Is peace education “different” from education?

Peace education takes place in most classrooms worldwide, though usually unintentionally. I think most teachers hope to install in their students a sense of compassion, kindness and self-awareness. In recent years, there has also been an increased focus on environmental studies— what Dale Snauwaert refers to as planetary ethics. Many of us think that humans are born with certain basic ideals and values: you shouldn’t harm others, you shouldn’t lie, you should help someone in pain. Because we assume that these values are innately present in us all, we tend to take them for granted. This, perhaps, is why peace education has not received the attention it deserves in the school system.

Many of us think that humans are born with certain basic ideals and values: you shouldn’t harm others, you shouldn’t lie, you should help someone in pain. Because we assume that these values are innately present in us all, we tend to take them for granted.

When advocating for peace education, I think it important to establish that it is indeed different from education (if not, we can simply add a peace class in the curriculum, and voilà, we’ve done our part)… What can peace education teach that normal education cannot? Well, first, I think it’s necessary to point out that we all hold prejudice (against teenagers, Israelis, women, Black Americans, Buddhists, rapists, nuns, catholic priests, “tree-huggers”…). We are all products of our culture and our societies. Dale Snauwaert quotes Immanuel Kant: “we only have access to the world as we see it through our eyes. We filter out certain things, and let other things in. We construct our experiences.” Our mind projects (perhaps unconsciously) our culture.

This is where peace education is different from “normal” education. Peace education seeks to raise self-awareness, so that we can recognize our own prejudices and presumptions, and actively work to change them. Peace education is not only about acquiring knowledge, fostering imagination, and encouraging critical thought (as are the most noble goals of “normal” education); is it about putting all these skills to use. If education is a weapon, then peace education is the instructions of how to use it (to the benefit of all). That is where I see the difference.

Peace education seeks to raise self-awareness, so that we can recognize our own prejudices and presumptions, and actively work to change them.

What does it mean that peace education is normative?
Norms refers to shared values. When we say that peace education is normative, then, it means that we wish to install a set of common values in all people; a framework we can all work within; a set of principles we can refer to when interacting with each other. Again, it is important that we don’t take values for granted. Values are culturally constructed! I don’t think peace education seeks to establish a static common value system, but rather the ethical tools to examine different norms and value systems. If we are “peace educated” we know that our values are not innate in all humans, but rather culturally constructed. One shared value we all might have is openness: we must be open to the other’s perspective, and always seek to understand the other. As Kwame Appiah (2006) states, “people are different […] and there is much to learn form our differences” (p. xv).

 

References:
Appiah, K. (2006). “Chapter One: Introduction: Making Conversation.” In Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: W.W. Norton.

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MOOCs and books

Are Massive Online Courses (MOOCs) changing the university classroom for better or for worse?  

Could we say that the MOOC is to the university what the Kindle is to the book? Or what the TV was to the radio? This is not after all, the first time the arrival of something new has brought about discussion on the threat of the traditional. Both the radio and the book, however, are still faring fairly well in our modern, televised reality, despite the dismal prediction that once were made.

I see MOOCs becoming an addition to the traditional university, not its replacement. In this regard, therefore, it can change the classroom for the better. Online courses can supplement and improve instruction, but I doubt it can ever take the place of the traditional university altogether. Anath Argawal (2013) claims that healthcare and transportation has gone through transformative changes, while education remains the same. I disagree with his view. Yes, healthcare has changed through discoveries such as the X-ray machine, nano-technological surgery, and electromagnetic measurements…but we still talk to a doctor, don’t we? We still need human hands to control, explain, and analyze. Similarly, we might be driving cars instead of carriages, but there’s still a human behind the steering wheel/reigns. New technology has the potential of improving efficiency and access greatly, but I see it as enhancers of a human system. Will the professor become obsolete? Will the classroom disappear? I refuse to believe that, at least not until the doctors and their offices disappear as well.

