Global citizenship is a term that has penetrated not only the academe but in families as well. As internationalization became a broader field in education and politics, the concept of civic engagement turned from a national to a more global one.
Simply put, a global citizen is aware that his/her actions have implications here and around the world. A global citizen identifies with being part of an emerging world community and puts effort on upholding the community’s values and practices.
How can we raise global citizens?
In the Reggio Emilia approach, the environment is considered to be the “third teacher” (along with children and adults as first and second respectively). I firmly believe that this is the case not just in the school setting but in parenting as well. Environment plays a big part in the values and practices that we teach to our children. It also plays a big role in shaping global minds.
So how does ENVIRONMENT inspire global citizenship?
In The Practices of Global Citizenship, Hans Schattle provides a striking account of how global citizenship is taking on much greater significance in everyday life. We see it in our interactions with other people. The conversations that we initiate. The different cultures that we encounter. Global citizenship is not just a mindset but it is profound awareness of the environment and what is going on around us.
When I was reflecting on how environment promotes global citizens, I decided to look specifically how the home environment and the family culture provide the skills and dispositions that global citizens posses. Skills and dispositions like social justice and equity, appreciation of diversity, peace and conflict resolution, and globalization.
These for me are the three crucial aspects of OUR environment that are directly or indirectly motivating global citizens:
a) FAMILY VALUES
“Home is where learning begins” is our family motto and as much as there is focus on learning certain academic skills (reading, math, writing) we also put value on teaching social skills and social understanding to our children.
In our home environment, we place value in teaching our children to:
- Express themselves and their opinions in our family conference (our Sunday assessment of how
- Express our feelings and needs
- Respect for everyone including that of one’s self
- Efficiency and hard work and yes this includes teaching them about conservation, recycling and managing of various resources
- Service and how we can be of help to one another and to others
- Conflict resolution, compromise and negotiations
In our family, we try to practice “making thinking visible at home”. This takes in the form of the thinking routines that we use that gives us an idea of where our children are coming from in their questions or perceptions. Sample thinking routines that we try to make as habits are:
“what makes you say that?” – asking the children this question before giving our own answer or interpretation to a particular question or inquiry
“I used to think...now I think” – this thinking routine challenges our kids to look at their perceptions and how these change over time.
“See,think,wonder”- (what do you see? What makes you think? What makes you wonder?) this thinking routine encourages a playful exploration of what they see in the environment. It also provides space for children to present their perceptions (think) and pose their own questions about what they are experiencing.
These are but a few of the thinking routines that we use in our dialogues with our children. Making our conversations a means to connect them with themselves and with the world around them.
C) Family experiences that we explore
Our family environment also entails the different experiences that we provide and explore. From the multicultural books that we read to the children, the diverse toys that we provide, to the family outings to different cities and museums, to even the most mundane like cooking of different cuisines. We make it a habit to include an awareness of other people’s perception in the history lessons that we share with them (why do you think they did that?) and also take the opportunities to share with them our own personal experiences growing from different cultures and countries.
Parenting global citizens for me and my husband means also placing careful emphasis on the environment that we provide in and out of our home and the interactions that happen along in it. This includes the school, the community activities, the church we go to for Sunday service, including the festivities that we engage in with other friends or in the community. All these form part of our intentional parenting – intentional in a sense that we know how influential the family values that we support, the habits that we promote and the experiences that we explore. These are the basis of the environment that we would like to sustain and promote in raising our global citizens.