Why you should consider a global education for your child

Posted April 14, 2021 5:00 a.m. EDT

By allowing students to experience cultures outside of their own, a global education prepares children for success in the world beyond the classroom. (Photo Courtesy of Participate Learning)

This article was written for our sponsor, Participate Learning.

With almost all states in the country offering some sort of dual language programming, global education is becoming increasingly common in childrens' curriculum. With a myriad of benefits — from improved problem-solving skills to greater cultural awareness to enhanced communication skills — it's no wonder why global education has gained steam across the country.

While smaller counties typically struggle from lack of access, organizations like Participate Learning are partnering with school districts to help bring dual language programming to students across North Carolina.

In Alleghany County, Steve Hall, director of technology, testing and accountability, has seen how global education can benefit students directly.

"We're a small rural school system, and a lot of our students aren't exposed to the big world out there, so to speak. We knew partnering with Participate Learning and entering into this global education programming was an avenue to open many doors for them," said Hall. "We feel like education is the impetus for changing lives, and it has done so in just a short time here in Allegheny County. This program not only benefits the students' academic growth, but we know that it benefits their own personal growth, as well. It inspires curiosity, it supports empathy, it supports critical thinking — it has opened so many avenues for our students."

In implementing global education into the curriculum, Hall and his district have integrated the Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations. There are 17 goals in total, including initiatives such as no poverty, gender equality, clean energy, reduced inequality and climate action.

While Piney Creek Elementary School does not currently have any cultural exchange or dual language teachers, Hall hopes to add these pieces to the curriculum through partnering with Participate Learning. In doing so, he aims to better prepare students for the world after high school.

"This is something that our district needed badly — to open those doors and open their eyes to the rest of the world. We are rural, and we found through doing some surveys and things that a lot of students were graduating high school and going off to college, but they would return back here within a semester or less," said Hall. "A lot of that was due to culture shock. They weren't ready for that big wide world out there, and so we're hoping that this program will change some of that and better prepare them."

The first step in implementing a global education initiative was to place teams at each school. The initiative focuses specifically on art and agriculture, and each grade level is assigned a different country, continent, or region to focus on and incorporate into their studies. Students also started sending postcards and letters to other kids across the world, building their communication skills and global outlook in the process.

Across the state in Halifax County, Principal Marcus Jones is in the midst of facilitating a similar global education program at Aurelian Springs Elementary. The rural school is in its third year of dual language programming, in which half of the instruction is in English and the other half in Spanish. Similar to Allegheny County's program, global education has given students the opportunity to think outside of their hometown.

"As far as the overall dual language program, it's great that the students are learning new vocabulary and a new language, but it's also giving them an opportunity to better understand different countries and cultures throughout the world. We go beyond the flags, food and the festivals — we allow our students to embrace the cultural awareness and diversity through live virtual field trips, speakers and culture experiences," said Jones. "I actually attended Aurelian Springs in elementary school, and I was exposed to flags and continents, but that was pretty much it. We're digging deep into it and increasing student's appreciation for other cultures and other individuals."

In partnering with Participate Learning to help facilitate the dual language program, Aurelian Springs has been able to source teachers who have already been vetted by the company. In doing so, they've been able to increase the number of instructors from outside of the United States, bringing another level of cultural immersion to the classroom.

Similar to Hall in Alleghany County, Jones echoed the global education's importance in exposing rural students to cultures from around the world. Both schools plan to continue growing their programs — each relying on incorporating traits from the UN's Sustainable Development Goals they selected — but have been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from the community thus far.

"We have a lot of folks in our community who have called and wanted to know how they could get involved, how they could support, how they can help. A lot of them didn't even have children at our school. They just saw what was happening and they want it to be a part of it," said Hall. "Our schools have done a great job with making those connections and showing our students that there are different ways of life out there. Our students have built empathy through these service learning projects, and we hope to continue and grow them through the Sustainable Development Goal focus."

"We have identified so many different activities that our students can actually do centered around these Sustainable Developments Goals that we have adopted, and all of the different activities allow us to build our students up to be responsible citizens and lead them to be more conscious of their wellbeing and their environment," said Jones. "In rural areas, students lack exposure. With a global education, they're able to be exposed to the world beyond their environment. They can leave Halifax County, but they're sitting right there in the classroom. Through virtual trips and cultural immersion, they're building respect for other cultures."

This article was written for our sponsor, Participate Learning.

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