Thoughts About Arts Education

Globally Minded Education | Theory, Practice, and a Response to the 6Cs

This post is in response to Junior AQ (Administration Focus) analyzing the Fullen article with a SWOT lens.

"Students are the agents of change."  But we, as an educational community, need to work together to sow the seeds of globally minded education.  

In Michael Fullen's article, "Why Helping Humanity Should Be Core to Learning," he states that students are, "catalysts for changing teaching and learning; they are also partners in changing the school and forces for change in society itself."  

Students wanting to do "good", studying humanity to make positive changes in their environment, is nothing new.  The motivation to do good is wired in our DNA, inherent in our nature.  A perfect example is my two-year-old niece and her desire to help with any task.  

My two-year-old niece also knows how to make Facetime calls. An example of how technology and connections dictate our behaviour in 2018.  Hence the need to look at the 6Cs as a foundation for education, focusing on the following as a foundation for navigating the world:  character education, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. 

According to Fullen, teachers play an essential role, "helping students focus, giving them scope to engage with each other, examining learning designs, assessing results and deriving lessons for improving learning."   By focusing on learning, and looking at the process of how students learn and make meaning of their learning, the lessons can speak to these skills, and not only the memorization of concepts.  

The strength of looking at education through the lens of helping humanity as a core learning concept is that we are developing students with self, group, and global reflection skills.  In our connected world, students need to be able to analyze what is being presented.  High-quality resources, such as the World's Largest Lesson, will provide educators with adaptable lesson plans around globe key issues, such as hunger, poverty, and access to clean water.  An example of a lesson, Hunger is Not a Game, is available by clicking here.  

A potential weakness and/or threat to the notion of educating the whole child is "theory vs. practice."  In theory, all educators believe that they are teaching transferable skills that will allow students to develop the 6Cs competencies and their notion of what it is like to be a human in our ever-connected world.  Yet, putting the theory into practice can be difficult or inconsistent.   To teach the 6Cs means that educators need to adapt lessons to explicitly meet the 6Cs.   The barrier to this is a fixed mindset around "transferable skills" and "curriculum."   All too often, we hear educators say "must get through the curriculum and get through the material so we can have an assessment."  I have had first-hand experience with a resiliency project geared towards student health and well-being where educators were asked to adapt the resources to their subject matter.  In theory, we created a series of tools that would make learning resiliency skills explicit within any subject - just needed adaptation from the classroom teacher.  Yet, not all of my colleagues saw the importance of teaching resiliency skills as the lessons took away from their curriculum and the planning took away from marking time.   In theory, we are aware that in order to have real progress, educators need to spend time carefully examining if their lessons are speaking to the core of who students are as people, allowing them to develop these important human skills through the lens of the individual subject.  Educational districts can support this work by granting release time, resources and access to successful 6C lessons and/or unit plans across all disciplines.  

The opportunity for enriched learning is huge.  The world is moving quickly, and the demand for digital literacy, understanding, and comprehension is high.  Using collaboration, visual thinking techniques, global resources and reflection, the community can work together to help students build their knowledge of the 6Cs, which will, in turn, help them reach out and help the world in whatever way they see fit. 

So, let's nourish the seed of humanity and use explicit strategies to grow the community's approach to 6C competencies, so everyone can benefit from the garden of the world.