- Akaba James, The Open Dreams Team
Global Teaching Dialogue - Preparing our Youth for an interconnected world
On Friday, June 28th, 2019, an Open Dreams Delegate and member of the Cameroon Fulbright TEA Alumni, was part of the Global Teaching Dialogue, held at the George C. Marshall Center, US Department of State, Washington DC. The annual event, in its fourth year, organized by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department, brought together teacher-exchange alumni, educators and global education experts and leaders, to share experiences on the best practices for globalizing curricula, implementing virtual exchanges and educational strategies for a global economy. U.S. Department of State officials made opening presentations among others and workshops were conducted on integrating global competence and international best practices across the K-12 curriculum. Among the key topics were (1) Globalizing STEM Education (2) Honing leadership for global schools (2) Diplomacy Simulations for the High School Classroom (3) Career/Vocational Technical Education (4) Globalizing the Humanities etc. There was a Resource Fair to provide information about U.S. Department of State exchange programs for teachers and youth, U.S. Diplomacy Center simulations, and other activities and materials to help teachers bring the world into their classrooms.
Alumni Panel, Educating Youth for an interconnected world
The first panel focused on the benefits of international educational exchanges. Each panelist shared very personal and rewarding experiences as a a teacher exchange alum. Some of the important highlights were:
-Regardless of what the question is, the answer is education. -Teachers touch lives so profoundly. - Language is the most powerful tool of diplomacy, and hence multilingualism is a plus for global citizenship. - I am because you are, and I am only as good as the people around me. - When other nations are sustainably prosperous in an interconnected world, we too stand a good chance of being prosperous. - When you make it about the idea and not about the money, the money will come in, for most endeavors at start-off. - In the story of the Blind man and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe, each of the six blind men had a perspective. Though each of them was partly in the right, to have a true image of the elephant, all the perspectives needed to be put together. By amassing many global experiences, a teacher brings the elephant (the complete picture) into the classroom.
Keynote speaker, Sydney Chaffee, 2017 Teacher of the Year in the USA, set the hall alight by sharing her perspectives and experiences traveling the world, talking education and challenging teachers to dare; Some highlights below: - Diversity is like oxygen to the USA. By connecting with one another, we make the world smaller for us and we grow our humanity. This is a win for educational diplomacy and the US Government prides itself leading this initiative, of international educational exchange programs.
- Teachers are connected by love for the kids, the work and creativity. - Teaching matters beyond a test and the classroom. -Technology enables us to give our students windows into the world. - Zenophobia is on the rise, but a connected world can fight the injustices through education. - We often feel that we are not as good enough for some big opportunities or programs – we spend time downgrading ourselves, downplaying our expertise – on the other hand, we need to be audacious enough to step into leadership and make the changes we want; make things happen the way we want. As teachers, we are leaders and we bring to the table a lot of knowledge and wisdom in the running of affairs; many exchange alumni have gone on to become presidents, ministers etc in their countries ("..and you might be sitting next to a president"). - You do not need permission to be a leader. Hence, do not wait for a title; just lead by doing the work in your community excellently and encouraging others to follow. Go out there and be bold. You are good enough to drive the change we need or dream of.
In the workshop on Globalizing STEM Education, we explored Global competency, which is the possession of knowledge (skills and dispositions) to understand and act creatively on issues of global significance. There are four global competencies – -Investigate the word - Globally competent students have knowledge and curiosity about the history of the world, its geography, cultures, environmental and economic systems, and contemporary international issues. - Recognize perspective - Globally competent students can recognize their own and other perspectives. They can articulate and explain perspectives thoughtfully and respectfully. - Communicate ideas effectively - Globally competent students have language and cross-cultural skills to communicate effectively with people from other countries and use technology to bridge cultures. - Take action - Globally competent students research ideas and propose solutions to problems. Students participate in solutions and reflect upon their experiences.
Collectively, global competence represents the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors necessary to thrive in today's interconnected world.
Sample web/technological resources which can be used to implement the globalizing of STEM education in the classroom were deeply discussed and this ended with the screening of the very compelling video below titled, How does DNA connect people globally?
In the Diplomacy Simulations for the High School workshop, we were made to step into the shoes of real diplomats and test our critical thinking skills, creativity, innovation, problem solving, communication and collaboration skills. In the simulation, a scenario of a real-world or hypothetical global issue, historical or current, was introduced for discussion and we were split into different stakeholder groups, viz (antagonizing) Foreign Ministries of different countries, NGOs (e.g. those who lead fights against global warming & climate change, poaching, industrialization etc) and International Organizations, each with different perspectives and priorities or interests, and under set time constraints, we got charged to negotiate a peaceful solution to the crisis in the given scenario. Each group used the information provided in the simulation packet to develop their policy positions and defended or modified their choices in real time, as the discussions evolved. The proceedings were very animating, as the participants applied their skills in drama to enhance the discussions. This enabled the learning experience to develop organically, and focus was more on the process than the end results - hence there was no right or wrong solution or action. At the end of the simulation, we got encouraged to express how our views on diplomacy have evolved and how to apply diplomatic skills in our everyday lives, e.f. in dialoging, break the ice by focusing the conversation on the commonalities, the intersections and not on the differences.
- Global Teaching Dialogue 2019, a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State
- Freshwater Crisis, Energy, Security and Economic Growth (Discover Diplomacy 2019), United States Diplomacy Center
Follow the link below to watch a TED talk by Sydney Chaffee