Teaching children about global issues and encouraging them to see the world through other eyes is of huge importance. In an increasingly interconnected world, today’s young generation need to learn to be able to engage in communication with people from a wide range of different cultures and traditions.
In September 2015 in Kraków I had a fabulous opportunity to see that in action, when me and my past student Wojtek bumped into Hugh Dellar in one of Krakow pubs. Those two guys coming from remote places in Europe, with quite different life experiences and education backgrounds were talking for over 3 hours on topics ranging from Russian culture to the Islamic denominations in Syria. And they were doing this with such an ease, expertise and fascination that I felt jealous. It dawned at me how important it is to not only teach language and separately teach the content in native language, but also to merge these two spheres, as this is the most natural thing to do – voice ones opinions on the most up-to-date topics in the language that makes people communicate at ease. Since English language as lingua franca is undeniably here to stay, at least for the time being, not only teachers of EFL but teachers of subjects such as geography, civics, cultural studies taught through CLIL or not should encourage students to get to know the content knowledge from the perspective of a foreign language. It must be top priority!
There are many other reasons why schools should take up the global awareness agenda. Some schools already use it to promote tolerance and an appreciation of different beliefs, cultures and backgrounds
while others use it to give their pupils an understanding of contemporary dangers.
The more students are aware of diversity in the world and the problems so many people around the world face, the more sensitive and empathetic they are and less prone to nationalism, any -ism, actually.