Tag Archives: Philosophy of Education

Being local and global

Who are you? If you are a teacher, part of your job is to help students to recognize and understand their identity as they develop. Yet how many teachers have taken the time to examine their own identity and how we understand ourselves within a wider community of humans?

This is an activity from the Kid World Citizen website that I have used in the classroom and remains an effective, practical exercise as a starting point for young children to think about how they see themselves in the world and celebrate the diversity of local identity whilst linking it to our global citizenship. It is presented as a bilingual activity in English and Spanish. My place in the world

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My Place in this World from Kid World Citizen

When I first considered using this activity with children, I saw that it related to the concentric circles of Stoic philosophy of the 1st-2nd CE. This concept is promoted by Professor Martha Nussbaum (University of Chicago) to consider our levels of belonging, our local and global identity, which allows us to recognize ourselves as local, national and world citizens.

 “The Stoics… suggest that we think of ourselves not as devoid of local affiliations, but as surrounded by a series of concentric circles. The first one encircles the self, the next takes in the immediate family, then follows the extended family, then, in order, neighbors or local groups, fellow city-dwellers, and fellow countrymen- and we can easily add to this list groupings based on ethnic, linguistic, historical, professional, gender, or sexual identities. Outside these circles is the largest one, humanity as a whole”. (Nussbaum, M. For Love of Country?)

concentric-circlesThis Stoic concept is a useful exercise for teachers and older students. It is even interesting to examine at different stages of our development over time, to witness shifts in local allegiances.

For the Third Culture Kid (TCK) growing up in a different culture or nation to their official citizenship, the local affiliations may be across national borders. We can be local in more than one area. This is also true for people who have lived and worked in different places. We feel at home and local across places, national borders and citizenship.

This idea is expressed well in the TED talk by Taiye Selasi Don’t ask me where I’m from, ask where I’m a local

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“We’re local where we carry out our rituals and relationships, but how we experience our locality depends in part on our restrictions. By restrictions, I mean, where are you able to live? What passport do you hold? Are you restricted by, say, racism, from feeling fully at home where you live? By civil war, dysfunctional governance, economic inflation, from living in the locality where you had your rituals as a child?” – Taiye Selasi

When we examine our allegiances and levels of belonging, we begin to see that the way that we view the world is through a particular lens. And it is a shifting lens and not absolute. What we feel is ‘normal’ is not normal for everyone. It also emphasizes the sense of global belonging that we all share.

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To understand Global Citizenship, you can’t go past Kant

 

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Paul Klee- May Picture

Immanuel Kant was born in 1724 and died on February 12 1804. Now, on the 212th anniversary of his death, it seems the world needs his philosophy of international cooperation more than ever.

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Immanuel Kant

And Kant’s philosophy, based on respect for human reason rather than a divine being, is apt for a world divided by ideology, religion and an overwhelming fear of those who are different from us. Let’s look for the thing that connects us, says Kant- the major feature of the human mind, its capacity for intelligent rational thought.

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Daan Botlek

Kant believed that we should respect the dignity of all people no matter who they are. Because they are humans with the same power of reason just like you. Foreigners have the same freedom to think just like you. And you might actually be that foreigner if you had been born in a different place.

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Leonardo Da Vinci

Kant’s philosophy states that this respect for humanity transcends all borders. So we can have a connection with people in different places all over the world. Before Kant’s ideas came along, it was very unusual for individuals to think they could have a global identity. Only royalty were allowed an international perspective. But Kant wants every one of us to know that we are all equal in rights, irrespective of status or nationality.

So does Kant want us to be in a world state? No. Kant saw this was a very impractical idea. However, he did believe that nations should work together.

Respectful cosmopolitan societies can work together to strengthen universal justice. And then all individuals are able to become more competent and powerful.

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It’s obvious to see how Kantian philosophy has influenced international organizations and international law. Kant’s ideas can also be directly used in education. Exposing children to this philosophy and making it a basis for global citizenship education is a very good place to start. Beyond our globalized economy, we really do have a moral duty to respect all humans as we would expect to receive respect.

 

 

 

To learn more about the philosophy of Immanuel Kant have a look at these links:

 

Philosophy Bites http://philosophybites.com/2008/09/adrian-moore-on.html

 

School of Life

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsgAsw4XGvU

 

 

 

 

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Filed under global citizenship, Philosophy, values education

Raising Cosmopolitan Global Citizens

Global citizenship is not meaningless utopianism. It’s a real priority. UNESCO has made Global Citizenship Education a strategic area for their education programme. When you look at school mission statements, you’ll see that so many schools aim to create 21st Century Global Citizens. It is incorporated into school curriculums through global awareness, foreign language and service learning. Yes, it is a utopian vision of people globally working together, but we need to strive towards an ideal. This means we also have to do the messy work of continual questioning- like what does a better world look like? And what skills and competencies do our children need for global responsibility? Are global citizenship skills measurable?

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Human Rights Education in action. Image from Amnesty International http://www.amnesty.org

Cosmopolitanism is the basis of global citizenship education. It is a philosophy that we are local and global at the same time. We are part of a wider community. That’s not to say that we have to abandon our national responsibilities and local identities- for these are an important part of who we are. Cosmopolitanism is recognizing that we can have local affiliations and we keep our various identities, but at the same time see ourselves as human with the same needs for rights and dignity as people everywhere.

So where did this idea of Cosmopolitanism come from? We usually attribute the idea to the Ancient Greeks and specifically to Diogenes the Cynic who rejected the norms of the city-state, lived in a barrel (amongst other unconventional acts) and declared himself a ‘citizen of the world’. But the truth is that Cosmopolitanism exists in philosophies from around the world like the Confucian teaching of Ta T’ung and African Ubuntu.

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Kandinsky, Circles in a Circle (1923)

That says a lot about how ‘cosmopolitan’ Cosmopolitanism actually is. The Cosmopolitanism that has influenced law, politics and education is far from an interaction of international ideas. Philosophical discourse is ethnocentric- in the past we have favoured white western literate men. I would like the conversation about Cosmopolitanism and what it means to be a member of the human family, to become more diverse and include a plurality of human voices. Because cosmopolitanism is central to our identities in a globalized world and raising Global Citizens to make the world a better place.

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Hossein Valamanesh, Open Book (1993)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 21st Century education, global citizenship, Uncategorized, values education