Wednesday’s HA event at Leeds Trinity had a stall manned by Pearson which set out their ‘Global Learning Programme‘. At the start of the keynote we were told of a CPD event being run by the university (and paid for by it too) deisgned to celebrate work being done by teachers on ‘Global Learning’. Global Learning is clearly ‘a thing’ right now.
The HA website has more details of its take on Global Learning, and I understand that they have been helping Pearson to develop the programme, offered on a website here. It’s hard to argue with the HA’s point that
“much of the history curriculum provides a clear context for the current debate about poverty, globalisation and inter-relationships between the countries of the world, and helps students understand the current debate.”
My mind is also drawn back to Donald Cumming’s talk to the SHP conference in July 2014 in which he rightly pointed out that we cannot really understand the history of any country (and perhaps especially not the one in which I live and teach) unless we understand the history of the countries around it and the wider world. Globalisation and global interdependency are not recent developments, and we’re not really teaching history if we deny this to our students.
Whilst I was reading the key aims of global learning cited by the GLP and the HA, I wondered about the kinds of substantive topics that we could use to help achieve these various aims to
help young people understand their role in a globally interdependent world and explore strategies by which they can make it more just and sustainable,
familiarise pupils with the concepts of interdependence, development, globalisation and sustainability
enable teachers to move pupils from a charity mentality to a social justice mentality
stimulate critical thinking about global issues, both at a whole school and pupil level
help schools promote greater awareness of poverty and sustainability
enable schools to explore alternative models of development and sustainability in the classroom.
It seems to me that there are many substantive topics that we could use in trying to reach these aims. I can also see that thinking about these aims could encourage us to think differently about how we can ask students to think about the past from a global perspective. Most obviously a comparative ‘long view’ approach of the kind developed by Shemilt and Rick Rogers offers us a way of brining a historical eye to these aims. By comparing and contrasting different modes of trade, causes of poverty and wealth, and the development of campaigns against injustice over time we can help students understand how people in the past have wrestled with these issues.
If I can, I’d like to go to the conference, if only to see what it means to ‘enable teachers to move pupils from a charity mentality to a social justice mentality’. It is this aspect of ‘global learning’ that causes me most trouble, and has since I started teaching. When teaching histoy we are, in my opinion, teaching a way of thinking, rather than what to think about a particular event. History doesn’t guarantee that our students will have a particular opinion about a topic, but should aim that they are well informed enough to form an opinion that is well-supported. There are no single right answers to many historical questions, though there are lots of wrong ones!
So, I need to clear up what it means to be “moving students from a charity mentality to a social justice mentality”, so that I can make sure that I’m not trying to replicate my own mindset or political views in those of my students.