A Tapestry in the Making: The Strands of Global Education a Reader Response by Tanya De Joode

A Tapestry in the Making: The Strands of Global Education a Reader Response by Tanya De Joode

Exploring Pike’s article regarding the various perspectives on Global Education in Canada was very timely for me. I had just attended the first class of my Teaching for Global Justice and Peace elective course and was intrigued with Professor Maclure’s lecture regarding the concept of transformative learning and helping students to become active agents of change rather than to passively accept the flawed norms of society. Still contemplating these ideas, I boarded the bus for home that Friday afternoon and decided to get a head start on the readings for PED 3102, in particular the article by Pike. I was surprised to see that the contents of the essay are quite similar to the notions posited in Maclure’s class, and it gave me the opportunity to further explore my thoughts on global education and how I wanted to define my role as a global educator.

When I first accepted the offer to attend the B.Ed. program at Ottawa University, I applied to the Global Perspectives cohort with the original understanding that I would learn to foster citizenship in the classroom and to celebrate diverse cultures and backgrounds in order to model the positive attitudes that would “make the world a better place.” I had envisioned the scope and purpose of global education to be much like the components described by Pike (2000) that are the consensus in Canada, including the idea that it empowers learners to take responsibility for their futures (p.221-223). However, something I had not really considered in my role as a global educator is the promotion of social activism among students, explained by Pike (2000) as one of the several “unspoken tensions” (p.226). I am not oblivious to the problems with our society but, naively, it had not occurred to me that I could facilitate such revolutionary social change through what and how I teach my students. I can’t believe that this is even a groundbreaking revelation; I am disheartened that I thought I could help to change the world without actually equipping students with the knowledge of how to activate that change. To promote empathy and compassion in my students is all well and good if I want to mould a generation of caring but passive people just like me, but if I truly want to make a difference, I must equip students with the ability to question the status quo and rebuke the norm.

Unfortunately, with this revelation comes the dilemma with which I now struggle. How can I advocate true social reform within the confines of the current school system? I want to encourage my students to challenge the things that cause global issues and crises, including the policies and values of our society and the authorities who make critical decisions, but am I then to tell them that the school system and the rules within are the exception? That seems terribly contradictory to me. Change the world, but don’t speak unless you’re asked to? This attitude does not embody what it is I would be trying to teach.

Then, there are my own lived experiences as a learner; I was never taught to look at the problems of the world in a way that would incent me to actively change it. Without question, the state of this planet saddens me; I know it is filled with injustice and hostility. But what could I possibly do to transform it? This lack of direction, of knowledge and tools that would bring about effective change, is also cause for my apprehension. I want to do everything in my power to help students become the activists they are all capable of being, but can a conformist like me talk the talk when I myself have never really walked the walk?

I hope that, one day soon, I can reconcile these discrepancies with the ideals I now have about what it means to be a global educator. As much as I still strongly believe in my primary concepts of global education, I feel now that I would be doing my students and the world a great disservice if I did not integrate active social change as part of that education.

References

Pike, G. (2000). A Tapestry in the Making: the Strands of Global Education. In Tara Goldstein & David Selby (Eds.), Weaving Connections: Educating for Peace, Social and Environmental Justice (pp. 218-241). Toronto, CA: Sumach Press.