Article first appeared in the Portugal Resident.
The world has become a much smaller place as modern technology allows us to instantly communicate and collaborate with people from different cultures all over the globe. Never has it been more important to ensure that all of our children and students develop a global perspective.
In education and schools in general, it is now a subject in its own right and, if you like, the latest buzzword. Indeed, at our school, we value the concept so highly that Global Perspectives is a subject that all of our students are taught and take an active part in from three years old.
The current pandemic has demonstrated across the globe the ability for adults, children and students alike to empathise with others, value different perspectives and diverse cultures, along with the ability to work together and solve international problems.
As both parents and teachers, we realise that developing a global perspective is vital for our children in this ever-changing world. Thinking into the future, large employers all over the world are already making statements about how they want to employ people who can work within a global workforce and embrace cultural diversity.
Latest research highlights the fact that diversity increases innovative thinking and, in an era when many candidates have obtained a high-class degree, employers, when recruiting, increasingly look at aspects of a candidate’s global diversity experience such as additional language skills.
Research shows us that the earlier a learner starts developing and practising their global skills, the greater it will impact their learning. Therefore, as parents and facilitators, we must work together to ensure that our children and students are equipped with the knowledge, understanding and skills to become global citizens.
Crucially, we should be enabling our children and students to become critical thinkers, who will have the skills to consider global issues, and appreciate and understand that there will always be more than one point of view.
Living in the Algarve, which is so culturally diverse, with a multitude of languages spoken, a vast array of international food and restaurants available and a high percentage of foreign residents living permanently here, we have the opportunity daily to embrace a global perspective.
We should use this unique opportunity to actively engage our students and children.
All schools should celebrate the wide range of mother tongue languages spoken and enrich their students by embracing the diversity of cultures that exist. At our international school, we embrace over 25 different ethnicities and at least 12 different spoken languages. We celebrate this diversity on a daily basis and actively encourage all of our students to share and talk about their traditions.
Our students really enjoy this aspect, and are always enthralled to learn about different countries, ethnicities and languages. It is fascinating at break and lunch times to listen to our children teaching words from their native language to their friends. Yesterday, one of our Year 5 children was teaching Russian to a Year 8 student and was evidently very proud to be able to do so.
Most good schools now have the ability to offer Global Perspectives as a taught subject. Cambridge Global Perspectives, as taught in our school, can now be taken both as an IGCSE and A level subject. Universities actively seek out students that have studied this subject to a high standard. They appreciate that critical thinking, communication, analytical and evaluation skills have all been enhanced whilst developing a global outlook.
As parents, we can encourage our children to:
Learn a second or third language,
Try different world foods by regularly eating as a family at a range of ethnically diverse restaurants,
Look at a globe and consider different places around the world,
Have a culturally diverse circle of friends,
Talk about world events and give their own thoughts and opinions,
Read their way around the world through books. My personal picture book favourites include “Drum Dream Girl” set in Cuba by Margarita Engle, which is inspired by a young girl’s dream to become a drummer, and “Snow in Jerusalem” by Deborah Da Costa, which focuses on a Jewish boy and a Muslim boy coming together to look after a stray cat,
Embrace the local Algarvian traditions and customs, and learn the Portuguese language.
Importantly, as adults and role models for our students and children, we have the responsibility to be globally aware, and take a global perspective in our own lives. We can, and do, influence the global perception of our children, and, ultimately, the future of the world.
“Every human is like all other humans, some other humans, and no other human” — Clyde Kluckhon