Schools of Education Are Urged To Promote Global Awareness
Washington--The educators who prepare people for teaching may be at fault for the lack of interest students are showing in international affairs and foreign languages, according to speakers gathered here recently to discuss international education.
John Carpenter, dean of the college of education at Florida International University, said educators at colleges and universities could do more to generate student interest in the cultural affairs of other nations.
Mr. Carpenter was one of many speakers at the National Conference on International Education to urge the formulation of strategies to promote global education and to correct what is widely perceived as a crucial deficiency in student's education.
The conference, attended by more than 350 educators, was sponored jointly by the International Council on Education for Teaching (icet) and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
"American elementary and secondary [school] teachers are ignorant about the global conditions in which we live and the role this country plays in events throughout the world," said Frank Klassen, executive director of icet He said that the conference was designed to alert more educators to the problem so that they can define what those strategies should be.
The results of a cross-sectional survey of college students, conducted earlier this year by the Council on Learning, to test the students' knowledge of world events and foreign-language proficiency, was cited by speakers in support of their views.
Less than 15 percent of all students participating in the survey were able to answer two-thirds of the survey questions correctly. Education majors scored among the lowest of those participating in the survey, answering on the average about 38 of 101 questions correctly, according to Robert Black, project director of the survey, called "Education and the World View."
Mr. Black said the lack of global understanding among college students in general is the result of the curricula offered by colleges and universities.
But according to statistics cited by Rose Hayden, executive director of the National Council on Foreign Language and International Studies, the problem results from inadequate attention by those who administer secondary-school programs.
She reported that only one in 20 high-school students studies a foreign language beyond the second year and that one in five high schools does not offer a modern-language course as part of the curriculum.
Leon Clark, director of educational administration for The American University, cautioned that "knowledge is a very limited indicator" of student's perceptions. But he said it is indicative of "how much interest students have in the rest of the world." Mr. Clark said students should be "submerged in other cultures" and recommended the use of textbooks written by authors "other than American writers."
"An international dimension to education should permeate our regular classroom and should not be restricted to secondary teachers," according to Mr. Carpenter. He also recommended that college and university professors gain greater personal experience in "international cultures."