To receive credit for my College of International Studies internship this semester, I did some research on the relatively new, but incredibly important K-12 curriculum “global education.” My research left me feeling inspired, angry, and full of unanswered questions. Here is what I learned and what I’ve realized upon completing my research.
As an International Studies major, I knew little about the origins and development of my field. I suspected it was relatively new, and the confused reactions of my relatives upon telling them my course of study proves that it’s not exactly understood by most Americans or viewed as one of the esteemed or impressive academic paths among those outside academia (my relative’s next remark was usually “you’re so smart I thought you would’ve done engineering or gone to med school!”). I’ll spare you my angry rant about being misunderstood by most of my family, but this anecdote goes to show what little value most Americans give to a global mindset.
In my paper, I consider K-12 global education rather than that of higher education, but the same issues of above prevail in this context, as well. Despite various governmental and non-governmental efforts to sell a rhetoric of global understanding and embracing multiculturalism, educators have received practically no detailed instruction on how to form and teach a global curriculum. And it shows, trust me. The majority of Americans in K-12 stop studying a foreign language after two years, barely gaining a beginner’s grasp on one. Outside of a typically Eurocentric World History class, students learn next to nothing about the lives of people outside of their nation. And sadly, many people view the idea of global education as unnecessary, and even un-American and “leftist.”
Looking back on my early education, I’m disturbed upon realizing that I received nothing close to a global education. I took a Spanish class in the fourth and fifth grade as an elective, and we ended up watching a Spanish VHS twice a week for fifty minutes. Then, in highschool, my World History class was nothing more than a dense textbook listing British and French monarchs and their stories. French classes were my favorite, but ended after sophomore year was one among two other languages, Latin and Spanish.
So what can be done about this major gap in our education system? My paper touches on some potential answers, but it is ultimately something that can only be fixed gradually and with lots of cooperation among educators and willingness among Americans.