Our school and a bunch of our super-dedicated teachers are deep in the midst of preparing for a curriculum overhaul next year. There is a lot going on, and a lot of moving parts that we’re working with, but one of the most exciting is our new Global Citizenship curriculum that is currently in development. Proposals from grade leaders should be rolling in over the next couple of weeks before summer break, and I’m keen to see what everyone has come up with.
The push to include global citizenship in our curriculum stems from the unique situation that we find ourselves in at my school: teaching English to Korean students through a content-based, partial immersion approach. The standards that we are basing our curriculum around are awesome: the new BC curriculum standards. They were just released in 2016 and are great and forward thinking. The one issue that we encountered in dealing with them, though, was that the social studies standards are very Canada-centric content-wise. In many of the years there isn’t much of an issue, but in some of the upper elementary grades so much of the content involves specific Canadian history that it would be of little use to our Korean student body.
In order to provide a social studies-esque education that holds some value to the students, we decided to take on the subject from a global perspective. Developing global citizens is a part of our school’s vision, and our push to break down the walls of our classrooms using blogging and technology may find our students engaging with the world at large. Learning how to participate in a global community will be valuable to our students now, and most certainly in their futures as the world gets smaller due to developing technologies.
Research led us to two potential sources for standards: Oxfam and UNESCO. After a happy debate over an hour or so, we came to a consensus that the Oxfam global citizenship curriculum suited our needs best. It outlines 7 understandings, 7 skills, and 7 values that students should develop and learn. The 21 topics are addressed differently across a number of age levels and standards are provided. In addition to the standards, Oxfam also provides some brief but useful documentation outlining teaching strategies that educators can use to approach the subject.
It excites me to be building a curriculum in our school that will provide our students with the skills they will need to engage in the global community today and in the future. Combined with the digital citizenship curriculum we provide our students, we’re set to foster learning that will provide our students with the skills they will need to lead! We’re only just beginning, but I can only imagine how far we can expand our global citizenship directive in the years to come.
Matthew Boomhower is a mid-career educator with 15 years of classroom teaching and educational leadership experience. He is Head of Innovation & Learning at an international school in Malaysia and is a proud husband and father.