References:

Agarwal, A. (Jun 2013). Why Massive Open Online Courses (Still) Matter [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/anant_agarwal_why_massively_open_online_courses_ still_matter#

The World Bank, the UN, and the development of education worldwide

At the core of a discussion on the UN and the development of education worldwide, are the underlying assumptions on education and national development. Depending on the lens through which you assess UN’s contributions, it can appear reinforcing or detrimental; positive or negative.

Underpinning UNESCO’s motivation was the Western world’s view of mass education as a pathway to democracy and development.

Karen Mundy (1999) reminds us that underpinning UNESCO’s motivation was the Western world’s view of mass education as a pathway to democracy and development. She sees one of UNESCO’s main limitations as their adoption of a Western prototype of schooling, coupled with a top-down structure of multilateral assistance. It’s only in recent decades that a more “indigenous” way of approaching development has been welcomed (and then arguably only rhetorically…).

It might seem ridiculous to fuss over “details” in UN’s approach to multilateralism and educational assistance: after all, where would we be without a UN today? Said differently: who cares about how they get there, as long as they get there. Thousands of UN schools are being operated worldwide, compulsory mass education is the norm in UN members states, UN-supported research provides valuable baseline data and statistics, allowing governments and policy makers to craft efficient solutions where needed. Why the complaints?

Despite unquestionable progress, I see two main areas of concern with UN’s contribution to global education: sustainability and cultural pluralism.

Thousands of UN schools are being operated worldwide, compulsory mass education is the norm in UN members states, UN-supported research provides valuable baseline data and statistics, allowing governments and policy makers to craft efficient solutions where needed. Why the complaints?

The sustainability of any program rests on the level of local input, from the initial planning phases to the construction and maintenance. Without ownership (or process and result) there can be no sustainability. This is rarely true for UN programs, at least in my experience. UN’s top-down strategies and (ludicrously paid) expatriate staff ensures that their presence remain one of detached— almost mysterious— power in the local community. The UN logos carry respect, yes, but also a sense of Western patriarchal pity. The come-in-and-fix-it approach to educational assistance can damage a program, even if the initially intent is based on wonderfully progressive ideas and strategies.

UN’s top-down strategies and (ludicrously paid) expatriate staff ensures that their presence remain one of detached— almost mysterious— power in the local community

Second, I am wary of UN’s failure to truly embrace local ideas, and loosen their grip on Western/U.S. notions of education purposes. The “indigenous aspect” becomes a superficial add-on to traditional UN strategic planning, not an integral part of their philosophy. And, as Kazuo Kuroda, asks, “should the agenda for education in developing countries be set by the World Bank or UNESCO? (Smith et al, 2007, p. 236).

The influential World Bank
The World Bank has immense influence in the development of education worldwide.

Do we want a world that works, or a world that works like the West? I think the UN’s inclusion of indigenous knowledge still bears traces of patriarchy; like an indulgent father humoring an imaginative child (yet remaining convinced that his way is better). Embracing non-Western concepts is not only about maintaining a global cultural pluralism, but also about discovering new (maybe even better) solutions.

Do we want a world that works, or a world that works like the West?

On a last note, I also find the internal competition between UN agencies rather telling. The focus on how to remain relevant, as opposed to how to be useful, is the downfall of all development agencies. In trying to convince the world that they are needed, the UNESCO, like many other agencies, spend more resources on internal reform and publications, than on developing effective programs. The World Bank, UNDP, UNICEF, and UNESCO struggle with program overlapping. The UN agencies need to accept that they can’t all be omnipotent. With more clearly defined responsibilities, these agencies might be able to focus more deeply in their area of expertise instead of trying to reach as broadly as possible in order to prove their importance.

References:

Mundy, K. (1999). Educational multilateralism in a changing world order: UNESCO and the limits of the possible. International Journal of Educational Development, 19(1): 27-52.

Smith, P., Pigozzi, M. J., Tomasevski, K., Bhola, H. S., Kuroda, K., & Mundy, K. (2007). UNESCO’s Role in Global Educational Development. Comparative Education Review, 51(2): 229-245.

