Educators on Global Learning: Brenda Lilienthal Welburn
- How can we bring international education into our schools?
- Does international education suggest a broader view of the kinds of assessments we use now?
- How does international education fit in with the current heavy emphasis on reading, math, and science?
- What is the role of technology in international education?
- Why is international education important to national security?
How can we bring international education into our schools?
I think that we first need to be sure that studies of the world and of world cultures are integrated throughout our curriculum. We don't have to have a separate course for the instruction of international education, but the literature that our students read needs to be comprehensive and inclusive. The way we handle mathematics questions can include instruction about culture. The need for instruction in world language is critical as our students become more engaged and involved with the world, so I think we can integrate what we do now every day with the need for international education.
Does international education suggest a broader view of the kinds of assessments we use now?
We know that children learn differently, and if they learn differently, they test differently. We need to make sure there are comprehensive ways a teacher can evaluate whether a student has mastered what's been taught. There can be oral assessments, portfolio assessments, multiple-choice assessments -- a variety of them -- but we must make sure we are not reliant on a single test to measure whether a student is proficient about this issue or any other issue.
How does international education fit in with the current heavy emphasis on reading, math, and science?
We know reading, mathematics, and science are core to a good education, but we also believe that the study of international education, foreign languages, the arts, and the humanities are essential to providing a complete education for students. We started by calling it "the lost curriculum," and we ended up calling it "the complete curriculum." We heavily favor including the arts and world language instruction from the earliest ages all the way through twelfth grade to all students.
What is the role of technology in international education?
Technology is going to be critical in this area from a number of perspectives. First, we know that in the instruction of world languages, there are not enough teachers, so using technology to give students access to teachers proficient in other areas and other disciplines will be one way we get at the question, particularly in rural communities, on how we teach these subjects to all children.
We know that technology is important in terms of research -- using the Internet to learn about other cultures and other parts of the world. We know also that the exchange programs that students have through pen-pal programs and interactions are important for students, as well as teachers, for teaching children about children their own ages in other parts of the world. Technology is essential -- particularly, as I said, when we look at the lack of teachers who are able to teach world languages.
Why is international education important to national security?
We have found that many of our own young people are traveling to other parts of the world through the military, and they need to understand the cultures they're working in and trying to impact and influence while they're there. I think some of the experiences some of our very youngest soldiers have had over in Iraq demonstrate that they were very unfamiliar with the culture of another part of the world, and so it just underscores the whole national-security aspect and the importance of understanding and respecting another culture.
I think that probably is the most critical element to our national security: When we learn to respect and value other cultures, they will have a different perspective of us and our contributions to the world, not just as a nation of power and might, but as a nation of caring and giving people as well.