Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Global competence

I've been thinking a lot about cultural competence, especially as I've been in a book group that has been reading The Culture Map.  Today I came across an article by Andreas Schleicher, the Director of Education and Skills at the OECD who has been writing about how to assess global competence.  He starts his article with a reference to the 193 countries that adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, pointing out that the goals will only be fulfilled if we are addressing these issues with today's students.

One of the SDGs is about quality education for all, and this goal also emphasises the need to learn to live together sustainably.  As a result the PISA test is now including global competence as something it will measure this year.  There are several components to this:
  • examining issues of local, global and cultural significance - combining disciplinary knowledge to ask questions, analyse data and arguments.  This also involves students being able to critically evaluate messages being posted on the media as well as being able to create media content themselves.
  • understanding and appreciating others' perspectives - being able to see issues from multiple viewpoints.  This should encourage respect for others and mean students are less likely to tolerate injustice, hold prejudices and subscribe to stereotyping.
  • appropriate engagement across cultures - being able to adapt one's behaviour to interact with others from different cultures and to communicate in a respectful way.  
  • being active and responsible members of society - creating opportunities to take informed and reflecting action and to make their voices heard.
So how can teachers help students to succeed in global competencies?  The first thing that struck me is how closely this aligns to international mindedness and the IB learner profile attributes.  Schools can certainly provide opportunities for students to look at issues that have local and global significance as well as being relevant to their own personal lives.  The internet and social media can be important tools for students to use in this respect.  The important thing is that global competency is not an additional "subject" like literacy and maths, it should be integrated into all areas of the curriculum.

How will global competency be tested?  This year there will be a 2-part assessment which will include a critical analysis of news articles about global issues and perspectives, communicating with others and identifying actions that will address global issues.  The other part will be a questionnaire about familiarity with global issues and attitudes.  The OECD believes the data from these assessments will provide the global community with the information it needs to build a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world through education.  Although measuring attitudes is not easy, hopefully the new PISA assessments will at least form the start of a global dialogue about what is needed for the future, and the role that education can play in sustainable development.

Photo Credit: wilmack Flickr via Compfight cc

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