About Me

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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Should new teachers care about glocal engagement?

In my earlier post, I discussed my personal ethic of care: what I see as the raison d'etre for why I am engaged with glocal education and citizenship. Following this previous post, I now consider whether my personal ethic of care should be "transplanted" (transmitted? transferred? these are all problematic because of the connotations associated with each of these words) into others, particularly new teachers? Should I educate, equip, and empower others with this part of my value system?

It's somewhat of a silly and narcissistic question. First, many new teachers already share a similar ethic of care i.e. it's not all about me! Second, I recognize that many of the "nurture" aspects of my own development, which have led to the development of my ethic of care, are not going to be shared by others. New teachers come with their own "buffet" of background experiences, some of which will motivate them to a glocal citizenship disposition and others which will not. This needs to be recognized and honoured.

So beyond the silliness of the question, I do see value in helping new teachers develop a glocal perspective. Perhaps most importantly, a glocal perspective helps them help their students to see the "bigness" of the world - an amazing (and sometimes ugly) world it is! A glocal understanding also helps teachers to assist their students in seeing the injustices of the world and the nuances within these injustices. Glocal perspective-building encourages teachers and students to see the value in learning languages, the beauty of music and art from different parts of the world, and a more complete perspective of history and geography. It should also motivate us to action.

I don't particularly like the phrase "citizens of the world", partly because I really don't know what this means. However, we do talk a lot about 21st century learning these days - the ability to analyze, the importance of creativity, etc - all skills and traits which can help in discovering the world and shedding light on the blight and beauty of humanity. New teachers have an incredible opportunity!

I love the Haitian phrase - piti piti, little by little - we can help nurture teachers to be active glocal citizens.

Why do I value glocal education and citizenship? A personal ethic of care

Over the past few years I've been motivated by the question, "What can I do to motivate and equip teacher candidates to develop a glocal perspective?" Another way to phrase this question is, "How do we help new teachers become glocal citizens?" I've been wrestling with these questions for some time. Today, I've been wondering why this is important to me. Why should teachers care about glocal citizenship? Why should teachers help educate their students about the local and global community?  Why do I value the idea of learning about, and being active in, world issues?

I suspect, not surprisingly, that part of my motivation in this area is due to my own background: early childhood years in India, family discussions and media awareness about global issues as a young person, traveling during university through parts of Latin America, studies that focused on international relations, and educational work in places such as Thailand and Haiti in my professional life. So, glocal awareness has become a part of my DNA - somewhat like a branch drafted onto a tree, except that the branch is increasingly becoming the tree.

But I think it's more than just a "nurture" aspect.  I have a deep-seated belief that knowing about the local and global community, and being an active participant within them, is part of what it is to be fully human: to care for people, their circumstances and life-situations, whether they live beside me or in places I will never see. This ethic of care is certainly part of most religious value systems ("who is my neighbour?") and it resonates deeply with me. So learning about the world, and being an active citizen of it, gives me the opportunity to learn about others and support them the best I can.

The idea of learning about, and supporting, others around the world is certainly altruistic. It's also messy. Many of the issues of social justice I once considered "black and white" are not so starkly contrasted in my mind anymore. But that's for another post!

Now, if this my personal ethic of care, is it reasonable to think that a similar ethic of (glocal) care should be encouraged of new teachers?