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News: Globalizing Education

Ohio is leading the way and winning awards for the effort

By Margo Pierce · June 4th, 2008 · News
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The number of children in Ohio who can read that word and know that it says "Hello" in Mandarin Chinese is growing, thanks to the efforts of the Ohio Department of Education. Recognized in March for efforts to think globally, the department received a $25,000 District/State Prize for Excellence in International Education from the Asia Society and Goldman Sachs Foundation.

"We want our kids to be globally competent," says Susan Tave Zelman, superintendent of public instruction for the Ohio Department of Education. "What we mean by that is being tech-savvy; being able to communicate in different languages; being able to understand cultural diversity, cultural sensitivity, multiple points of view; being able to collaborate and contribute and work across the globe. Parents, most of whom are working, understand that their own lives are being affected by the shrinking world. They know that their own companies are working across the globe."

The award recognizing the efforts of public schools in Ohio is designed to "encourage U.S. schools to meet these challenges and identify the best of the growing number of examples of international education around the country."

Zelman says math, science, engineering, technology and related fields continue to be important, but she adds that people in those fields "will have to learn how to work collaboratively." That's why understanding the role culture plays in life experience is essential for successful interactions inside and outside the workplace.

"We talk a lot about competition, but the reality is I want for our children to really have that creative and humanitarian edge and to see themselves as collaborators, adding value, developing partnerships," Zelman says. The number of children in Ohio who can read that word and know that it says "Hello" in Mandarin Chinese is growing, thanks to the efforts of the Ohio Department of Education. Recognized in March for efforts to think globally, the department received a $25,000 District/State Prize for Excellence in International Education from the Asia Society and Goldman Sachs Foundation.

"We want our kids to be globally competent," says Susan Tave Zelman, superintendent of public instruction for the Ohio Department of Education. "What we mean by that is being tech-savvy; being able to communicate in different languages; being able to understand cultural diversity, cultural sensitivity, multiple points of view; being able to collaborate and contribute and work across the globe. Parents, most of whom are working, understand that their own lives are being affected by the shrinking world. ... They know that their own companies are working across the globe."

The award recognizing the efforts of public schools in Ohio is designed to "encourage U.S. schools to meet these challenges and identify the best of the growing number of examples of international education around the country."

Zelman says math, science, engineering, technology and related fields continue to be important, but she adds that people in those fields "will have to learn how to work collaboratively." That's why understanding the role culture plays in life experience is essential for successful interactions inside and outside the workplace.

"We talk a lot about competition, but the reality is I want for our children to really have that creative and humanitarian edge and to see themselves as collaborators, adding value, developing partnerships," Zelman says. "They have to be good synthesizers. They have to understand how to work in other cultures, in other places. I have a son who's a chip designer for Intel. He works with people all over the world in that capacity. He's had to learn about Indian culture and Indian ways of knowing to be a better collaborative team member."

Acknowledging the reality of tight school budgets, Zelman says educators can easily incorporate cultural components into existing curriculum and utilize resources within the community. One way the state is helping local teachers with that effort is through the development of specific curriculum. A collaboration with Sesame Street is preparing a pre-kindergarten multimedia curriculum in Chinese, and a partnership with Ohio State University is developing a Chinese curriculum for secondary schools.

To date, 47 schools across the state have implemented Chinese language programs. More people on Earth speak Chinese than Spanish or any other foreign language, according to Zelman, and that's the reason for so much emphasis within the state.

Zelman has also established the International Education Advisory Committee, a collaborative effort to bring the expertise of business, education and community groups together to develop a vision and strategic plan for international education throughout Ohio. In addition to offering resources to the public via its Web site (www.thinkgolbalohio.org), the advisory committee hopes to add specific curricular resources for teachers in the near future and hold regional seminars this fall focusing on the need for cultural awareness.

In the meantime, they support an "externship" program for teachers. Teachers spend time with a host company learning first-hand how international business affects local businesses and therefore the community.

"One of the things we realized is that teachers themselves, because they spend most of their times in school, are somewhat insular to the impact that the global economy is having," Zelman says. "Through some of our business partnerships, there are externships for teachers ... to bring that globalism, that perspective back into the classroom."

Noting the Procter & Gamble is an avid supporter of the committee and the externship program, Zelman also appreciates the international education programs in Cincinnati area school districts.

"There's the Academy of World Languages in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), and they offer elementary Chinese as well as Arabic and Russian," she says. "There are world languages being offered at the Winton Woods School District. Loveland is going to add Chinese next year. There's the Academy of Multi-Lingual Immersion ... which offers students partial immersion, for example, learning content for other disciplines in Spanish."

CPS offers classes in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish. At Withrow International High School, students have an opportunity to participate in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, which Zelman would like to see in more high schools throughout the state.

The school also offers an International Language Program and an International Business Program with a full academic program and four years of a foreign language. The business track focuses on business and financial management as well as international law.

Zelman believes this kind of education is essential to "prepare our students for this new, smaller world ... (so that) they can be globally competent and be the global citizens of the world. We want our children to create a better humanity than what we've given them." ©

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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