“We are screwing them”

It is ironic that while our society as a whole is globalizing, we as individuals are so disconnected from each other. In the West, we find products from the developing world in our supermarkets, and in the South they listen to American pop songs. On the surface, it does indeed seem that we are approaching a unified global community. How is it, then, that we as consumers can be so removed from those who produce our goods? How is it possible, that in a world where information crosses the globe in a few seconds, we in the developed world remain so unaware of the conditions of our fellow global citizens?

perhaps are we too far removed to realize that we are in fact part of the perpetuation of an exploitative and unjust system.

The role of international organizations and MNCs
In the movie, “The Great African Scandal” (2007), we are introduced to the working conditions of farmers and miners in Ghana.

Market in Northern Ghana
Market in Northern Ghana

As I watch the rundown wooden huts, the barren farmland, and the extreme poverty, I ask myself: “Is this my fault? Am I responsible?” The program host, Robert Beckford, is quite direct in his accusation, saying, “we are screwing them.” (Beckford, 2007). But who are ‘we’? It is easy for us as individual consumers to point the finger at multinational corporations (MNCs) and the ‘evils’ of neo-colonialism, but it is not helping the situation to take on the role of powerless pawns when in fact we have the power to influence the current system. The genius of the capitalist system is that the ultimate power rests with the consumer, yet we seem to be too comfortable in our blissful ignorance to bother making an effort. Or perhaps are we too far removed to realize that we are in fact part of the perpetuation of an exploitative and unjust system.

What we see in Ghana today is a result of what Beckford refers to as ‘economic imperialism’. Ghana might have gained its political independence, but in economical terms, the country is still highly dependent on the West. The lives of many Ghanaian farmers are being dictated by international corporations and financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The sad fact is that the very institutions that should be helping Ghana are in fact increasing the gap between the industrialized West and the impoverished South. According to Beckford this is all a part of a calculated political process. The current inequalities we see in so many developing nations today, are a direct result of the capitalist agendas of Western MNCs and international financial institutions.

Paradoxically, it’s not only financially driven agendas that are ‘screwing’ the developing world; it is aid organizations as well. In the documentary, we learn that the American rice given as aid actually undermined the local rice farmers. Today, this continued import has nearly driven the Ghanaian rice farming to the ground.

From the empirical evidence in Ghana, we see that international organizations often can do more harm than good. In my opinion, this ties back to the point I made earlier, about us as consumers being so removed from the producers. Had the officials in the aid organizations had an in-depth knowledge of the reality ‘on the ground’, would they still have imported rice into Ghana? Often, I feel like Western companies and aid organizations simply throw money at poor nations in an attempt to redeem themselves from the mistakes made during colonialism. Instead of tackling the problem head-on, and humbly investigating the true causes of modern-day poverty, they design development programs and policies from their offices in the developed world. When visiting local villages, and witnessing how farmers live, it is evident that the development programs are not always working. There is still child labor on the cocoa plantations, there are still violations of human rights in the gold mines, and only 3% of fair trade produce is being bought from major export companies (Beckford, 2007). What are ‘we’ doing wrong?

Impeding and facilitating factors
In my opinion, the main impeding factors to development and education are (1) the lack of liability for non-national corporations, (2) the lack of economic protectionism, and (3) the dependence on foreign aid.

When the distance between worker and consumer stretches across continents, it is important that there are clear laws in place to make sure that the physical detachment does not also lead to a moral detachment

Firstly, there are not strict enough laws in place to ensure that MNCs take responsibility for their plantations, factories, and workers. An inherent problem with multinational corporations is, of course, that they feel no direct accountability towards the country in which their workers live. When the distance between worker and consumer stretches across continents, it is important that there are clear laws in place to make sure that the physical detachment does not also lead to a moral detachment.

Secondly, there needs to be more economic protectionism, at least in the growing phases of development. While an open market economy works well for a developed country, it endangers a developing country based mostly on primary production. If they allow cheaper international products on the market, it will damage the local industry, and increasing poverty.

