‘Naked Indifference’ The How’s and Hurdles of Global Citizenship

Two posts that have inspired me this morning to post my own thoughts are still swimming their way through my gray matter…

The first is Graham Wegner’s post at “Teaching Generation Z” entitled “A Few Basic Thoughts About Global Citizenship” . A timely topic, as our school recently adopted a new graduation portfolio element entitled ‘global citizenship’ and created the aspects and criteria together in a staff meeting.
While I wholeheartedly agree with our school’s move towards promoting global citizenship, I agree with Graham’s sentiment that implementing this in the classroom is a tough one:

There are a few barriers including an already crowded curriculum that has very broad outcomes relating to global collaboration and participation in global communities, teachers (and education systems) who think only in local terms, traditional media outlets that are used frequently by students that don’t cover issues of inequity and social justice well (or at all) and very different interpretations of the term, “global citizen”. ( “A Few Basic Thoughts About Global Citizenship” )

British Columbia’s Social Studies curriculum, or what I’ve seen of it, seems to have made strong inroads into providing time and space in the curriculum for these crucial and ever important issues to be explored. I would also like to mention that recent upper elementary socials texts and products such as ‘Critical Challenges Across the Curriculum’ are outstanding in their injection of global issues into the classroom environment. I don’t usually plug for profit resources, but these are outstanding (and props to Neil Smith, one of my former ed profs who collaborated on some of the ‘Critical Challenges’ curriculum resources and dropped a ‘pre published pilot’ version of one in my hands for free when I was a student teacher who had practicum placement and grade switched mid-swing. The only cost he asked of me was to submit a written evaluation of the resource from the trenches of teaching…).
As I commented on Graham’s post, there seems to be a divide, perhaps institutionally, between advocating and pushing/teaching for global citizenship and modeling it.
Case in point: our school has recently adopted a gym strip policy whereby all students in at least the secondary school and perhaps k-12 are required to wear a school provided gym strip. This comes on the heels of a chapel presentation where Stacey T. clearly and rationally outlined issues of unfair labour practices in terms of sweatshops and unfair trade.
Our school’s gym strip probably will not be sweat free and will come to the tune of thousands of dollars in initial output and continued spending as new students enter our school each year and transition in growth and between campuses. This is not a one time purchase, but the start, in my opinion, of a long term relationship between our school and a clothing supplier.
We advocate for global citizenship, but our practices seem to fly in the face of that advocacy, and students know hypocrisy when they see it (I also mentioned in my comments to Graham and will mention here that I am by no means free and clear in this issue. My wardrobe still represents many companies that do not act in ethical ways, but I am in the process of seeking out alternatives and changing my spending habits. I also want to make known that when I began advocating for ‘sweat free’ gym strip in our school, the business relationship was already under way, and the school had already had an open meeting where they ‘chose’ their gym strip. I missed a crucial moment to speak into this issue, and brought my concerns to the table a little late. I admit, I missed opportunities, as I wasn’t thinking in this context when I heard announcements regarding gym strip.)

If we want to teach global citizenship from the pulpit of our classrooms and schools, then we need to first take a long look at ourselves and our practices both personally as educators and institutionally. Students can smell a fake, and hypocrisy will only undercut any good natured attempt we make to advocate for raising awareness and promoting activism.

The second post, which amazingly ties into Graham’s around promoting global citizenship and just how do you do that, is Konrad Glogowski’s “It’s Getting Noisy” . This is a great and inspiring post, but I will just pull a small portion of it which is relevant to the discussion above. Glogowski’s post states that the nature of his classroom makes student centered exploration possible:

When a student’s blog reflects her journey from Animal Farm, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and then to human rights abuses in Third World countries, it becomes very clear that the freedom to explore, to share, to write, to “risk” learning is something that our students need in order to show us their best. True learning happens when learners stop seeing themselves as mere students who do homework and complete assignments. True learning happens when they don’t see it as learning. ( “It’s Getting Noisy” )

Perhaps this is one remedy to Graham’s question of where we can fit such issues in our curriculum. It seems that Glogowski’s initiative of providing a thought-provoking and socially relevant text for students to explore and turning them loose with blogs provided the student in the example above with the impetus to explore broader issues of ‘global citizenship’ (there was probably encouragement and maybe some ‘direction coaching’ from Glogowski along the way, but my guess is that it was in terms of a helpful guide, or trajectory coach, not a dictator). I agree wholeheartedly with Glogowski’s assertion that such examples demonstrate the importance of providing students with “freedom to explore, to share, to write, to ‘risk; learning” (Glogowski).

Two very inspiring and though provoking posts that have pulled me out of ‘blog hiatus’ this morning.

Another item that has hit my gray matter hard this morning is a photo via Aaron Nelson (from ‘Teacher in Development’) of protesters in Mexico City. I thought about blogging his photo, but I will just provide the link, as it may ruffle feathers if some teachers accessed it at school (which might not be a bad thing, as this is often the beginning of an important conversation). The photo smacked me upside the head with its content, and made me wonder what it would take for me to do what these people are doing. What would pull me out of my Western comfort and onto the stage of radical activism? Is there anything? How many would have to suffer and/or die for me to take my convictions to the streets and advocate? Have I become too comfortable and complacent?
Some strong and biting questions that Aaron’s photo snapped on the commute home from work has inspired. ‘Naked Indifference’ . As the title suggests, nakedness is involved, but Aaron has treated it in what I feel to be a tasteful and discreet way without diminishing the impact of the image.

A few raw and unpolished thoughts.


2 thoughts on “‘Naked Indifference’ The How’s and Hurdles of Global Citizenship

  1. Wow. What a thoughtful post. Nothing like a good smack in the head to start your day. Two smacks actually. I re-read Graham’s post today too.

    I don’t even know what I want to say, or how to respond. This is such an important issue, such a critical issue, that I fear doing it a disservice by throwing out a hasty comment.

    I’ve been reading Wesley Fryer’s weblog for some time now, and I am just clueing in. Wes is a passionate blogger, and a passionate advocate for active Global Citizenship. His posts about genocide prevention, the holocaust etc, have all been lost on me, until I read yours and Graham’s posts.

    You know what? The more I think about this, the more confused, bewildered, and challanged I become. I think we have a calling to be Global Citizens. A calling to love our neighbor – and our neighbor is anyone, anywhere, we see in need. (According Jesus.) In his time, Jesus was a global citizen. He didn’t allow himself to remain safely behind his comfort zone. He’d touch the untouchable. He’d talk to the shunned and outcasts of his time. He’d go where he wasn’t supposed to go. He connected. He got involved. He asks us to do the same.

    How can we do this? I have no frickn clue, and that bothers me. I feel powerless. I just read this story, and it’s heartbreaking. What are we to do about it? There is a call to action…but what? We realize that we can no longer ignore our global neighbors, but how do we break down our four walls, and get into their situation in a meaningful…change developing way?

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