Internationalizing Our Schools

Elizabeth Burmaster:

We live in a world instantly connected via satellites, computers, and other electronic technology. Our children embrace the technology that makes those connections possible, but need the educational background through cultural and linguistic experiences that will prepare them for the global world of today and their international future.

Burmaster raises some useful points. Clearly, it is no longer sufficient to compare Madison’s curriculum and achievement with Racine, Green Bay or Kenosha. Rather, the question should include Bangalore, Helsinki, Shanghai, Taipei and Osaka, among others.

  • Millie

    It took me a while after you posted it (blame Break), but I read her opinion piece too, and she makes some very valid points. She comments that we have the international expertise at Wisconsin college and universities to implement a more globalized perspective in our classrooms without adding courses or additional content. I guess my question would be “how?”. It is not enough to have that expertise in higher ed when we are trying to instill the understanding starting back in elementary school. The vast majority of the teachers who would be trying to implement this have their higher ed degrees already. They can take some continuing ed to try to add to their knowledge base, but it has already been pointed out elsewhere that we would have to send kids to public school for at least 18 years (not 13) to cover the “standards” we are already supposed to be addressing in public education (all the details in all the standards). Now we add persepctives and info to what we are already trying to cover? In theory, it is just a matter of introducing international perspectives and interests sooner. But we already have kids who are not learning to read or write at the same speed as “typical” kids. Can we address that at the same time? I’m not sure. We are already not giving some kids the instruction they are ready for at times, because there are others in the same class who haven’t got “the basics” down yet, and we can’t “leave anyone behind”.
    The other cities and countries mentioned run education very differently from the get-go. They tend to invest heavily in their children from the beginning, and do not leave the public schools to try to make up for five or six years of benign neglect by society by the time the kids start school. They also use standardized, proven curricular progrms, for the most part. We can’t even adopt one set of standards across this country yet, much less one set of books and lesson plans. And should we, even if we could? Some of those here would be very disappointed if everyone in the country had to use middle school Foss science, and some would be thrilled. Just some other musings on the subject from someone who has been in several educational systems across the country and the (Western) world.