For decades, researchers and policymakers have urged the importance of fostering students' global competencies in K-12 classrooms, including students' knowledge of world regions, cultures, and global issues; their foreign language skills; their abilities to work effectively in cross-cultural environments; and their values of respect, appreciation for human diversity, and empathy for others.
There are numerous and varied reasons cited that underscore the urgency of educating children for global citizenship. These include:
The need for an internationally competent workforce. For example, 1 in 5 jobs is tied to international trade and it is expected that most future business growth will be in overseas markets.
An understanding of the interconnectedness of human and physical systems in order to enact solutions. Issues are multidimensional and complex. What happens locally impacts life in other places.
The value of recognizing and accepting one's responsibilities as global citizens. Being informed is critical to taking responsible action.
Appreciating the similarities between people everywhere, fostering respect, understanding, and empathy.
Global collaborative projects offer teachers and students the opportunity to work together (synchronously and asynchronously) to build understanding and develop solutions regarding global issues that affect us all. Professional organizations such as ePals, iEARN, Global Nomads Group, and others provide an infrastructure, support, and ideas as teachers seek ways to enrich their curriculum and foster global awareness in students. teaching for global competence culminates in students taking informed action about issues of local and global significance. As teachers, we must be mindful how we present such issues so that they are developmentally appropriate and so that they empower students to develop solutions in ways that are meaningful for them. One educational approach that provides tools and strategies for teaching these issues is humane education. According to the Institute for Humane Education, “humane education not only instills the desire and capacity to live with compassion, integrity, and wisdom, but also provides the knowledge and tools to put our values into action in meaningful, far-reaching ways so that we can find solutions that work for all.”