"Just as computer literacybecame an increasing necessityto live in a changing world inthe last decade, global culturalliteracy should now occupy thesame importance in ourschools." –Michael Lisman,Ed.M.’05
It's about digging deeper. Much deeper.We can't do this, he said, when we short change social studies,geography, and foreign language classes, as more and moreschools have in recent years.According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, for example,only 31 percent of American elementary schools reportteaching foreign languages. High schools and colleges aren'tmuch better: only 44 percent of high schoolers and 8 percentof undergraduates are enrolled in a second language."Schools have been emptied of their civic purpose," Reimerssaid. "This is preventing children from developing a purposebigger than themselves. That doesn't serve the nation well."Michael Lisman,Ed.M.'05, a graduate of theInternationalEducation PolicyProgramthat Reimersdirects, worked withMassachusettsRepresentative KayKhan on recentlegislation that makesinternational educationa priority in the state.He says the time for global competence is now."Just as computer literacy became an increasing necessity tolive in a changing world in the last decade, global culturalliteracy should now occupy the same importance in ourschools," said Lisman, now a coordinator for Inter-AmericanDialogue in Central America and the Caribbean.This is especially critical in an era of accelerated globalization --the buzzword used when talking about the breakdown of national borders and the interconnectedness of information,ideas, and economies across the world.Jaeger, who serves as the social studies department teamleader at a magnet school in Bloomfield, Conn., said Americanstudents need to understand that globalization isn't just abuzzword -- it personally affects them."We are in an unprecedented era of globalization wherestudents will be competing for jobs and for market shares of businesses with not just students the next town over or thenext state over," he said, "but rather the next 10 time zonesover."
How Did We Get Here?
The problem is, while globalization is asking students toexpand their knowledge and understanding of the world,several factors are making this more difficult to do.For starters, the United States has become, as the
once called it, Test Nation. High stakes tests mandated bystate laws and the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind Act(NCLB) have forced curriculums to focus almost exclusively onmath, reading, and science, leaving little room for anything