Thirdly, I feel the classic mantra ‘trade, not aid’ still holds true. Small aid packages will not lead to sustainable development. Only through establishing a strong foundation within industries and education, can developing countries truly become independent.

In a country like Ghana, the abundant natural resources should be a facilitating factor. I believe that if a proper set of laws were put into action, the wealth from gold would benefit the country instead of enriching MNCs. As we know from countries like Botswana, a certain amount of government control can ensure that the revenue from natural resources goes back into developing the country by creating and improving public services, and strengthening national business.

The consumer responsibility
A corporation is a dangerous entity, as it dilutes responsibility among several different board members, shareholders, and even consumers. In the end, who is responsible for 10-year-old Baba having to work for his uncle and not being able to go to school? Who is responsible for pouring toxic waste into the drinking water of miners? On one side, we find the head of corporations claiming the consumers’ demand for lower prices force them to cut down on production cost. On the other hand, we have consumers requesting fair trade. The message of the documentary “The Great African Scandal” is clear: individual consumers have the power. We can refuse to buy products that are not certified fair trade. We can educate ourselves and others on the living conditions of the people making our chocolate, clothes, and electronic appliances. We can demand more transparency in MNCs’ financial spending and earnings, as well as request a debate around the efficiency of aid. When we realize that it is our money fueling this unequal situation, we might also realize that we are controlling the situation. When our money stops being spent on unfairly traded products, the corporations will be forced to adapt.

References:
Beckford, R. (Host, Producer), Kirby, K. (Director). (2007). The Great African Scandal [Video file]. Retrieved from http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-great-african-scandal/

Education, culture, and society

Jim Cummins – the multi-literacy specialist at the University of Toronto – spoke at a conference I attended last year. He stated that, “when students see themselves reflected in their learning, they are more likely to stay engaged and continue on with their education.”

This quote highlights the interrelationship between education, culture and society. Education is most effective when it is culturally relevant, and when children are allowed to learn within a system that not only benefits their society (e.g. making them into obedient citizens), but also benefits them.

In a globalized world the appreciation of “other” truths is essential to conflict resolution, global interaction, and the peaceful advancement of humanity.

Any educational system is a product of its society, BUT a society can also be transformed as a result of education. Similarly: education can be a tool for cultural reproduction, BUT through education we may also see a cultural transformation (in society and within each student). It is this intricate inter-dependence that I find so interesting.

I cite Michael Apple (2001) a lot: “Curriculum reflects what is considered by an education system as valid and legitimate knowledge” (as cited in Gross, 2006, p. 607). Education, then, is not synonymous to knowledge, as it is the society (or the government) that decides which “segments of truth” to include and exclude. It is crucial to keep this in mind as we go through our education – and to remind our children that the truth is never one-sided or definite. In a globalized world the appreciation of “other” truths is essential to conflict resolution, global interaction, and the peaceful advancement of humanity.

References:

Gross, Z. (2006). Power, Identity, and Organizational Structure as Reflected in Schools for Minority Groups: A Case Study of Jewish Schools in Paris, Brussels, and Geneva. Comparative Education Review, (50), 4. 603-624.

What we can learn by studying groups like the Uyghurs

I would argue that a lot of the people reading this post have grown up in relatively Western cultures. We have grown up with American movies and CNN news. We have attended schools where students sit by desks in square classrooms. Many of us think that majority rule (i.e. Western democracy) is a fair system – a system so fair, in fact, that it should be promoted in other parts of the world. The majority of us have completed a Western education, most likely taught in English. These are some features making up our culture.

We study minority cultures, we read about “exotic” life views and rituals. But why? What value does the study of unknown cultures hold, other than expand our cultural horizons; entertain us; make us reflect for a brief moment on our own view of reality? Will the study of groups like the Uyghurs (sometimes written with an ‘i’) ever lead to anything more than research papers circulated in a tiny group of academics?

