there and expose your sons to 21st-century issues right in your hometown. Partner with local organizations that focus on topics such as refugees and immigration, social justice, and those serving the broader community. Through authentic and hands-on learning experiences, boys develop the empathy they will need to coexist in a complex society. Think globally, but start locally.
Travel. Give our boys opportunities to test their zone of proximal discomfort by engaging with people from diverse populations in different places. Talk to people. Get to know them. Ask questions about their history, habits, daily living, purpose, and politics. How do they see the world differently from you and can you put yourself in their shoes? How do your travels and interactions with other humans and cultures empower you to make positive changes in your own society? Draw upon your experiences to build tolerance and acceptance of those who differ from you.
Twenty-first-century boys are faced with a multitude of challenges and opportunities. Through global education, they become equipped with the tools and competencies needed to navigate our complex world. Boys should be educated with the “attitudinal and ethical dispositions that make it possible to interact peacefully, respectfully, and productively with fellow human beings from diverse geographies”. By the time he graduates from high school, a boy, now a young man ready to take on new adventures, should be able to investigate the world, recognize perspectives, communicate ideas, and take action.