IB Schools and Colleges Association

Education and global competencies (aka remembering we are human), Rebecca Hughes

We certainly do seem to be getting more interested in all things global when it comes to education. First there was ‘global citizenship’ — whether or not we know exactly what the term means. ‘Global’ and ‘citizen’ taken together always appear in tension to me, a contradiction in terms implying you don’t understand one word or the other. Back in the 1990s the term was used quite precisely in discussions of actual (ie national) citizenship and the legal niceties of migration. At that time there were roughly 300 citations to publications including the phrase. A Google Scholar search for 2010 – 2014 throws up over 16,000 scholarly articles on the same topic with an increasing emphasis on the need for young people to be capable of becoming ‘global citizens’ through education. Then ‘global skills’ came into the fray — again tricky to define (technical? vocational? professional? soft? hard? sectoral? cultural?) — and lagging behind for a while in the education sphere having started life in human resources nomenclature but on the rise we now see growing references to ‘global competencies’ (20 scholarly citations back in the 1990s rising to 1600 in a recent search). This is a rather more satisfactory phrase for me than the other two as, in our interconnected world, we do really need to develop quite specific teachable and learnable competencies alongside the subject knowledge that any good education gives us if we are lucky enough to access it….

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