Global Awareness Earns an F in Schools

May 7, 2010
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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” says Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa. The world’s greatest priority, should be education, it is our guideline for the future; however, this generation’s learners must be taught in a different manner than they have been. We now need to prepare our students for a global economy. The world has changed and we must involve the concept of global awareness into the schools, to have a better understanding of today’s technology. We also need to have parents play a role in helping their children become involved in today’s diverse, cultural, and connected world.

The biggest and the loudest reason we should update our education is simply the fact that the world has changed. It has evolved and school systems must evolve right along with it. Population has been increasing so rapidly and so tremendously over the last few decades, but it isn’t just America; in fact, the relative population of America is becoming miniscule. With technology being such a prominent factor in our lives, it is dissolving the borders of economies, politics, and social environments, and with this, the U.S. must stay intertwined with this revolution. According to the journalist Alkman Granitsas, “Americans are becoming less-not more-globally engaged.” He then goes on to say, “Only twenty-one percent of Americans have passports, and less than nine percent of American university students study a foreign language.” Studies from the 2002 National Geographic Society Survey, “Eighty-five percent of eighteen to twenty-four year old Americans were unable to locate Afghanistan and Iraq on a map.” In 2002 we were fighting a war in Iraq, but, sadly, the majority of our young adults had no knowledge of where we were sending our troops. Americans are less globally aware then we should be. In this today’s age, we are running behind.

Cultural awareness is a necessity because business and government depend on it; we are global citizens. Today’s companies work together all over the world, and according to the Committee of Economic Development, “30% of large U.S. businesses believe that a provincial, monolingual, workforce has cost them global business opportunities.” Most Americans are fluent in only one language: English. Just one word on a resume, bilingual, broadens so many more opportunities for careers. Language proficiency is needed for a more global community. “Only one in three American seventh graders through twelve graders study a foreign language,” says McGray from article, “Lost in America” in May 2006. And, in many ways, schools are accountable for this tragedy.

Today’s schools are not preparing students accurately for the real world. We are stuck in a rut with the same core classes that were being taught fifty years ago. Not only should schools provide subjects like math, science, and English, but also courses such as financial education, business knowledge, civic literacy, and other life and business skills. Furthermore, these classes will assist children to succeed in their adult lives beyond what the classes do right now; however, not only does the framework of classes need to change, but testing does also. There must be a new ways to assess student’s ability. According to the report by Apple called “Global Awareness and Education: America’s Test for the 21st Century,” “…assessment method also should take into account the students’ ability to visualize a story, create project assets such as storyboards, work collaboratively, and produce a final product that audiences enjoy and learn from-achievements that cannot be effectively measured through standardized tests.” Standardized tests do not measure the progress of the class as well as they should. Another problem it causes is that teachers spend too much time teaching just for the test, they disregard key points of the lesson that could actually be of better value.

The world is being run by technology, whether we are keen on it or not. Everything involves technology: communication, jobs, government and education. Instead of pushing it away and saying that it causes too many problems in today’s society and cultures, we should embrace it. Schools should involve more technology in classrooms because students will become more engaged. Today’s generation requires hands-on learning like technology, instead of just sitting and listening. When students can use the technology skills that they’ve already developed, they will accumulate more skills when given the opportunity. Overall, it will enhance their academic performance. Technology should be a leading priority in schools than it is because the technology world will only continue to grow.

Children do not only learn from sitting in a desk for seven hours, but also from their parents. Parents have an enormous role in creating global awareness for their children. There is an organization called the 100 People Foundation that helps spread the knowledge of one culture to another. They offer videos urging children to look outside their little backyards and into another. In this organization, parents from all over the world encourage others to follow their countries baseball teams, learn music from their culture, and follow another countries largest news story. Parents play a key role and can make a difference in raising global awareness for the children in not just their communities, but communities all over the world.

This isn’t a minor, inconsequential problem; we are talking about the people who will be running the world in just a matter of decades. Right now they just lost their first tooth and learned long division but sooner than we all think, they will be our doctors, our business owners, and even our presidents, and as you can see we are not preparing them correctly for those positions. These learners of our tomorrows should be instructed to live in a global economy. And they are attainable solutions to this problem. Changing schools classes, altering the way students are tested, embracing technology, and having `parents become more involved are all a step, a step that is so essential. A famous quote by Gandhi says “We are the change we wish to see in the world.” We must be the innovation, the revolution, the change. Education is the world’s weapon. We wouldn’t fight a battle without ammunition, so why would we graduate our children without the proper tools to succeed?





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