Teacher Education

The overall impression gained from the responses to the question about how teachers were trained to teach global issues was that there were only a small number of teacher training programs anywhere in the world, particularly at the pre-service level, directed specifically at developing global education teachers. The following two responses exemplified the situation:

In general, teachers are inadequately prepared for global education. Only a few teacher training courses have programs in teaching about global issues; learning style theories and their implications are not widely understood and teachers are not usually trained in a wide range of methods.

In teacher training, global education is in large measure unknown. Global education does not appear in lesson plans in teacher training programs. . .it does not constitute a priority for professional teacher training. . .with the exception of intercultural understanding.

A number of respondents stated that, in pre-service training, global education was dealt with, at least in part, within the various “traditional” courses. For example, one statement was, “Global education is not explicit in curricula of teachers’ colleges, but it does arise in the context of other curriculum areas (e.g., geography, biology, economics at the secondary level and integrated studies and social studies at the primary level).

Chapter Five reported upon those teacher training programs around the world that did have global content, much of it related to national interests—-e.g., intercultural issues, environmental issues. In North America some small progress is being made in pre-service teacher education. For example, it was reported that global education programs were beginning to appear in the faculties of education in Canadian universities. In 1990, the Mershon Center at Ohio State University published the report of a seminal study by Merryfield of teacher education programs in the United States that included a global perspective.6 After identifying 88 programs that appeared to include such a perspective, a follow-up survey determined that there were 32 which fit the criteria of the study. In addition, there were a number of other programs offering courses with global education content that students could choose, but which were not required. The focus of the study was secondary school social studies. As the principal investigator pointed out, there may have been other global education programs in the U.S. that were noteworthy in other curricular areas such as elementary education, science, foreign languages, language arts, art, and so forth.

Perhaps reflecting the fact that institutions of higher education change much more slowly than schools at the pre-collegiate level, it was not surprising to find that there appeared to be somewhat more in-service teacher education related to global studies than pre-service teacher education.

The most extensive in-service education programs were found in Canada. For several years, with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), there have been programs, operated by provincial teacher federations in eight of the ten provinces, providing global education workshops, newsletters, conferences and resources. The recent withdrawal of CIDA funding has forced these programs to sharply reduce their activities as they have had to rely upon local sources for support. Many kinds of in-service programs focused upon global issues throughout the world were reported. Some of them had government sponsorship. A significant number were sponsored by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and many of these were single issue organizations—-e.g., peace and conflict education, environmental studies, intercultural education, development education.

As of 1993, there were 2,900 schools in 116 countries participating in the Associated Schools Project (ASP) with schools supported in each country by a National Commission of UNESCO. A major focus of this international network of institutions always has been teacher education and it remains an outstanding global education resource. It is a very sad fact that the participation of American schools in ASP is negligible since our Congress has seen fit to withhold financial support of the United Nations.

In the United States, education is highly decentralized. This has led to the development of a wide range of global education teacher in-service education models and programs. In addition, because of changes in economic and political conditions in the country, these models have often changed and programs have come and gone. Chapter Five describes several of these. However, there is a very real need for a national inventory of what is really going on in global education in the United States.

Among the most interesting developments in teacher in-service education related to global education are those currently underway in the European Union (EU) through the projects known as SOCRATES and TEMPUS. SOCRATES has two sub-programs, ERASMUS and COMENIUS. The former focuses upon higher education and the latter upon the pre-collegiate level. All projects must have at least three participating schools, each from a different country in the EU. A major goal is to promote European interdependence and co-operation: to strengthen the European Union through education. While projects are not limited to global education topics, because of their cross-national character, they do focus upon those systems which cut across national boundaries—-e.g., cultural heritage, human rights, environmental preservation, economic development, conflict resolution, and technology.

A number of ERASMUS projects are devoted specifically to teacher education wherein institutions of higher education cooperate across national boundaries on pre-service and in-service education programs. In addition, it is now possible for teachers within the EU to teach in countries other than the one in which they have citizenship if they meet appropriate certification and language criteria. It is to be remembered that foreign language acquisition is a much more prized condition in Europe than it is in the United States—-much to our detriment, it must be added.

TEMPUS is a program of the EU, separate from SOCRATES, that seeks collaboration between universities in the Union and ones in Eastern Europe. There is a wide range of programs, but some do focus upon teacher education. One unique feature of TEMPUS is that universities in North America can join partnerships if they are invited and if they are willing to meet criteria for membership, including financial contribution.

Several of the respondents to the questionnaire spoke of involvement in EU programs or in other Europe-wide ones sponsored by other organizations. However, a few respondents and a number of scholars in the literature raised a significant caution, also. The concern was that there was a certain Eurocentrism emerging. The danger was seen that a kind of supra-nationalism was being developed rather than a more global perspective and that focus was being diverted away from other global concerns such as human rights and intercultural relations.

In the final analysis, one thing is for sure. These programs represent a tremendous investment in education. They are reminiscent of Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and other federal legislation of that time when millions of dollars were spent on innovative programs in the schools of America, many of them concerned with global issues.

Normative statements about teacher education for global education also were reported in Chapter Five. Perhaps the most significant need identified for the field was that of changing the locus of such preparation. Currently, the aim of most pre-service and in-service teacher education programs is to bring new content and/or pedagogy to individual teachers. Unfortunately, this tends to reinforce one of the major factors causing resistance to school improvement efforts, the isolation of the teacher.7

Teachers usually work alone behind closed doors with their own classes. Seldom do they plan, teach, or evaluate together. Very little time is allowed for such activities. More often than not, during pre-service training or when a teacher goes to in-service workshops, he or she does so as an individual. Further, the content of the training is usually decided upon by others at some superordinate level from the school. The result, while it may improve a teacher’s own knowledge and skill levels somewhat, does not tend to focus upon what the school.

A major response to this problem is to change the locus from the individual teacher to the school. This calls for the development of new leadership roles within the school, new forms of collaboration among staff members and agencies, more of a field orientation in pre-service education. It also suggests some changes in how teachers spend their time with much more of it being devoted to such things as problem solving, inquiry, and general sharing. Finally, it points to the need for a careful examination of the emerging role of technology which can either be used in a strong supporting role for a more institutional view of school improvement or which, itself, inadvertently has the potential to reinforce the isolation of individual teachers.