Cornelia Connelly, the foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, once said, “I’m cosmopolitan, the whole world is my country; and heaven is my home.” These words still ring true today with regard to global education and perspective, and at Holy Child we approach education in this way. According to the Global Education Project, the concept of global education empowers and educates young people to work to create a better future for the greater world.
Global education emphasizes unity, the interconnectedness and interdependence of the human race, the appreciation of diversity, and social justice and human rights acknowledgement and affirmation. It also assists in building a platform for growing peace around the world. Global education encourages students to take responsibility for their actions and to see themselves as global citizens capable of affecting change and contributing to a more peaceful, fair, and sustainable world. Equipped with a global perspective, students are inspired to reach out to and develop relationships with our neighbors around the world. It is interesting that the Latin word educare means “to lead out.” With global education, we are doing just that: leading younger generations out into the world with an accurate, empathetic, and strong vision for what could be.
Developing a global perspective means taking a broader view of experiences, knowledge, and learning, as well as understanding the connectedness between our own lives and those of people across the globe. Incorporating the key points from the Global Education Project into curriculum helps foster action and participation in the greater world.
So how do we prepare our children for global citizenship here at Holy Child in the Middle School?
At Holy Child, there are many ways we foster a global perspective at the Middle School level both inside and outside the classroom. Here is a sample of the many things we do:
- Fifth grade social studies focuses on early American cultures, the rise of different empires, the explorations of Columbus, the Spanish conquistadors, and more.
- Sixth grade environmental science explores how quickly or slowly populations are growing around the world as well as the contributions of CO2 to the atmosphere based on whether a country is considered developed. The students discuss what sort of impact they have on the world at large.
- Each lesson in Spanish class includes cultural topics introducing the students to the Spanish-speaking world. They learn about the culture, geography, food, and lifestyle through reading and taking virtual tours. Our novels, at all levels, include authentic culture that the students experience virtually as well.
- Seventh grade social studies and English cover each major region of the world, focusing on literature (fiction and nonfiction), art, music, language, culture, religion, history, and current events. When studying Asia, the students read 3-5 historical fiction novels and then learn traditional Japanese Taiko drumming and a traditional Korean Fan Dance. In addition, their reading of The Killing Sea by Richard Lewis, set in Indonesia, accompanies their science unit on oceanography.
- The Catholic Social Teaching principle of “Life and Dignity of the Human Person” is put into perspective in religion classes by focusing on a young boy living in Iraq who was forced to leave his home due to violence. Students learn about the work of Catholic Relief Services, discuss how each person has inherent human dignity, and brainstorm about how they are called to help those in the world (and in our families and communities) whose circumstances threaten their dignity as human beings.
- Eighth grade English works on a unit centered around the essential question “Whether or not slavery still exists in our modern world?” The class then views a TEDTalk titled, “Photos That Bear Witness to Modern Slavery” to continue their discussion.
I believe we all want our children to grow up with a respect for and awareness of global issues, as well as a confidence in their ability to help mold and shape a global future. The goal of sustaining and improving the Earth for current and future generations to enjoy is not new. However, giving students tools and knowledge to do so is a responsibility we all now share and one that will have a direct effect on their future. At Holy Child, we work very hard and across many venues to build global citizens with a good understanding of their responsibility in regard to this important and complex issue. Cornelia had it right when she said, “The whole world is my country.”