As I said in my last post, I recently read Curriculum 21 by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. The book hopes to spur teachers and education leaders and policy makers rethink how and what schools teach in order to prepare our students for the 21st century. The first four chapters details Jacobs’ argument for “new schools.” The rest of the book contains chapters by guest authors who each focus on a different form of new school. Since the book’s 2010 publication, much has changed in education and technology; schools, for the most part, have stayed the same, and because of this, I think it’s worth it to look at what it said then, and determine what’s still true and what’s changed.
“A Classroom as Wide as the World,” chapter 6, by Vivien Stewart looked at global learning. You and many others may wonder what this looks like, and she gave two examples of schools that do offer a global context for their students. They are Walter Payton College Prep HS in Chicago and John Stanford International School in Seattle. At Payton in 2010, “Every student studies a world language for four years and experiences a home-stay exchange program with a sister school.” I checked now, and their language program and global partnerships are still strong. In 2014 the school won the National Blue Ribbon Award, and their international program is still praised by Newsweek and the Goldman-Sachs Foundation. At John Standford, they continue to divide the day between instruction given in English and instruction given in Spanish or Japanese.
To make the case for global learning, Stewart began her chapter with five global trends and how they affect education.
- Science and Technology
- Security and Citizenship
From these trends, she sketched three global competencies and suggested steps policy makers need to make. Six years later, how have the trends changed and what impact is that making on our students? What are the most important skills students need to be effective global citizens?
I’m taking the next five posts to look again at each trend to share what Stewart said and then to offer examples from recent news and culture to show how each trend has changed.
#Economics Stewart named China, India, Japan, Russia, and Brazil as countries with rising economies. At the time, neither Russia nor Brazil had hosted the Olympics, but since then we’ve seen both countries’ infrastructure strain under welcoming an international audience. You may remember listicles regarding Sochi’s many problems, and now there is “Brazil’s Olympic Catastrophe.” These types of stories trend every two years, so it may be useful to see how Olympic parks fare afterward: Sochi “is now a Wasteland,” but Sydney’s park has a calendar of events. Yes, Sochi is an apple and Sydney is an orange, but if in 2010 Russia looked like it would soon be a global economic force or opportunity that would match more developed nations, this comparison proves this isn’t the case.
The rising of Asian economies continue to be “central facts of the early 21st century” as Stewart claims, but individual countries’ GDP is the wrong focus. Rather, the important economic trend is the overall growth in international trade and overseas markets. Take for instance the film industry.
2014 was the first year the Chinese box office market exceeded $4 billion dollars, compared to the U.S./Canada box office’s $10.4 billion, a 5% decrease from the previous year. In 2015, the MPAA reports, “China’s box office increased 49% in U.S. dollars to $6.8 billion, surpassing the next largest international market by nearly $5 billion and accounting for nearly 50% of Asia Pacific box office.” And the growing Chinese market affects the movies we make. As The Slate Culture Gabfest notes, the Chinese fighter pilot in the recent Independence Day: Resurgence seems to target a totally different audience. On the podcast Julia Turner says
I felt like I was no longer apart of the cultural hegemon audience…. when they array the intergalactic cut-outs… one of them is this Chinese fighter pilot on whom another character has a crush and she shows up and speaks Chinese to her uncle, and they have this exchange of jokes in Chinese that are subtitled that just do not feel pitched to an American audience at all.
Steven Metcalf builds on this criticism not arguing against the inclusion of a Chinese character but to argue the movie doesn’t commit:
This movie comes from nowhere is directed at nowhere. It’s attempting for a universality that makes it flavorless. It doesn’t really honor the Chinese-ness of the Chinese in any way. It don’t seem to come from America in any specific way.
And this is just one of the many media outlets to note how movies are appealing to global audiences. In 2011, The Guardian noticed “The rise of the international box office,” and in 2014, Grantland explained “How International Box Office Is Changing the American Blockbuster Economy.” Filmmakers who want to make hit movies must consider the demands of these international markets when producing movies, and other industries must consider how their products will sell abroad, too.
Currently, politicians and media cycle around the impact of the global market on jobs: American companies outsource manufacturing overseas. More recently, customer service jobs are also outsourced. But what is happening in the film industry suggesting a different trend: American companies will not outsource products as much as they will need to design for and market to a larger audience.
What global skills will students need to market, design, and sell to varied cultural audiences?
At the most basic level, foreign language skills and marketing skills? But what is involved with marketing to an unfamiliar culture? Contacting translators to facilitate meetings, partnering with local cultural institutions to understand cultural norms and values, and working with anthropologists to conduct market research.
So, how can we teach this?
Let me know in the comments or on Twitter; I’d love to know your thoughts.