Globalization & Education
Globalization is a broad term which essentially describes the spread of technology, trade, and democracy across the globe. As such, it has had a long reaching effect on world development in both developed and underdeveloped countries. In the field of education, technology has had a particularly strong impact as it brings new teaching and learning resources to different parts of the world. Globalization has also broken down barriers to education like poverty and discrimination. In the classroom, students are increasingly encouraged to adopt a global mindset so that they will be better prepared to live and work in an interconnected world.
Keywords Cultural Identity; Development; Global Citizenship; Globalization; International Education; Nation-State; Nationalist Education; Primary Education; Western Education System; World Bank
International Perspectives: Globalization
The word "globalization" is significantly broad and encompasses a multitude of different ideas. Schaeffer (2003) stated that most global analysts define globalization as the spread of technology, democracy, and trade across the globe (p. 1). Yet much of globalization has to do with money; Zhao (2007) defined globalization as "the increasing integration of world economies through trade and financial transactions, involving movements of goods, people, and money across national and geographical borders" (p. 8). This process has been made possible by technological advances which allow for greater communication and dissemination of knowledge and ideas between nations. Through this global exchange of work forces, goods, and profit, great changes have been brought about in education, human rights movements, health and prosperity issues, and governmental systems (Carnegie Endowment, n.d.) Schaeffer (2007) states that although globalization scholars disagree on the precise definition of globalization, virtually all agree that there are a minimum of five key components of globalization:
• Production (p. 2-3)
Additionally, globalization has to do with removing boundaries and barriers so that people see themselves not just as belonging to a particular country or region but instead view themselves as taking part in a global citizenship. This mindset, as Eckersley (2007) argues, brings virtually all aspects of what humans do, all "key domains of human activity" into focus (p. 10). Eckersley has called globalization "the mother of all social studies topics" (p. 18). This is perhaps the best way people can view globalization, as the most complex and interconnected social studies topic available for scrutiny.
Globalization actually began centuries ago, when people started trading goods with different countries, making use of travel routes such as the Silk Road (Carnegie Endowment, n.d.). However, Schaeffer (2003) stated that there are several different globalization theories: some people argue that globalization is an old idea, some argue it is a new phenomena, and others argue that present-day globalization is rooted in older concepts but has taken on a new form today (p. 9). Perhaps Appadurai (2006) stated it best: "Historians and sociolinguistics…have long been aware that the world has been a congeries of large-scale interactions for many centuries. Yet today's world involves interactions of a new order and intensity" (p. 179).
The Globalization of Education
A major area that globalization has directly impacted is education, and this impact is multi-faceted. Technology has brought new teaching and learning resources to many parts of the world. International charities send teachers to other countries, sponsor international students, and provide financial assistance to help the education cause. Additionally, globalization helps break down barriers to education such as poverty or gender discrimination. Globalization not only helps disadvantaged people in remote parts of the world, it also influences students in developed countries by teaching them to have a global mindset and see the connection between themselves and the rest of humanity. Globalization links teachers, students, and scholars around the world so that they can pass on new ideas, further the spread of knowledge, and donate resources, all which creates a global community of learners.
Influence of the World Bank
To demonstrate why education is a crucial part of globalization, Spring (2004) devoted a chapter of his book How Educational Ideologies Are Shaping Global Society to examining the World Bank, the world's largest education funds provider. The World Bank provides developing countries with grants, low-interest loans, and credit to fund various educational, public health, and development projects (The World Bank, 2007). In providing financial assistance to countries in need, the World Bank is seeking to build a global society and help the poor and disadvantaged improve their places in life, primarily through education and vocational development. Spring (2004) stated that the World Bank upholds the vision of a world in which goods and profits are produced through factories, corporate farms, and mass production instead of independent farms and private businesses (p. 40).
This means that in order for workers to be able to function successfully in the global workplace as envisioned by the World Bank, they must have at least a basic education and be able to learn new vocational skills. Often this learning process is lifelong, because new business innovations and philosophies are constantly being discovered and transmitted, and workers must be continually taking in new information and training. The difficulty is, as Spring (2004) stated, that "many countries have not reached a high enough level of economic development to participate in this mass consumer society. The role of education is to help them make this leap" (p. 41).
Globalization has made the issue of education crucial. In a globalized world, education is necessary for workers to find adequate employment, but education also has many other benefits. Educating the citizen of the world helps reduce poverty and unemployment, and also helps eliminate epidemics, child mortality, gender discrimination, population growth problems, and environmental problems. While globalization is undergirded by economics, trade, and commerce, its effects overshadow the whole scope of human existence. Education, necessary for vocational success in a globalized world, is also necessary for removing most of the barriers people face.
The Spread of Western Educational Models
How education is delivered is important to note. In particular, Spring (2004) stated that Western education models are becoming increasingly more common throughout the world: "For better or worse, Western models of the nation-state and schooling now dominate global discussions of education" (p. 2). Western education involves separating large masses of young students from their surrounding community and placing them in a government-controlled environment where they can be taught a standardized form of education; the curriculum is designed to form people who can build and serve their society as a whole (Spring, 2004, p. 2). In doing so, students are exposed to Western mindsets and ways of thinking which may be quite different from the culture in which they were raised.
One of the reasons why Western education models are becoming more popular around the world is that Western education embraces the concept of educating as many people as possible in a free, government-sponsored setting. This can be a dramatic change for many cultures and areas of the world where traditionally, girls have been barred from education, and education was reserved for a select few, usually boys of higher class families. Poverty has also been a major barrier to education, and access to free education dramatically improves one's chances of being educated. Globalization requires that all workers receive an education, and the process of globalization brings with it a focus on human rights and opportunity. Because of these factors, it is understandable that Western models of education are spreading.
A key component of Western education that is also an important factor in globalization is the ability to develop new ideas to meet rising challenges. In the changing world of today, creative and innovative skills are particularly important, and education needs to foster these abilities. Zhao (2007) said that the American style of education has done an excellent job in teaching its students to be free, innovative thinkers and function as autonomous beings, in contrast to other cultures (Asian for example) that emphasize the collective and do not encourage free thinking as much.
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