Global Education Is Proven to Be Better General Education

Neither global education nor learning a second language is a component of the standard American school curriculum. But that doesn’t mean it is wise policy. Even without including foreign language learning, research on global education shows that it also benefits general education by supporting critical thinking, especially in terms of encouraging a consideration of multiple perspectives, a skill identified in much research as supporting success across a range of academic disciplines and careers. The reflective practices and consideration of varying perspectives that well-designed global education programs foster have been demonstrated to support analytical skills in all areas of education.

Effective global education programs can also encourage brain development by helping children come to grips with questions of personal, community, and national identities.  Some researchers have found that the complex perspective issues that naturally arise in global education can assist with “open-ended, creative problem-solving,” and with the ability to “reflect on contexts,” useful skills not just for global life and work, but here in the United States too.

With respect to foreign language education, the benefits are especially clear. Decades of research have amply demonstrated that learning foreign languages:

  • Supports academic progress in other subjects;
  • Narrows achievement gaps between different demographic student populations;
  • Aids both basic skills and higher order, abstract, and creative thinking;
  • Enriches and enhances cognitive development (especially if done early);
  • Enhances student’s sense of achievement;
  • Improves scores on standardized tests;
  • Promotes cultural awareness and competency;
  • Improves chances of college acceptance and achievement;
  • Enhances career opportunities; and
  • Benefits understanding and security in one’s community and society.

Dr. Allan E. Goodman, President & CEO of the Institute of International Education, says “Young Americans will depend on and most likely work in a world far beyond our borders. Early exposure to different languages and cultures prepares young people for the constant transformation that will be required in their future careers. Acquiring the kind of intercultural communication skills that today’s employers value will offer them an economic, as well as intellectual advantage. Having the opportunity to learn about other countries at a young age—and even better, to prepare them to study abroad as part of their college education—opens students’ eyes to a new way of thinking about the world, instilling a more informed approach to problem-solving in cross-cultural contexts. Whether their ultimate career interests lie in public service, business, science and technology, academia, arts and culture, or any combination of the above, the global perspective gained through international education will serve today’s students well throughout their lives.”

Raising Global Children

In order to give our children the best opportunity to thrive in the new global world, we need to give them a global education. Working together, teachers and parents can raise global children, expanding their personal horizons while opening up a world of personal and professional opportunities.

When it comes to specific advice on how to raise globally minded children, we recognize that not only do we all live in different geographic locations, we are all at different stages in our lives financially, emotionally, and globally. Some of you may already be engaged in raising globally aware children and are looking for additional ideas to supplement your actions. You may have younger children, teenagers, or a mixture of ages. Or you may not even have children yet, but are interested in learning how best to prepare for their arrival. Others may understand the need for—and excitement of—opening the world for your children, but have little international experience and are unsure where to turn for resources. Some of you may even be afraid that your own lack of global awareness will be a barrier to helping your child become the globally aware individuals that you know they need to become. We all have different means and desires and so each person’s approach to raising global children will be a little different.

We imagine that for every parent who already has the means to encourage global thinking, there are probably 100 who appreciate the value, but have little global awareness themselves. And you may not live in a town or even a part of the country that has much access to multicultural learning opportunities. No one has all the information to answer the variety of questions about lifestyles and paths, so it’s best to tap into a network of globally minded people for insight, ideas, and inspiration. Whatever you’re looking for on the spectrum of raising global children, this book is filled with proven parenting strategies, practical tips, and real-life examples culled from the experiences of hundreds of globally minded individuals and families.

The Cost of a Global Education

Some people think that raising global children is only for the well off. This is not true. Raising global children does not have to cost much money, nor does it require hundreds of hours of free time. The single most important part of raising global children is to instill in them the right attitude. Traits such as curiosity, empathy, compassion, and flexibility cannot be bought, they must be taught. To be sure, travel, ethnic restaurants, and cross-cultural museum exhibits can enhance a child’s global mindedness. But so, too, can the treasure trove of books, music, movies, magazine, and maps available at the local public library. Our point is not to advise you to pile on the costly extracurriculars, but to enjoy exploring the world with your child in the many different ways highlighted throughout this book. Incorporate an idea or two into your schedule as you see fit, and think long-term about the actions you can take to help your child become more globally aware. And while some things suggested here do indeed cost a lot of money, there are plenty that don’t cost much, and others that don’t cost anything at all. Just by reading this book you have expressed an interest in the topic, which is far and away the essential first ingredient in raising a global child.