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Global Education

Global Competency: Valuing Differences

Participate Learning’s mission is to unite our world through global learning and to provide equitable education opportunities for all students. But how do schools infuse global learning opportunities across grade levels, subject areas, and school-wide activities, in a way that supports existing initiatives? What skills and attitudes should students have to help them become globally competitive for their future careers and success? How do students develop into engaged citizens of the world?

To help schools and educators answer these questions, Participate Learning identified ten global competencies young people need to develop the skills necessary for global competitiveness. Engaging with these competencies helps students become global leaders who pay attention to the world, feel connected to it, and take action to make it a better place. 

This is the second in a series of blog posts diving into each global competency to give you a more detailed definition of each one and practical resources to integrate into your teaching instruction. The second global competency we will look at is valuing differences.

Skills and attitudes of students who value differences

Global citizens value diversity. They seek out multiple perspectives, understanding that they have much to learn from people who have different experiences.

Students who value differences show openness and respect for people of other cultural backgrounds. They are willing to learn about, and engage with, people who have experiences and beliefs different from their own. Global citizens don’t ignore or minimize significant differences in cultures or beliefs, but rather, they respect the rights of others and recognize their intrinsic worth. 

As educators who will often introduce students to new cultures and perspectives, discuss the difference between the concept of tolerating differences and valuing them. Tolerance can mean to simply endure differences, rather than value them. Students demonstrating global competence will value cultural traditions and perspectives other than their own. Valuing differences in others recognizes the dignity, rights, and equality of others. 

What might this look like in your classroom? Invite your students to pick a way to celebrate the different perspectives and cultures, perhaps through games from around the world, art projects, or music. Try one of these ideas.

Global education as the vehicle to valuing differences

In the 21st century, students need to do more than master academic skills. They must be engaged global citizens who positively contribute to society. Teaching students to value diversity is critical to making the world a more peaceful, productive place. In addition to this inspirational goal, learning to value differences will also help students be more prepared to be leaders and problem-solvers in adulthood.

Global education as a framework for learning teaches students to value cultural diversity, seeing it as an asset to any community or situation. You can build this mindset by starting with your school and your classroom. Any learning environment should be a place where all students are treated with dignity and value. Be sure, through both actions and words, that students know their cultural heritage is valuable and an asset to the learning environment. Creating a culture of respect and understanding will help students see how diversity enriches their school and the broader world.

Model valuing differences through action-driven learning 

Action-driven global learning gives real-world context and purpose to academic standards. It leads to deep learning experiences for students, which helps them develop not only their problem-solving and critical thinking skills but also the global competency of valuing differences. 

Furthermore, establishing mutual respect among students lays the foundation for deep global learning. As students learn academic concepts through a global lens, their knowledge of the world, its cultures, and its political or economic issues broadens. Students are able to contextualize their learning, connecting it to local and global issues. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a useful framework to introduce global issues to students and empower them to find ways to make a difference in their local and global communities. 

As you help students learn to value differences, they are taking their first steps toward becoming engaged global leaders. Bringing a global perspective to your school opens up the world to your students, developing their intercultural knowledge.

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts that focus on applying other global competencies! We would love to hear how you are developing global citizens in your classroom. With Global Leaders, students experience learning that goes beyond mastery of specific academic skills; they develop solutions and ideas to change the world. Share your lessons and activities on social media using #UnitingOurWorld.

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