Picture of Martyn Overy
Global Community: Expanding your Horizons
by Martyn Overy - Thursday, 10 July 2003, 9:46 PM



Up until recently, it was the educational straight-jacket, commonly known as National Curriculum, that had almost forced teachers and students into a jumping-through-hoops approach to teaching and learning..........

There is life beyond the UK and the National Curriculum!

We are bombarded with continuous streams of data, the origin and basis of which is often only justified by its simplicity, that we forget about important aspects of education in the modern, global world, stretching well beyond our local educational community.

First and foremost we are dealing with individuals, with each individual having preferences in learning, and different interests. We cannot hope to match individual learning preferences and interests by expecting all students to follow a common courses.

A great staring point is to not be so blinkered into delivering the curriculum, but be more concerned with positive, meaningful interaction with enquiring, lively, individual minds. Up until recently, it was the educational straight-jacket, commonly known as National Curriculum, which had almost forced teachers and students into a jumping through hoops approach to teaching and learning. Yet, there are good signs that even the NC has now recognised there is a need to take a more global emphasis on education.

Secondly, it is quite obvious that we live in a world where the technological advances have enabled global communities to become a reality, not a virtual dream. Students around the world now access information related to their interests almost instantly, using the internet and other online facilities. Our daily lives are no longer just influenced by events within the confines of the shores around UK.

2.  Is it really that important?

Make no mistake, The global dimension to the school curriculum is now high on the agenda.

"The school curriculum should contribute to the development of pupils' sense of identity through knowledge and understanding of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural heritages of Britain's diverse society and of the local, national, European, Commonwealth and global dimensions of their lives. The school curriculum should ... secure their commitment to sustainable development at a personal, local, national and global level."

Statement on values, aims and purposes, The National Curriculum in England, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), 2000

Young people in the UK are growing up in an increasingly global context. There is a global dimension to all aspects of their daily lives - the clothes they wear, the food they eat, the music they listen to, their holidays and the careers they choose. Understanding issues such as 'sustainable development' is rapidly becoming critical for the quality of our lives and the future of the planet. International trade, travel and communications mean that local communities are often deeply affected by what happens in different parts of the world. Young people need to develop skills, such as critical thinking and relating their own experiences and knowledge to wider issues, in order to participate fully in this global society. Thus the global dimension is applicable across the curriculum and is increasingly relevant in science.

ASE : A Global Dimension : www.ase.org.uk

3. What skills, exactly, does a global dimension promote?

Underlying the notion of a global dimension to the curriculum are eight key concepts. These underpin subject areas and help us clarify what the global dimension means:

Citizenship..... gaining the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to become informed, active, responsible global citizens

Sustainable development.......understanding the need to maintain and improve quality of life now without damaging the planet for future generations

Values and perceptions..... developing a critical evaluation of images of the developing world - the 'South' - and an appreciation of the effect these have on people's attitudes and values

Interdependence..... understanding how people, places and environments are all inextricably interrelated and that events have repercussions on a global scale

Social justice.... understanding the importance of social justice as an element in both sustainable development and the improved welfare of all people

Diversity.... understanding and respecting differences and relating these to our common humanity

Conflict resolution..... understanding how conflicts are a barrier to development and why there is a need for their resolution and the promotion of harmony

Human rights... knowing about human rights and understanding their breadth and universality.

Developing a global dimension in the school curriculum, DFID, DfEE, QCA, DEA, The Central Bureau, ref DfEE 0115/2000, September 2000

4. What are we doing about it?

So, what are we doing about it as a school, on the most obvious global platform, by which we can communicate and share with others: the internet?

The Global Community Website was launched over a year ago to enable our school to have opportunities to broaden its educational horizons, so that we are preparing students for life on our globe: as global citizens. Sad, but true, that the centre of the universe is not Oldham! You will not find standard lesson-by-lesson worksheets here, linked ever so closely to the National Curriculum. Instead you will find news, updates, articles, and downloadable materials which are related to a range of global issues which affect our everyday lives. Topical issues are presented, on a range of global issues, including Citizenship, Environment, Health matters, Energy Matters. There are now over 1500 images (copyright-free) available for educational use. Of course, if you dont like what you see, you can add articles of your own, on your subject area. Membership is free, painless, and takes about one minute to complete.

Recognition of the importance of this resource is now national, rather than existing as a minor footnote in internal despatches. The website is now one of a very small number schools which have been officially designated as a content provider for the National Grid for Learning. Hence, the official NGfL logo on the website.

5. What can YOU do to promote A Global Dimension?

So, go away and rewrite all your schemes of work to include lots of global dimension elements. Like, in your dreams! Now, lets be realistic and sensible about all this....
Download and follow advice given by the DFID, DfEE, QCA, DEA in

Developing a global dimension in the school curriculum, at http://www.dea.org.uk/downloads/s_dev-global-dim.pdf

In many cases the Global Dimension already exists, as is the case for Citizenship. However, it needs to be recognised and highlighted. Somewhere, there will be one of more eight key concepts within a scheme of work. It is probably best to do an audit to determine just how much of a Global Dimension is covered in your subject. There is no point in adding on a global dimension aspect just for the sake of it. It needs to be integrated and part and parcel of normal teaching.

Share your work with others, not just your own students. Other schools and students can also benefit from your work, and the work of your students.

Expand, initiate, and develop links with schools around the world, and involve other departments within the school. There is no reason why the links should not expand across the curriculum. It is important to develop cross-curriculum themes and projects. In this way, global citizenship becomes very firmly embedded in the educational agenda of the school.

Contribute to the Global Community Website by providing resources or global updates relevant to your subject. A team of students can do this, since the website provides blogging facilities. All contributions can be achieved easily by just using a mouse and monitor!

Be willing to GIVE to a global community, rather than just take, take, take. In that way the educational experience will be ultimately more rewarding for all !