What is a Global Citizen? Defining Global Literacy in the 21st Century

By Dawn_Prescott on June 28, 2007 in Literacy.

Jennifer Groff, MIT Teacher Education; Ed Gragert, iEARN (an online collaborative for international education by connecting youth world-wide); Jen Flynn, EF Education (international experiences for students); Emily Kornblut, Taking IT Global (social networking w/goal to connect young people globally); Westley Field, MLC, Sydney, Australia (girls' academy which collaborates globally); Barry Joseph, Global Kids (works with NY high schools and supports urban communities to develop global leaders; second life virtual video project)

Think globally.

So what exactly does that mean? It starts with a global consciousness, but we cannot afford to let it end there. We need to move beyond simple awareness to a true 21st century global understanding. Our task as educators today is to go beyond learning about the world to being engaged with the world.

The Committee for Economic Development states, “We must re-define, as each generation has done, what it means to be an educated American in a changing world. The educated American of the twenty-first century...” (Education for Global Leadership, 2006).

Panelists described a “global citizen” as one who 1) sees the world without boundaries, 2) realizes that every society has flaws, but knows that every society also has strengths, 3) is internationally aware, and 4) can connect in any way with anyone from any heritage on specific, real-life issues.

Three key elements are necessary for global citizenship. First is the element of knowledge. This knowledge is recognizing that we can learn from other cultures by appreciating them and working to understand them. Secondly, 21st century skills are essential for communication and collaboration. The third element is virtues, or values. A global citizen must be caring and empathetic, capable of communicating cultural differences and perspectives to gain understanding.

So how can we, as educators, help our students achieve global citizenship?
1. Take small steps at first.
2. Collaborate with others in similar time zones and with those with similar curricular topics.
3. Start with daily activities, not huge projects.

Try ePals, blogging, exchanging video shorts, thinkquest, and think.com. Both iEARN
( http://www.iearn.org ) and TakingITGlobal ( http://www.takingitglobal.org ) have online resources and projects to get you started.

As educators in this 21st century society, it is no longer enough to teach our students about the world around us. It is our responsibility to engage them with the world.

Referenced Web Links

Jennifer Groff, MIT Teacher Education