Why do we read and write in English in graduate school? Because at some point in history, the English-speaking world won a “battle”.

We can say the same about studying Somali clan culture or Aboriginal knowledge systems. Yes, these are interesting facts and stories, but how (if ever) will they counteract the hegemonic influence of Western values?

Gardener Bovingdon (2004) notes that, “single-stranded narratives intentionally suppress evidence of historical alternatives [and that] they write competing narratives out of history” (p. 354). Why do we read and write in English in graduate school? Because at some point in history, the English-speaking world won a “battle”. The winners write history, as we all know, which is why we all understand terrorism as a bad thing. Suicide bombers, killing embassy workers in the Middle East are universally understood as “the enemy”, right? What, then, about the Western forces bombing Afghan villages, killing civilians, spreading fear, terrorizing the local population? How would the future history books read, if the villagers wrote them? The same can be said of the Uyghur civil/separatist movements. The US and UN agreed with China in 2002, in the labeling of such groups as terrorists.

History is not unbiased or true, yet the history books tend to portray them as such. It is easy to forget that, “official histories […] depend on tendentious interpretation of key terms and events” (Bovingdon, 2004, p. 356).

History is not unbiased or true, yet the history books tend to portray them as such.

The importance of studying unknown groups and narratives, then, is perhaps not to change policies or revolutionize systems. Rather, it is to continue reminding us that history is biased. The narrative of historic events that we learn in school; that we see in the news; that we read in books, are not true; they are a version of the truth. By studying the Uyghurs, we are not just learning about an alternative narrative of Chinese history, but we are also reminded that all history was once written by the “winners”. That, to me, is the most valuable argument in favor of the preservation and diffusion of indigenous cultures. I would never expect indigenous languages and cultures to challenge the current “ruling” systems, but I would expect them to function as reminders that there always are alternate perceptions of reality and history.

References:

Bovingdon, G. (2004). Contested Histories. In Starr, F. (2004). Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Borderland. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, pp. 353-374.

The role of religion and language in public education

I would argue that religion and language are two of the aspects of our identity that defines us the most. Further, it would not be wrong to say that education should provide a safe and nurturing environment for children to develop a sense of self and finding their place in society. Does it not follow that religion and languages should have a central part of public education?

Ultimately, we must determine how much of a child’s education should take place in schools (the public sphere), and how much should be left up to parents and/or religious institutions (the private sphere). Is it necessary for the state to provide culturally relevant education to all citizens, or is it enough simply to facilitate this by for example cutting down the time students have to spend in school? At a school I taught at, students were off Wednesday and Friday afternoons, at which time most of them attend classes in subjects like Islam, foreign languages, or other subjects not provided by the school. The school was so multicultural (both in terms of religious beliefs and languages), that the administration could not possibly meet the needs of all students. Is this practice nurturing diversity and multiculturalism, or is it strengthening the divisions between ethnic groups in society?

Ultimately, we must determine how much of a child’s education should take place in schools (the public sphere), and how much should be left up to parents and/or religious institutions (the private sphere)

Milligan (2006) observes that by separating Islamic education and public schools, the Philippines government is producing citizens who are “virtual foreigners in their own country” (p. 416); they are Muslim Filipinos who see their nationality as being completely separate from their religion and language (Arabic). Would decentralization of the educational system remedy this situation? Could we have certain school districts with “Islamic” schools, and others with “Christian” schools? Or how about introducing Arabic as language of instruction (LOI) as an option for Muslim students? Would such arrangements lead to a healthy flourishing of cultures, or would we see closed-off religious ghettos, each with its own educational system? My worry is that through decentralization and less nation-state control we are building boxes that only fit certain stereotypes. I mean, what happens to the Christian minority in a Muslim area? Or what of the children from mixed families?

My worry is that through decentralization and less nation-state control we are building boxes that only fit certain stereotypes.

