The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century
, Thomas Friedman states that “Inthe future, how we educate our children may prove to be more important than how much we educate
them” (p. 309). That future is now. We are in the second decade of the 21st century. Globalization is
a fact of our daily lives (see Figure 1). Technological developments are advancing exponentially (seeFigure 2). All students today deserve a global education, which includes access to the Internet andopportunities for networked learning. Vivien Stewart agrees:
The future is here . . . Teaching students about the world is not a subject in itself, separate from other content areas, but should be an integral part of all subjects taught. We need to open global gatewaysand inspire students to explore beyond their national borders
. (Stewart, 2007, pp. 8, 10).
Global competence can be dened as “the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to understand andact creatively and innovatively on issues of global signicance” (Council of Chief State SchoolOfcers [CCSSO], 2010). These skills include investigating the world, recognizing perspectives,
communicating ideas, and taking action (CCSSO, 2010). A global education means not only learningabout the world, but also learning from the world and withthe world. In order for students to investigate the world and
recognize perspectives, they need access to multiple sources of
information. Fortunately, learning in schools need no longer be
conned to the monolithic textbook as the sole source of content.
Internet connectivity allows teachers and students to access anever-expanding volume and variety of information, representingvoices from around the globe.
Global competencies and 21st century skills (see Figure 3)ourish hand-in-hand. Students develop critical thinking skills
when presented with multiple perspectives, helping them see thattexts are not neutral and encouraging them to ask critical literacy
questions such as “Whose voice is representedhere?” “Whose voice is silenced?” “Is there another point of
view?” (see Figure 4). An Igbo proverb states “Until the liontells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorifythe hunter.” Similarly, in her TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single
Story,” Chimamamnda Adichie says, “When we reject the singlestory, when we realize there is never a single story about any
place, we regain a kind of paradise” (TED, 2009). And as themice learn in Seven Blind Mice (based on the Buddhist parableof “The Blind Men and the Elephant”), “wisdom comes fromseeing the whole” (Young, 1991).
In order to emerge as global citizens, students must not only
“investigate the world beyond their immediate environment”
and “recognize their own and others’ perspectives” (CCSSO,
2010), they must also be able to “apply cross-cultural understanding” (Asia Society, 2010) as they“communicate ideas” and “take action” (CCSSO, 2010; Asia Society, 2010) based on what they’velearned. These goals are best achieved when students have authentic audiences and purposes
Figure 1. The 21st Century Context.(Oxfam, 2006).