Blog Post: Global Learning, A Student Teacher's Perspective
25 March, 2020
‘We must be the change we want to see in the world’. Mahatma Gandhi
Blog by Emir McLaughlin, Final Year student at St Mary's University College Belfast
I am currently in my final year of Liberal Arts with English and have been accepted to complete my PGCE Primary in the University of Cumbria next year. My modules are English, Economic Policies and Education for Sustainable Development; these subjects aim to promote critical engagement with global issues, such as human rights, climate change, economic growth and quality education. So, the work that occurs through the Centre for Global Education is intrinsic in transforming my theoretical learning into indispensable, instructive practice to maximize opportunities for my professional and personal development, as well as for the young people that I will be teaching.
I am able to appreciate that Global Learning should not be treated as a sole or isolated project. Rather, it is necessary that formal and non-formal educators adopt a ‘progressive and holistic approach…that makes interconnections between issues, concepts and realities in our world’ (Global Learning Programme, 2017). I was able to learn about this through actively and deeply researching the policies that Connecting Classrooms embraces. The Centre of Global Education has facilitated me to have an open-mind regarding global issues; we should tackle matters inside and outside classrooms in order to know and value the power of education to ‘eradicate poverty, transform lives and make breakthroughs on all the Sustainable Development Goals’ (Irina Bokova). I aspire to travel and teach in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia to gain invaluable learning experience and skills in dynamic classrooms that I aim to transfer into schools in Ireland to expand our children’s values, abilities and knowledge about global learning.
Why the Centre for Global Education?
The programmes that are delivered by the Centre are close to my heart as I have a keen interest in concentrating more effort towards World Around Us and STEM issues which are usually neglected in the Northern Ireland curriculum due to lack of awareness, confidence and knowledge. However, they are becoming increasingly prevalent problems that should be addressed if educators are to produce confident, responsible global individuals that will become essential ‘contributors to the society, economy and the environment’ (Northern Ireland Curriculum ‘Big Picture’, 2007), and who understand the concept of interdependence since ‘global issues are local issues’ (OECD PISA, 2018). One of my main aims is to relieve children from the climate anxiety that they are experiencing, and, instead, encourage them to make informed decisions and actions that will benefit the local, national and global. Working at the Centre has taught me that, although individual action can be beneficial, it is more successful across the whole school community as everyone becomes engaged in Climate Strikes, completing Eco-School Awards and fully immersed in International Partnership schemes.
My Role at the Centre of Global Education
During my time at the Centre, I have been engrossed in a range of activities that the School Advisory team are responsible for; the most practical and relevant for broadening my experience and knowledge was participating in the Connecting Classrooms Programme. One of the most beneficial experiences was the ‘Pre-Departure Training Day’ for five clusters of schools that will be embarking in the British Council’s International Partnerships Scheme in Kenya and South Africa. Prior to the training day, I helped to plan activities that would encourage the teachers to engage in successful verbal and written communication with their partner schools, to think critically about scenarios they may be presented with during their visit, and to concentrate on the vital educational and professional development that they should profit from during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On various occasions, I have been able to form connections with principals, teachers and Children of Crossfire advisors during CPD training, International Partnerships training and Sharing Practice meetings which has elicited confidence in my interpersonal and communication skills. Also, it was interesting to see the way in which the recent COVID-19 has impacted the public and private sectors; this goes as far as principals and facilitators being unable to attend due to ‘self-isolation’, and deliberating upon the appropriate formal greeting of meeting somebody for the first time when under obligation to ‘contain’ the spread of the virus.
How will my time at the Centre for Global Education benefit my future career?
Additionally, from meeting educational facilitators and teachers, I have learnt activity-based learning techniques that can be applied across the Key Stages, such as the Trade Game, Power Matrix, the Monkey/Fish story which poses questions about neo-colonialism, sustainability, justice and equality. The benefits of the Centre ripple throughout the partnership schools and their local societies. Therefore, when I become a fully qualified teacher, I would be adamant in maintaining a strong connection with the Centre due to their commitment to improvement and change, as well as their excellent resources and skillset. From my experience, I could confidently implement global learning into Key Stage One and Two classrooms and encourage other teachers to do so, as I have experienced both the delivery and the receipt of the training. I think that the most important thing that I will take out of this experience, and apply to my daily and working life, is the ethos that I believe the organization maintains which is closely linked to the spirit in which Mahatma Gandhi popularized: ‘We must be the change we want to see in the world’.