I’m asking a lot of questions in this post, and it’s not for the rhetorical effect, but because I really do have trouble making up my mind on this one. As I mentioned above, I think it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the difference between education and schooling, and of what we want our schools to provide. Michael W. Apple (2001) states that, “[c]urriculum reflects what is considered by an education system as valid and legitimate knowledge” (as cited in Gross, 2006, p. 607), but by this definition most nation-states today would come off as rather neglectful. In Rwanda, for example, the national language is at best allotted a couple of hours each week, while imported languages like English and French have taken over as language of instruction. What signal does this send to the children about their origins and culture? Which values are transmitted through the national curriculum?

Perhaps it is a (wrongful) essentialist assumption to think that Muslim students require Arabic classes to be “whole”, or that Jewish students should be entitled to Hebrew classes because their language is what makes them Jewish. From my own experience, though, I would claim that there is a lot of identity tied up in language. Like May (2008), I feel that “[c]hanging the language preference of the state and civil society, or at least broadening then, would better reflect the cultural and linguistic demographics of most of today’s multinational (and polyethnic) states” (p. 164).

References:

Gross, Z. (2006). Power, Identity, and Organizational Structure as Reflected in Schools for Minority Groups: A Case Study of Jewish Schools in Paris, Brussels, and Geneva. Comparative Education Review 50(4): 603-624.

May, S. (2008). Language and minority rights: Ethnicity, nationalism, and the politics of language. Routledge: New York.

Milligan, J. A. (2006). Reclaiming an Ideal: The Islamization of Education in the Southern Philippines. Comparative Education Review, 50(3): 410-430.

Colonial residues in education

The pros and cons of colonial legacy in Africa and Asia. Was education the significant factor in sending the “Asian Tigers” on their way, while most of the African colonies sunk into poverty?

Discussing former colonies, Hassana Alidou’s (2004) states, “Political independence does not necessarily lead to educational or economic independence” (p. 195). We can especially see how former colonial powers has continued its economic influence through The World Bank’s structural adjustment programs in the 1980s and on. As the Human Capital Theory (HCT) linked education with economic growth, controlling and influencing national school system became more important. Not surprisingly, Tan (1997) notes that, “the first signs of a major reorientation in education policy appeared in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War” (p. 303). This was when the field of development truly accelerated, and as soon as education was seen in connection with national growth and development, schools became battlefields for power struggles. Now, several good things can be said both for HCT and Western influence on education in the Global South. For one, it brought legitimacy and validity to expansion of national education…

However, I see the (post)colonial influence on education as bittersweet: one on hand increased availability and the establishment of secondary and tertiary educational institutions, but on the other decreased local autonomy and relevance.

With roots in the colonial system, the school system is often hierarchical and didactic, undermining the value of local languages and ways of life

In Palestine, for example, the restriction of access to education has been a way to control the population, both through limiting access to higher forms of education, and by threatening teachers and students. The Israeli policy on targeting education as a method of punishment was first seen during the second Intifada (Abu-Saad & Champagne, 2006).

In much of post-colonial Africa, Western influence has brought about the establishment of universities, and a massive expansion of public schooling. However, as Alidou (2004) points out, all these improvements have been built with European templates and languages. With roots in the colonial system, the school system is often hierarchical and didactic, undermining the value of local languages and ways of life.

Unlike Africa, a lot of Asian school systems opted for national languages of instruction and locally relevant textbooks. Indeed, we learn from Tan’s (1997) article that Hong Kong and Singapore both made efforts to localize the curriculum. Could this choice be the reason “The Asian Tigers” prospered, while large parts of Africa suffered from negative economic growth?

References:
Abu-Saad, I. & Champagne, D. (2006). Introduction: A historical context of Palestinian Arab education. American Behavioral Scientist, 49(9): pp. 1035-1051.

Alidou, H. (2004). Medium of instruction in post-colonial Africa. In J. W. Toellefson & A.B.M. Tsui, (Eds.), Medium of instruction policy: Which agenda? Whose agenda? NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum (pp. 195-214).

