George Lucas Educational Foundation
Social and Emotional Learning

Education as a Vital Global Marketplace Represents the Future

Explore the many ways students are taught around the world.
January 11, 2008

Austria | Bulgaria | Canada | Chile | India | Japan | New Zealand | Pakistan | Room to Read | Russia | Sweden | Uganda | More Edutopia Resources


Much is made of the idea of the global marketplace, and few of us are unaffected by it. But the expansion of trade between the world's nations, for all its far-reaching effects, is a phenomenon involving commodities, products, and money. In other words, stuff, and the prices paid for it.

Another vitally important global marketplace exists, however, in which ideas rather than things are what count: the great international bazaar of education, a flourishing and bustling agora occupied by thousands of notions, traditions, theories, and practices devoted to the universal need to teach successive generations of the human race. Education is not oil, or electricity, or soy beans, or gold, but it represents something more important than any of those: the future.

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For our second annual window on the world of education, we have gone looking for examples of how students are taught in places as different as Austria and Uganda, Chile and Pakistan. In some cases, our writers have found ideas that offer innovations to American educators; in other stories, they show us unique situations that may not hold out practical solutions to teachers in Cheyenne or Chicago, but still serve to broaden and deepen our knowledge of what works best a world away from our schools. Always, we are reminded that in the end all humans are connected through the global, and noble, act of passing along knowledge.

Join us on a world tour:


  • Child's Play: Japan's Groundbreaking Child-Development Web Site: When the conformist Land of the Rising Sun forges ahead in education innovation, we'd better pay attention.
  • Reading, Writing, and Family: Generations Learn Together: New Zealand's Manukau Family Literacy Program shows that parents and children can help educate each other.
  • Telling Tales: Pakistani Students Share Their Culture's Lore Online: Students create a collaborative, international network of fables and folktales that celebrates and shares cultural heritage.
  • Room to Read: Building Libraries, Schools, and Computer Labs in Developing Countries: One man's simple plan to expand worldwide literacy, thousands of libraries at a time.
  • From Russia, with Learning: Redefining Education in the Former Soviet Union: Project-based learning has replaced grim Communist Party pronouncements at the core of the Russian schoolroom.
  • How Swede It Is: Are Practical (and Affordable) Swedish Preschools Better?: For an American mother living in Stockholm, innovative preschool education makes the long, dark winters tolerable.
  • It Takes a Village -- and a Library: Developing a Reading Culture in Uganda: In the Ugandan countryside, dedicated educators bring the printed word to students desperate for access to the wider world.
  • Go Global Online 2008: More Resources on Educating the Children of the World: Feature articles and video documentaries on the international-education scene.

  • Owen Edwards is a contributing editor for Edutopia and Smithsonian magazines.

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