You may be familiar with the terms Global Learning, the Global Dimension, Global Education or Development Education, all of which relate to issues of social justice and sustainability. We prefer the term Global Citizenship because it implies that this is more than something we can just teach and learn about within the curriculum. The term ‘citizenship’ reflects the ethos of action taking – its about how we, together with children and young people, become aware of how our lives contribute positively and negatively to the lives of others.
Global Citizenship Education is about empowering pupils to be active citizens, willing and able to contribute to the development of a fair, sustainable society, locally and globally. It is an ethos of education, that is embedded throughout the curriculum and beyond. It supports the development of skills that enable children and young people to participate in their communities, to think critically, to challenge discrimination and stereotyping and to value all human beings as equal – all these skills are underpinned by the values and attitudes that children and young people hold.
You do not need to be an expert in every global issue in order to teach Global Citizenship. Much more important is an ongoing willingness to grapple with what these five ‘big ideas’ mean for your classroom practice.
Adapted from Global Citizenship in the Classroom: a guide for teachers, p6-7 © Oxfam GB, 2015
Human beings have the same basic needs but many different ways of meeting them. Differences in gender, sexuality, culture, class, nationality, religion, ethnicity, language and status may all be significant in explaining these variations and in shaping identity. To thrive in such a diverse and fast-changing world, pupils need to feel confident in their own identity, but they should also be open to engaging positively with other identities and cultures, and able to recognise and challenge stereotypes.
Central to Global Citizenship is the idea that all human beings belong to a single human race, share a common humanity and are of equal worth. Hence they should all have the same basic rights and be treated accordingly. Yet beliefs about the superiority of different groups, and about which groups ‘belong’ and which do not, continue to be expressed through words, behaviour and systems – and sometimes, often unintentionally, through the practices and curricula of schools.
We live in an interconnected world in which decisions taken in one place can affect people living on the other side of the planet – or down the road: Globalisation affects us all. However, the idea of global interdependence goes further, recognising that even the wealthiest countries rely heavily on other countries’ riches – from physical commodities such as food and minerals to knowledge, culture and communications.
How we share and use the earth’s resources affects the health of the planet and of everyone sharing it – now and in the future. There are many different interpretations of sustainable development, but at its heart lies a recognition that our relationship with the earth needs to acknowledge the limits of finite resources and the human rights of all.
In all communities – from school to international level – there are conflicts of interest and disagreements. As a result there is a continual need to develop rules, laws, customs and systems that all people accept as reasonable and fair. Issues of peace and conflict are thus inevitably bound up with questions of social justice, equity and rights.
I started working with RISC in 2003, running the resource centre and bookshop. Since then I have designed and delivered extensive training and guidance to support primary and secondary schools in their delivery of Global Citizenship.
Along with my colleagues, I also work closely with Reading University, Oxford University and Oxford Brookes with both undergraduate and postgraduate trainee teachers. Along with the team I write and publish teaching resources, and guidance documents for RISC and other organisations.
I took early retirement from university teaching in September 2013 and volunteered for the RISC Education Team straightaway. I wanted to be somewhere I felt I could be useful – and where I would learn new things. To date I have updated the Resource Bank, helped copy-edit the How Do We Know It’s Working? Teaching Toolkit, trialled Global Citizenship activities in primary schools … and am learning all the time.