We sat a neighborhood restaurant, catching up over an oh-so-American meal: cheeseburgers, fries and a local beer. Kristin was in town only for a few days, visiting a local college to explore the possibility of starting a student exchange program with the university in her hometown – Trondheim, Norway.
Kristin has a part of our family for as long as I can remember; she and my mom have been best friends since they met in ‘Up With People.’ After a Scandinavian summer with Kristin and her husband, along with my sister, I consider Kristin my Norwegian mom.
In an increasingly connected world, Kristin and her family feel closer than ever before. We used Facebook Messenger to plan a surprise party for my mom; she frequently shares photos of her adorable son as he grows; and during holiday get-togethers, my American family spends quality time on Skype with our Norwegian friends.
Our cross-continental relationship is steadily becoming the norm. In an increasingly globalized society, students are growing up in a culture that is more connected than ever before. We should help them succeed in this reality. We should teach them how to work well across cultures, nationalities and languages to be successful throughout the world. We should encourage them to think about the impact they can have as global citizens.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Susan Patrick from iNACOL provide a global perspective on education innovation. She also touched on redefining student success in a global society. “The world is changing,” she said. “It calls for new forms of education that societies and economies need.”
We have a unique opportunity in U.S. education policy because of the Every Student Succeeds Act, Susan explained. ESSA gives states and districts the opportunity to reconsider how they can best meet the needs of each learner. This is increasingly important as more countries surpass the U.S. in educational attainment. Most developed countries that are outperforming us are re-thinking content and moving toward competency-based learning. The competencies include traditional academic subjects, like math and science, but also ‘soft skills’ like cultural responsiveness and inclusivity. As we reflect on what education could and should be, here are some key questions we must consider:
It’s our responsibility to prepare students to succeed, not only as professionals in a workforce, but as compassionate humans in a global society. Someday, they might work overseas, manage international employees or create a global network of friends and colleagues.