Teacher Union Calls for Global Competence

What does the future hold for your students? (RyanJLane/iStockPhoto)

WASHINGTON, DC--The National Education Association (NEA) today came out with a policy brief that calls on schools to prepare globally competent youth.

"Public schools must prepare our young people to understand and address global issues, and educators must re-examine their teaching strategies and curriculum so that all students can thrive in this global and interdependent society," said Dennis Van Roekel, president of the organization.

Among its recommendations are to prepare students who have high-level, creative thinking skills, as well as the ability to communicate in at least one other language. These recommended skills accompany a general disposition for students to be more culturally aware and appreciate the great diversity in local and global communities.

"I commend the NEA for reaching out to its three million members with an important message from all sectors of society worldwide: the 21st century workforce needs global knowledge and skills that American schools, by in large, are not teaching. It's time for a crucial upgrade in the American education system," says Tony Jackson,  Executive Director of Asia Society's  Partnership for Global Learning, which partners with NEA and other education organizations to promote global competence as a key component of education reform efforts.

K-12 and higher education institutions have been grappling with defining global competence as a first step in transforming schools. The degrees to which one is culturally aware or appreciative of diversity can be difficult to measure.  Through EdSteps, a project to see growth in student performance using real examples of student work, Asia Society and the Council of Chief State School Officers are working on a concrete set of skills that can measurably show better student achievement. These skills include the ability to investigate the world, apply expertise, weigh perspectives, communicate ideas, and take action--at the local level as well as through global outreach.

"In this era, it's arguably faster to communicate and collaborate with someone across the globe than across town. And we need to prepare our next generation to do just that," says Jackson.

Learn more about these overlapping skills, access other resources to help transform schools and teaching practice on this website, and take part in the important EdSteps research project relating to student global competence.