Thursday, January 27, 2011

Global Learning & Curriculum, a short commentary.

I'm at the end of a discussion with a couple classmates (via Skype!) from EDC, and I'm thinking, "Wow.  There are some serious problems with the general [lack of] curriculum development in the States."  Not many "non-teachers" would have this thought, I understand, so I will break it down as I see it.

Many schools are focused on dropping languages from their curricula, citing underfunding as a strong reason for cutting the programs.  But "the economies of China, India, and Japan, which represent 18 percent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004, are expected to represent 50 percent of the world's GDP within 30 years (Jacobs, 98)."  As of 2008, China, India and Japan held 24 percent of the world's GDP (Univ. of Groningen)!  With that said, shouldn't we be adding languages to our curriculum, in order to better prepare our students for a global economy?  Many people think that, to be competitive in the global marketplace, students will need at least a basic knowledge of world cultures and foreign languages. 

Another fascinating fact: "if there were just 100 people in the world, only 5 would be American (Jacobs, 99)."  Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?  We concentrate on ourselves (the U.S.) and the things we think of as important so much, that we don't even think about what a small part of the world we really are.  This factoid didn't matter much back before the internet.  Now we are all connected, and have no excuse to remain ignorant of other cultures.

Vive l'unité!


  1. I agree with you 100%. Before I came to the United States I had background knowledge of the culture here in the United States and many other countries as well. I knew what they study, their different systems, how they live, and their culture. When I came here I found out that nobody knew about my country. They thought we were all strict about our religion, unfriendly, and all we have to offer is oil. I understand that this country is full of so many different cultures, ethnicities, races, religions, philosophies, nationalities, etc. and when considering that, I can't blame some people for not knowing about my country. However, these days nearly everybody has access to this information. I feel that everybody should at least have a basic knowledge of other places in the world.

    I, like some Americans, don't know about every country in the world. In fact, it wasn't until I read Karla DeMaris' blog that I learned about Norway. I knew about Sweden and Finland, but I had never learned about Norway before today. It is because of this that I can't judge Americans harshly on not knowing about my own country, or any other.

  2. I fully agree about the lack of foreign languages offered in our schools. I remember when I was in early elementary school living in Montana, we were taught Spanish a few times a week. The elementary school I work in doesn't offer any foreign language classes. And the high school only offers Spanish, and that isn't even mandatory. I have often said that many countries offer (and it's probably mandatory) that their students learn another language (which is probably English). It appears from seeing tourists in the United States and traveling, that many non-American people are multi-lingual. I wouldn't even be able to guess what percentage of Americans are multi-lingual, but I'd bet that the percentage is nothing compared to those in other countries.

  3. It is hard to teach our kids here in Maine to think globally. Many of them never experience anything outside of their own towns especially in rural Maine. They don't understand the importance of languauge studies or globally studies because they can't personally relate to it. It is very important that kids see the importance for the future.

  4. Yikes...what a narrow view of the rest of the world we have. Is this a curriculum issue in our schools? Of course it is! As Noor, Miranda, and Tina have said...why don't we offer more languages and more globally connected social studies. In fact, maybe we should get rid of the subjects we know and invent something like world cultures that included languages and elements of social studies. (Ok, full disclosure...some schools do this already...), but isn't that the direction we should be heading in this "connected world"?