Tan, J. (1997). Education and colonial transition in Singapore and Hong Kong: Comparisons and contrasts. Comparative Education, 33(2), 303-312.

Globalization: dispersing local cultures, not destroying them.

Globalization is an irreversible process, and discussing to which extent it is harmful on the local level, is meaningless at this point. Like an avalanche reshaping the landscape, globalization is well on its way to permanently changing the way we view the world, as well as each individual’s role in it. We cannot ignore globalization, much like we cannot ignore an avalanche. Our only option is to work on finding a way to ride on top of the immense wave of change, and redefine the new world on our own terms. Do we want this new globalized reality to be defined by multinational corporations (MNCs) and what the marketplace views as beneficial? Do we allow neo-colonialism to take root, and dictate the knowledge transmitted through multimedia and the Internet?

Kubow and Fossum (2007) point out that what we call globalization is in fact better described as a Westernization, and that it exits a risk that “global society develops predominantly in the image of the privileged developed world” (p. 292). While the global communication portals have been opened, it seems the flows of knowledge, ideas, and values are unilateral. The American brand Coca-Cola is commonplace in even the most underdeveloped areas of the world (Brooks et al., p. 311), and the presence of a McDonald’s restaurant has become a measurement for a country’s economic development (De Leo & Telasi, 2012).

Being global does not contradict preserving local worldviews and values; on the contrary, it should mean creating a platform for cultural exchange and sharing of knowledge and wisdom

I’m deeply worried by what I see as a loss of local cultures and practices. What concerns me even more is the assumption many people make, that this Westernization is inescapable. Many of us have settled with the idea that the erosion of traditions and culture is a natural – albeit regrettable – result of globalization. I strongly disagree. It is evident that the Western culture has not suffered, but rather has spread throughout the world at record speed, aided by what Friedman so accurately coined the “flattening of the world”. Why should we not allow – or at the very least encourage – cultures from Africa, Asia, and South-America to spread to the West? Must the global transmission of knowledge remain unilateral?

As an educator I fear that what we now call ‘globalization’ might turn into a ‘homogenization’ of the people of the world, as Kubow and Fossum (2007) warns us about. This is not how I wish to redefine the new world arising from the ‘globalization avalanche’. I call for a true globalization, where the portals of knowledge are multilateral, and all peoples and nations have a place. Being global does not contradict preserving local worldviews and values; on the contrary, it should mean creating a platform for cultural exchange and sharing of knowledge and wisdom. The main challenge in achieving this, of course, is educating the coming generations on global issues, and arousing a sense of global identity.

Upon entering a new era of “web-enabled global collaboration” (Friedman, 2005) it is crucial to steer the globalization process in the direction we as global citizens desire. As Friedman explains, the third era of globalization will be spearheaded by individuals: not countries or companies. It is down to each and every one of us to take an active part in sharing knowledge across country borders, religious beliefs, and ethnicity. Educators will play an important part in preparing young citizens to not only accept and understand globalization, but to recognize the potential it unlocks in moving towards a more peaceful, tolerating world.

References:

Brooks, I., Weatherston, J., & Wilkinson, G. (2010). Globalisation, challenges and changes. In The international business environment (pp 306-336). Retrieved from http:// www.catalogue.pearsoned.co.uk

De Leo, P. & Telasi, F. (2012, May) McDonalization. (Unpublished dissertation). Università degli studi di Milano-Biccocia, Italy, Dipartimento di Economia, Metodi Quantitativi e Strategie di Impresa website: dipeco.economia.unimib.it

Friedman, T. (2005). The World is Flat. [Video file] Presentation at MIT. Retrieved from http://video.mit.edu/watch/the-world-is-flat-9145/

McLuhan, M. (1965). Mcluhan Predicts World Connectivity. [Video file] Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/arts-entertainment/media /marshall-mcluhan-the-man-and-his-message/mcluhan-predicts-world-connectivity.html

Kubow, P.K. & Fossum, P.R. (2007). Comparative Education: Exploring Issues in International Context. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.