I believe that we are all global citizens and that seeing ourselves as such is the key to facing the challenges of the future.
Growing up in the United Kingdom, my parents used to take my brother, sister and I on long summer holidays across Europe and sometimes beyond. They were necessarily frugal because they were both educators, so we would pack our motor caravan with boxes of canned food for month long international camping trips. In the mid 1970’s we even made the trek through Yugoslavia to Greece against the advice of our government because of the potential of war between Greece and Turkey. My father had spent months planning this trip and he wasn’t about to abandon it on account of the delicate political situation in south-eastern Europe. He certainly taught me about hard work and perseverance.
More importantly, my parents instilled in me the value of educational travel, which was reinforced by my teachers at Kingswood School in Bath, UK. Theirs was a mindset that was less parochial and more international at a time when most of their contemporaries saw themselves as being British rather than European. Although we didn’t have many things, we accumulated experiences that will last a lifetime. This was to become the foundation of my educational philosophy.
Thus I was inspired to pursue a career in education by traveling and living abroad. Through an outdoor education program in Manitoba, Canada, at a center for severely emotionally disturbed children in St. Louis, Missouri, and in the U.S. public school system, I have always tried passionately to help students understand that we live in an increasingly interdependent world. The critical issues of today and the future are only really relevant in an international context.
Today our lives are more influenced than ever by events that occur in other parts of the world. As educators I believe that our response must be to develop schools that require students to think critically across the curriculum, and to examine issues in a broader context. I am encouraged and excited by the leadership of our high school students in projects to fund schools in Sierra Leone and Sudan. I applaud those students who want to travel and study internationally because they show a real concern for global issues that goes way beyond their own personal experience.
I believe that the most pressing issues of our planet transcend local, regional, and national boundaries; they are international in scope. Education is the key to dealing with these issues and preparing our students to be the leaders of the 21st century.