Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Importance of Global Citizenship

British teacher Gillian Gibbons stands accused of
insulting Islam's Prophet after allowing her pupils in Sudan to name a
teddy bear Muhammad. What are the rules on using the name?

I was intrigued by this article I came across on Twitter me it really spoke to the importance of teaching our kids through a lens of Global Citzenship and an understanding of others. It is why projects like Life 'Round Here, 1001 Flat World Tales, and The 2007 Flat Classroom Project are essential. It is why we should be encouraging kids to blog & read others' blogs. I know that the edtech world is talking about the importance of digital citizenship, but we need to begin to reach further...

The article ends...
"People are very forgiving of foreigners, particularly
Europeans. Nobody would think she was trying to offend them - they
would just think she was ignorant."

Is it acceptable anymore to even use ignorance as an excuse? It is a flat world. We must educate ourselves and our students. That in my opinion is the only crime committed, failing to understand cultural difference. Thoughts?

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  1. A minor but telling thing that I notice is when US based educators sign onto a Ning or wiki and only provide details of their state as their location, making the assumption that everyone else will know where they mean. Not so - why would they assume that USA wouldn't be required? Saw the same thing yesterday on the edublogs awards site - where in the world is Massachusetts? Assumed knowledge is definitely a hindrance to global citizenship - but even the term citizenship has connotations that draw heavily on the dominant cultures of the world.

  2. Very true Graham--
    "citizen" is one of those terms..can anyone think of a better one?
    The other kind of "centric" thing I notice is when folks post "events" via twitter. Time zone these days is a MUST...I have been looking for a time zone converter widget... that could can embed in a website so folks can easily convert from one time zone to the next...

  3. I think an interesting thing is that she WAS a global teacher. Remember the Danish newspaper that ran cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad? (story here) And that was two years ago. How ignorant can you be? Or maybe some of us pay attention better than others.

    Hershey, PA (Chocolatetown), USA

  4. Kristin,
    The story about the British teacher and naming a teddy bear "Mohamed" hit home. A colleague and I just returned from Egypt with our school mascot, Jose the bear.

    He "met" a friend in Egypt, a stuffed camel. We wanted to name the camel a typical Egyptian name. Of course we thought of the name Mohamed immediately. Fortunately we thought of asking a native Egyptian first though, if it would not be considered offensive. We were advised to choose another name and ended naming the camel "Omar".

    I have a hard time believing that a teacher, who is living in the country (even for a short period) would not have had the sensitivity to ask first if she was unsure.

    I agree with you that "ignorance" cannot be an excuse for everything.

  5. Chris--
    Thanks for your comment I was somewhat surprised as well..
    What a great story and example.

  6. KH,

    America was founded as a place where anyone could go to obtain freedom of thought and religion. For centuries, we've had to adjust to cultures unlike our own and people who are different. Although this has been a rocky road, Americans have benefited from opportunities these freedoms have offered.

    Global collaboration has open the floodgates to anyone and everyone who can get connected. Just like the ingredients of America's melting pot had to simmer to taste, all of these digital natives will need to add a little salt along the way. Empathy is our most powerful emotion. When we can connect the ideas and problems of real people from around the world, we will be more motivated cooks.

    This extended metaphor brought to you by... MB

  7. I'm going to be joining the 1001 Flat Tales project with seventh and eighth graders this year. This is something that my students really need to discuss. It goes way beyond Internet safety. Global citizenship will be an important topic before the story writing begins.