Booklet Outlines Guidelines for International Studies

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In the past few years, thousands of pages have been produced, at the national level alone, describing what students should know and be able to do in a variety of subjects.

At least a half dozen of those standards documents talk about education and international issues.

Now, three international-education experts have produced a set of guidelines to promote more in-depth exploration of international studies and to help educators find pertinent subject matter in the other voluntary national standards tomes.

"Guidelines for Global and International Studies Education: Challenges, Culture, Connections" is a modest, 20-page booklet written in consultation with dozens of other authorities, educators, and documents.

"These guidelines or intellectual filters are not 'standards' as the term is being used by academic disciplines, but they can be used to validate local curriculum decisions and to assure that the international dimension receives attention," say the authors.

H. Thomas Collins, the director of a precollegiate international-studies project at George Washington University in Washington; Frederick R. Czarra, a consultant for the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers; and Andrew F. Smith, the former president of the New York City-based American Forum for Global Education, undertook the three-year project on their own with no financial backing.

Because the guidelines are not standards as such, there are no grade benchmarks. Nonetheless, Mr. Czarra said, the upper-elementary grades are not too soon for teachers to begin exposing their students to international issues.

At the same time, the authors do not expect elementary and secondary students to become fully versed in the subject. "These things are very complicated," Mr. Czarra said last week. "If students learn nothing else, they learn that global issues are very complex."

Linked to Standards

The booklet is divided into three topics: global issues, problems, and challenges; culture and world areas; and the United States and world-global connections.

Under each heading, the booklet outlines knowledge, skills, and participation objectives.

In the area of culture, for example, students are expected to "know and understand that members of different cultures view the world in different ways." To demonstrate a skill, students might be asked to "examine the common and diverse traits of other cultures." Then, to show participation, students would "seek to communicate with people from other cultures."

Another section of the booklet pinpoints where global-studies issues can be found in the national standards documents for geography, U.S. and world history, civics and government, social studies, and foreign languages.

Vol. 16, Issue 05

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