Global Consciousness

Trippy image, I know… But let’s talk about global consciousness all the same, shall we?

Essential characteristics of global consciousness

Mansilla and Gardner (2007) talk about awareness of the local (global sensitivity), informed reflection of our world’s development (global understanding), and perception of ourselves as global actors (global self). I find that when fostering a global consciousness it is essential to realize the power of the individual. Through globalization, I feel the individual has gained more power, most notably in the role of consumers. We might feel that monstrous transnational corporations (TNCs) are controlling the world, but the true power lies with the consumer. Through education we can enlighten people on their power, thus motivating them to change the world around them, instead of simply adapting to it.

Through globalization, I feel the individual has gained more power, most notably in the role of consumers.

A second essential characteristic I see is the perception of new ideas and change. Global consciousness must include openness to change, WITHOUT the fear of loosing ones identity. As our societies continue to merge (through immigration, travel, business, etc.) we have to learn that accepting the new is not the same as abandoning the old. Why are some people so vehemently against gay marriage or women showing their hair in public? Perhaps because they are scared that their way of life is threatened. A more global consciousness would ensure us that it is possible for different cultures to live side by side without any culture being compromised.

Why are some people so vehemently against gay marriage or women showing their hair in public? Perhaps because they are scared that their way of life is threatened.

Global consciousness versus cultural awareness

The word itself – global – encompasses more than does the word culture. In my opinion, global consciousness (sensitivity, understanding, and self) goes beyond culture. We are not only talking about accepting each other’s culture. We are talking about viewing the world as an interdependent system, and accepting that we can’t isolate one nation or one culture. We are linked through our economy, pop culture, pandemics, the Internet… Global consciousness, as opposed to cultural awareness, allows us to recognize these links, embrace them, and maybe even develop them.

Challenges for the educator when developing global consciousness in the classroom.

As a teacher you are automatically an authority. You may re-label the teacher as a “guide” or a “mentor”, but in most school systems, the teacher still give the marks, and thus holds the power. It is challenging to create an educational environment where the students are not in some way mimicking the teacher. Accepting authority as truth is counterproductive to fostering creativity and the generation of new ideas, as Bloom (2004) calls for in education. Also, I feel that trying to teach global consciousness runs the risk of enhancing the perception of “us” and “them”.

It is challenging to create an educational environment where the students are not in some way mimicking the teacher.

How can we convey the idea that we are not the reference point from which we can compare other cultures? Tracing a soda bottle back to its producers and raw materials does of course teach us how we are inter-linked, but how can the educator avoid the perception that the US consumers are the final destination (and by default that the other inferior groups have contributed to make a final product meant for Americans consumption)? How would that lesson go down if it were taught to the children of the orange pickers?

References:

Bloom, D. E. (2004). Globalization and Education: An Economic Perspective. In M. M. Suarez-Orozco & D. B. Qin-Hilliard (Eds.) Globalization: Culture and education in the new millennium. London, England: University of California Press.

Mansilla, V. B. & Gardner, H. (2007) From Teaching Globalization to Nurturing Global Consciousness. In M. M. Suárez-Orozco (Ed.). Learning in the Global Era: International Perspectives on Globalization and Education. London, England: University of California Press.

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