Three Dimensions of Teaching Globalization to Gifted Teens
With the many extreme natural and man-made tragedies that have appeared on the world stage in the past months, there has been an equally extreme response of empathy and action to help the millions of people affected by hurricanes, earthquakes, and monsoons, not to mention the ever-present political and national concerns affecting the welfare of people around the world. The forces of globalization have brought international concerns to a personal level of response and concern. As educators and parents, we have a responsibility to help our gifted young people understand globalization issues as they undertake their roles in the world’s expanded social network over the next few decades.
Gifted students should understand the term globalization. Most definitions of globalization speak to the fact that social networks are increasingly overcoming traditional boundaries of all kinds, that interrelationships are being expanded, intensified, and accelerated, and that these expansions involve changes in the ways that people form their cultures and identities.
To further help students understand these complex concepts, several dimensions will need to be studied.
- Economic issues are a good place to start. We are now in a new global economic order built by enormous transnational corporations. These gigantic firms are major determinants of the flow of money and trade, as well as the location and production of industries and related activities.
- Closely attached to economic policies is the second dimension of political relationships. Many globalists feel that the traditional nation-state, where boundaries and national loyalties have prevailed, is changing into a borderless philosophy that is driven by capitalistic motives. Such beliefs suggest that we must now seek to understand social and political change through global social relationships and networks, not through nation-states. Others disagree, of course.
- The third dimension is a cultural one. The meaning that humans attach to their existence is expressed in multiple ways through their cultures. The most common of these expressions can be found in language, music, art, customs, and rituals. Students need to research the role that media plays in controlling the cultural images we are exposed to. Culture-related debate topics for students could include whether the world is becoming more homogenized, or what role media should play in controlling cultural images.
By pursuing as many avenues as possible within the economic, political, and cultural dimensions of globalization, students will build an informed and thoughtful image of what globalization really means, and what might lie ahead for them.
The Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG) has offered a course for teens entitled Globalization: The Cash and Clash of Civilizations. The goal of this three-week course was to help students understand the impact of globalization on their future lives as well as on the lives of others around the globe. The course was described this way:
Globalization–the integration of capital, technology, and information across national borders–is creating a single global market. Globalization is as old as the human race, but its magnitude is unique to the last century. How will this changing world economy impact your future? You cannot understand the morning news or know where to invest your money or think about where the world is going unless you understand globalization. Here’s an opportunity for you understand your future as it is affected by globalization’s impact on culture, the environment, politics, business, and standards of living around the world.
Such a course helps students define globalization in economic, cultural, technological, ecological, and political terms, comprehend that globalization affects all aspects of their lives, that it is a very complex topic, and demonstrate an understanding of the world history leading up to the current state of globalization.
Students should have the opportunity to debate the pros and cons of globalization. They also should have the opportunity to research and present a project on a globalization issue of their choice, such as benefits of a global economy, how the poor are affected by a “flat world,” or how globalization affects culture, values, and the environment. Finally, it will be important for the students to apply the new knowledge and information they have gained through this course to create a solution to a globalization-related problem.
Understanding globalization issues will help gifted students deal purposefully with their future lives. Students should be encouraged to grasp the issues they can and move into greater levels of understanding at their own pace. As educators, we have a responsibility to help them gain confidence in their abilities to solve the planet’s problems and celebrate its changing identities through thinking and acting globally.