International

Group Promotes Global Studies in Curriculum

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — March 01, 2005 4 min read

Deputy Managing Editor Karen Diegmueller contributed to this report.

While policymakers and business leaders have lamented American students’ inadequate knowledge about the world, a growing number of schools around the United States are beginning to infuse a global perspective into the curriculum and classroom activities.

Some 300 educators committed to such an approach gathered here Feb. 17-20 at the International Studies Schools Association conference. They shared ideas and resources for teaching children about other regions and countries, including their geography, history, politics, and culture.

The 4-year-old ISSA, a network of K-12 schools housed at the University of Denver, has been working to expand the number of teachers and schools that incorporate international content into the curriculum, as well as the quantity and quality of materials to help them do so.

montgomerym03022005

“We want to help bolster teachers’ content knowledge … and help them to become better conduits of international education in their classrooms,” said Mark Montgomery, an associate dean at the university’s Center for Teaching International Relations and an organizer of the conference. “Many teachers [who take an international approach] are feeling alone and isolated,” he said. “Here they can connect with those teachers who are doing this.”

No Add-Ons

Much of the conference focused on the progress made by this academic approach. An increasing number of schools are adopting an international theme, experts here said, and at least 18 states have initiated policies that encourage or require greater attention to instruction in world history and culture, foreign languages, and the interactions between the United States and other countries.

But as academic standards and accountability gain greater influence over curricular decisions, and schools pay more attention to the core subjects that are tested under federal and state school improvement initiatives, such changes have proved difficult, said Michael H. Levine, the executive director of the National Campaign for International Education in the Schools. The campaign is an arm of the New York City-based Asia Society.

“The curriculum in the ‘Leave No Child Behind’ world requires that global education not be a separate subject,” Mr. Levine told the attendees. The international content in the curriculum, he said, “has to be transformative, not additive.”

Educators who have helped their schools go through that transformation said the process has been complicated, but beneficial for both teachers and students.

“Having staff integrate global awareness within their mandated content—while making time for two hours of literacy a day and 90 minutes of math a day—is a challenge,” said Myrna Meehan, the principal of the Winding Springs Elementary Center for Leadership and Global Economics, a school in Charlotte, N.C.

The effort has paid off for Winding Springs, which was set to close because of low academic performance before it was restructured as a magnet school. It now draws some 650 students from around the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district and has moved off the state list of low-performing schools.

The challenges are exacerbated, though, by the tendency of schools in this country to focus exclusively on the U.S. perspective, as well as by high-stakes standardized testing in core subjects, a lack of instructional materials, and limited classroom time, said Catherine W. Scherer, an educator and the president of Simon and Barklee Inc., a Langley, Wash.-based publisher of books that have international themes related to content in core subjects.

“But the reality is that there are 6 billion people in the world, and 95 percent of them don’t live here,” she pointed out to the more than 50 participants in a session on internationalizing the curriculum. “Our students have to have an awareness and acknowledgment of the world beyond the confines of [their own] city, state, and country.”

Beyond Food and Flags

In more than two dozen sessions, the conference offered practical advice for teachers to move beyond the tradition in many schools of simply highlighting the food, flags, and festivals of other regions and countries. Sessions on globalizing lessons in social studies, science, math, business education, physical education, language arts, and service learning were provided.

Ms. Scherer suggested that teachers “internationalize” their classrooms, using world maps, centers where students can research information about other countries, and daily routines, such as learning a foreign word each day, discussing current events around the world, or using metric measurements or currency conversions.

To do so, teachers themselves must gain greater knowledge and better understanding of the world, experts said.

“Know your subject matter,” urged Betsy Devlin-Foltz, the program director for the Longview Foundation. The Silver Spring, Md.-based organization, which was a sponsor of the conference, provides grants for teacher education and student workshops on international issues.

“Look for every opportunity,” she said, “to bring the global perspective to teaching.”

Deputy Managing Editor Karen Diegmueller contributed to this report.
A version of this article appeared in the March 02, 2005 edition of Education Week as Group Promotes Global Studies in Curriculum

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Washington Teacher Trainer - (WAVA)
Washington, United States
K12 Inc.
Strategic Account Manager
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
President and CEO
Alexandria, Virginia
National Association of State Boards of Education
CCLC Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools

Read Next

International Global Test Finds Digital Divide Reflected in Math, Science Scores
New data from the 2019 Trends in International Math and Science Study show teachers and students lack digital access and support.
3 min read
Image of data.
iStock/Getty
International Pre-COVID Learning Inequities Were Already Large Around the World
A new international benchmarking highlights gaps in training for digital learning and other supports that could deepen the challenge for low-income schools during the pandemic.
4 min read
International Part of Global Trend, 1 in 3 U.S. High Schoolers Felt Disconnected From School Before Pandemic
UNESCO's annual report on global education progress finds countries need to make more effort to include marginalized students, particularly in the United States.
4 min read
International How Schools in Other Countries Have Reopened
Ideas from Australia, Denmark, and Taiwan can help American district and school leaders as they shape their reopening plans.
11 min read
Students at the Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan, perform The Little Mermaid in full costume and masks.
Students at the Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan, perform The Little Mermaid in full costume and masks.
Photo courtesy of Dustin Rhoades/Taipei American School