The Importance of Global Education
October 2, 2019
The world is now more connected than ever before. Due to the availability of media and the vast reaches of social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, citizens from countries across the globe can interact within milliseconds. As a result, it has become important that one understand perspectives in a global manner to maintain this positive connection. However, this connectivity is a mask for the inherent superficiality of online interaction. While the internet seems to bring us together, it does not diminish the worldwide perpetuation of racial stereotypes or misunderstandings about foreign governmental interactions.
In America, there is an obvious culprit for these transgressions: the governmental encouragement of various educational standards such as No Child Left Behind and the Common Core. According to the official ed.gov website, these academic norms, which have mainly focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects, were created to “solve some of the complex challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce”. The most recent iteration, Common Core State Standards, or CCSS, focuses its efforts on a trifecta of subjects deemed essential for students’ future success: English, Language Arts/Literacy, and Math (corestandards.org). To gain sufficient funding for the financial demands of maintaining schools, districts force teachers to teach students Common Core lessons in order to prepare them for important standardized tests which determine the district’s financial sustenance; as a result, the pressure of a financially sustained education system sucks the lifeblood out of curiosity within the system.
These requirements have significant consequences. As the United States’ international relations become increasingly combative, awareness of foreign traditions and customs is consequently as crucial as ever. The lack of opportunities to cultivate globalist perspectives outside of clubs such as Model United Nations within school districts in the United States is embarrassing and creates an environment where globalized perspectives are almost nonexistent. Since our schools create the leaders of tomorrow, our future leaders’ legislation and diplomacy will reflect a lack of globalized understanding. In turn, they will approach lawmaking with neocolonialist and Eurocentric undertones, creating lasting rifts between the United States and countries in opposite hemispheres.
Common Core standards carry a more dangerous agenda: their implied limitation of a globalized curriculum as a result of a focus on domestic and workforce based education. However, this focus on domestic strength is not the problem. The issue is found in the context of how those domestic skills are utilized within a global context. If global literacy is nonexistent, global economies, governments, and cultures cannot flourish and work together to solve progressively more difficult and omnipresent problems.
Another result of Common Core education is the reduction of time given to subjects in the humanities and social sciences. Schools within ICCSD offer noticeably American- and European-focused education to those wishing to venture outside of STEM fields. Promotion of global citizenship is lacking at best: only two classes that focus on global affairs, World History and AP World History, are offered to students at City High. However, at West High, the only class offered that is relatively global is AP European History, which only reinforces the Eurocentrism found in all aspects of American education.
The lack of education on global affairs also encourages the ubiquity of negative cultural, ethnic, and racial stereotypes, where many students are cornered into negative assumptions about them and their own culture. For example, the “model minority” stereotype, one of the most pervasive and harmful assumptions perpetrated by students in America against Asian students, has driven a narrative which expects mathematical and scientific genius from those students. Presumably, the reason for this stereotype would be the academic exclusivity of immigration criteria for students coming to America. This may be true, but the exceeding prevalence of the stereotype accordingly harms the mental health of Asian students who feel as if they don’t fit in with the brilliance supposedly shown by all other students who are racially similar to them.
Global citizenship is one of the most important qualities one can possess in a world at its highest level of cultural and geographical diversification in history. The fact that it is widely neglected within government-mandated secondary school education is shameful and has broad consequences in many different aspects of daily life, communal harmony, international awareness, and inclusivity. If the United States wishes to be a nation that can solve the issues of the future, Congress must enact meaningful educational legislation which encourages both international schooling and cultural understanding. If we can’t teach our kids to be global citizens, it is subsequently unrealistic to expect our citizens, diplomats, and policymakers to understand the complexity of globalized interaction. The blatant lack of educational opportunities for exploring the diverse and complex world plagues not only the ICCSD but school districts nationwide. The ICCSD and other districts must consider the repercussions of having students who are globally uninformed.