We’ve wrecked the world.
Inequality, environmental destruction, outbreaks of disease, terrorism and economic collapse. We are (we think) aware of the problems we face – perhaps too aware – and the message can be one of hopelessness. Do we risk passing on global ignorance to our students – a connected, compassionate generation who are plugged into a media-rich stream of (mis)information? As we try to bring global issues into the classroom, there is a danger that we promote a message that all is lost; a message reinforced by media reporting on the same issues and clouded by prejudices and emotion.
We can fix it.
We can choose to educate for hope. The solutions to many of problems are out there, or on the cusp of being realised – the technological age is well established and we are reaping the rewards. Now it’s time to recognise the importance of the psychological age. George Monbiot writes that if we terrify people, they will focus on saving themselves, not others; a feeling of hopelessness that accompanies awareness of global issues is unhelpful. Yet if the focus is on the concrete and the hopeful – the actions that we can take to make a difference – then we might affect a more positive outcome.
I would love to see an international school curriculum that produces graduates who are globally literate (as in Hans Rosling’s Ignorance Project) and who are hopeful, compassionate and active ‘fixers of the future‘. With the IB Programmes we have the framework – the ‘heavy lifting’ of the elements of an excellent education has been done for us. As schools we can choose to use that framework to build an inspirational experience.
We can start with simple actions
- Design units that connect to Global Contexts in authentic ways.
- Evaluate our own understandings of the global issues we’re addressing before we teach them.
- Use student research and examples to highlight both the reality of of the situation and the actions that can (and are) being taken to make a positive difference.
- Discuss how these actions and our knowledge can be connected to meaningful action.
We want to create a realistic hope – not ignorance, boredom or hopelessness. We can do it.
- George Monbiot: Saving the world should be based on promise, not fear.
- Business Insider: Teens are more compassionate after the recession
- Common Cause for Nature: Inspiring positive change in sustainability education
- Me: How NOT to be ignorant about the world. Should a fact-based world view be the core of an international curriculum?