Why a global perspective matters
Mitalene has noticed a “new coherence and intensity” around the global education work happening in schools. And she has a hunch as to why. “Information is crossing borders more rapidly. People are crossing borders—whether they want to or not—in greater numbers, and some of the world’s biggest challenges are in our face more,” says Mitalene. Because of this abundance of information, “we have an opportunity to really lean into our work in education to make it as relevant as it can be.”
In many places, educators are helping students make sense of what it means to be a good local and global citizen. Mitalene notes that certain districts provide the opportunity to earn a certificate in global competence along with a high school diploma. At one school the Think Tank collaborates with, there’s an initiative to ensure their library materials represent the stories of refugees resettling there. No particular solution outweighs the others. There are just more and more pockets of progress appearing in schools and districts across the country.
Even so, it’s not uncommon for people to feel uncomfortable with the idea of global education. Maybe they worry if you’re thinking about people elsewhere, that implies you’re not thinking about the people in your own hometown. As far as Mitalene’s concerned, that oppositional construct isn’t useful, “because we do share a planet.” A better solution? Try to make room for both realities.
Whether your focus is far away or close to home, the value of a broader awareness of what’s happening beyond your physical boundaries is the same. Mitalene speaks to how important this awareness is, and the reverberations of a miseducation: “A lack of understanding of other people leads to lack of trust, and a lack of trust can lead to disdain. Disdain can lead to hatred, and hatred is destabilizing, fundamentally. It not only destroys relationships; it can destroy lives, and livelihoods, and society. So, what’s at stake—to the extent that global citizenship encourages understanding of the self and the other in a really active way—is it can help to mitigate against this rift of hatred.”