Urgency of International Mindedness in Education
Urgency of International Mindedness in Education
There are existences when statistical information can enact profound changes upon people leading to social change of historical proportions. One such instance of deeply affecting statistics is the article “If the World was a Village.” In a world of information abundance, consumers’ sense of scale and gravity of situations often is diminished or disproportionate. There are those 21st century consumers that are bombarded and overloaded with information, data, facts, and figures. Information deluge can interfere with a person’s sense and perception of a situation; just as there are arguments that excess violence in media representations numbs consumers of violent media to actual violence, information overload numbs consumers to statistics. The approach of the article is simple and effective. Instead of presenting information about the world’s population with actual figures in the millions and billions, the author scales the world down to the size of a village of 1,000 people.
Scaling the world down to a village allows readers to consider numbers that are more reasonable to retain in the mind. The human mind cannot fully conceptualize astronomical figures such as the distance between the Earth and the sun, the distance between stars, or the distance between protons. It is not that we cannot understand them; it is that those numbers function on a scale that for many people is fairly unimaginable. Therefore, in order to reach more readers, the author strategizes by shrinking the world to a size that relatively more people can understand and visualize clearly. The author presents simple facts in a simple fashion. The author leaves the thought-work for the reader to do. The author does not bombard or overwhelm with a manifesto or agenda. The paper argues that due in part to the presentation of world facts in “If the World was a Village,” it is paramount to increase international mindedness across industries and institutions, especially education.
Differentiated instruction is essential in education today for several reasons. The reality of the 21st century world is that many people are able to communicate and share with people they have never met and from whom they live great distances. The world has greater access to itself due in large part to the digital media revolution, including social media and the Internet. The reality of the world spreads around far more quickly, with greater variation, and with greater exposure than ever before in human history. We all are much more aware of how we are all living wherever we are. Abject poverty, illiteracy, and gender-based violence are clearer, sharper, and realer for more people around the world. For Americans, these issues are no longer content on commercials or print advertising. We can directly communicate with people experience life in a manner relatively different and yet somehow similar to our own. Education must acknowledge this if humanity is to survive.
The institution of education is in prime position to influence the course of human history. Schools assist in the shaping and development of the future leaders and citizens of the world. Schools can help prepare children, teens, and adults for the world we live in now and for the world that is coming. In the world we live in, people do not have access to clean water; people are illiterate; a disproportionate amount of people control the majority of the wealth and resources; diseases and infant mortality are still issues at the forefront; and there many issues relating to sexual and gender inequality. Schools can at least increase the awareness of the human condition around the Earth, and not simply within the country in which the school is. I would include articles such as this in my instruction in Mathematics to middle school students. I would use resources that reflected internationally minded problems, situations, and reflected cultural diversity in the characters within the problems. I would expose my students to news from around the world asking them to consider where the mathematics in the issue exists. It is not necessary to be heavy-handed with international mindedness. In fact, if it is forced upon students, they may be quicker to reject it. If the international mindedness of education is in the background and ever-present, students will assimilate and integrate it on a sub- or unconscious level. The students will gradually become more internationally minded naturally until the term “internationally minded” is no longer necessary because we will live in a world where everyone thinks like this all the time and it does not need to be taught.
Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education. (2012) Available from http://casieonline.org. 2012 March 27.
Gapminder. (2012) Available from http://www.gapminder.org. 2012 March 28.
Worldmapper. (2012) Available from http://www.worldmapper.org. 2012 March 28.
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