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6 Clever Ways You Can Teach Students To Be A Citizen Of The World

6 Clever Ways You Can Teach Students To Be A Citizen Of The World
Marcia Welch
Marcia Welch

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Here’s the thing: Teaching kids about the world isn’t just about maps, flags and countries; it’s also about learning how to be in the world.  It's about fostering respect and understanding for people from all walks of life, whether they're next door or on the other side of the world.

Once your students know they’re not only an important part of their local community but also part of a much wider non-local network, they start to become global citizens.

Teaching kids to embrace their social responsibility and act for the benefit of all societies, not just their own, makes them citizens of the world.

And once you start doing this, you’re also contributing the UN’s Sustainable development goals and teaching global citizenship. Applicable to every country, these goals are intended to help end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities, and tackle climate change.

 

So, how can you, as an educator, include this in your curriculum?  We cover six simple ways to sprinkle a little global flair into your lessons and show your students what it means to be a citizen of the world.  

1. Ask, don’t tell

‘Why?’ It’s a simple question, but why is ‘why’ so powerful?

Imagine you’re teaching your class about immigration. You have two options: you could tell them facts and list statistics or you could ask them why they think people move to new countries and let them come to these conclusions on their own. The latter allows learners to think for themselves and express their own opinions, biases and all.

Encouraging critical thinking is a great way to get your students to become citizens of the world. Rather than simply providing answers, challenge your class to question, analyze, and debate complex issues.

By using moral dilemmas and thought-provoking questions, you can empower students to examine their assumptions, think for themselves and develop their own perspectives - which is precisely what being a global citizen is all about.  

2. Hold an International Day

Every school is a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds. A great way to embrace this is by celebrating an International Day or Week each year. Themed events are a fun way for students to explore different cultures, traditions, and perspectives and showcase the diversity within their own school. From global greetings to trying out traditional foods and clothing, there are endless possibilities for incorporating global diversity into the curriculum.

3. Pen Pal

Connecting students with peers from other countries through programs like ePals can be a powerful learning experience.  With ePals you can select the country and age range, as well as moderate the conversations. It not only provides an opportunity for cultural exchange but also helps students develop communication skills and empathy towards others.

Other resources we love: Empatico - a virtual exchange


4. Books

“The quickest path between yourself and another person is a story.” This is why stories and storytelling are so crucial in the classroom.

Introducing global stories and literature into the classroom is a great way to expose students to diverse cultures and perspectives. From picture books to novels, there are countless resources available to help broaden students' understanding of the world around them.

This Is How We Do It, by Matt Lamothe is a great example. It profiles seven children from seven different countries and how they live and play. The Last Bear by Hannah Gold is another beautiful story for children a bit older (8+) that brings awareness to climate change and its threat it poses to endangered species.

5. Travel

There are three things that make travel a powerful tool for creating citizens of the world.

  1. It's a crash course in culture. Through travel, students can be immersed in the fun of new customs, traditions, tasty foods, and new languages.
  1. Travel challenges stereotypes by going beyond textbooks and giving kids a real look at the world and the people in it.
  1. Perhaps most importantly, travel fosters empathy by providing students with insights into global issues. Witnessing these challenges firsthand is a great way to inspire students to become more engaged and proactive citizens of the world.

What if travel isn’t feasible? That’s why we made it possible to travel the world with Touchable Earth. With hundreds of ready-made lessons and activities spanning various subjects, you can let your students learn first-hand from children their own age from 25+ places around the world. Like travel, Touchable Earth offers the authenticity of genuine encounters—minus the air miles.

6. Volunteer

You don’t need to travel halfway across the world to teach global perspective. Being a citizen of the world starts at home.

Volunteering is a great way to teach kids that they have a responsibility for others within their local community, not just abroad. Whether it be helping the less fortunate or supporting an environmental cause, taking your students to volunteer within your community can teach valuable lessons about empathy and global citizenship.  

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