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Global Perspectives

Global Education in a Round and Flat World

Globalization is a verb, not a noun. Global education should be the same.

The world is definitely round— I’ve seen the picture—and nothing you or the equally brilliant Tom Friedman says is going to make it flat.

And, the world economy is flat —I‘ve seen the diagram—and hopefully nothing I say is going to make it revert to a world of disconnected, isolated tribes and nations filled with illiterate hungry people living brutish short lives.

How do these two worlds, the spherical and flat interact? Where is the interface, the connections, the commons? Do sparks fly when they touch?

The intersection of geography and economics, culture and technology, history and current events, art and design and engineering, English literature and “foreign” languages—all play a role in the boundary-crossing integrated curriculum referred to as “global education”. What globalization is to the world at large, global education needs to be to the world of education. It needs to be an integrative force, a systems view of the world showing connections, overlap and patterns. It needs to bring perspective to the parochial, context to the country, and connections to the disparate content silos of our educational system.

Globalization is making the world into one system—one environment, one market, one pool of technology, labor, finance, culture, disease, crime, and problems. So too, global education needs to make the world of disparate subject matter into one integrated cross-disciplinary subject— that makes sense, and is relevant to students.

Globalization is measured by the flows of goods, services, people, money, ideas, and problems across borders. Global education can be measured by the connections it makes with other subjects, the crossing of borders and disciplinary boundaries, the integration of math and science with geography, history, literature, political science and current events. Making the world relevant in an age of information overload, showing the patterns that connect, the intersections of influence and invention, place and planet, inspiring with hope and vision when all seems disconnected and irrelevant— that’s quite an achievement— and exactly what our world needs. And that’s our challenge as global educators— and here’s the punch line— in a global age, we are all global educators.

Big Pictures

BigPicture small words.
Perspective is more important than IQ.
The tree has a disease. You are the smartest person in the world. You are two inches away from the bark of the tree and trying to figure out what is wrong. All you see is bark. Nothing seems wrong. In fact, nothing is wrong—with  the bark. Step back and you see the leaves of the tree. You can see they are brown and falling off. Step back further and you can see the forest. Further back and the ecosystem and watershed is now in view. Go even further back and you can see the energy source for the tree— the sun. With the bigger picture comes the additional parts of the puzzle, the context and the outside the original view causes. As Dwight Eisenhower said, “If you can’t solve a problem, enlarge it.” If something doesn’t make sense, you can’t understand something, step back and see the larger system the system you are trying to understand (or change) fits into.