We are thrilled to have Kristin Waskow joining us for a summer internship. Kristin hails from Dallas, Texas, and is studying to be a primary teacher. Read about her experiences with global learning in her new blog post here!
I’d like to begin by telling you a little bit about myself and my experiences with global learning. I am currently a student at Texas A&M University studying to become an elementary (primary) school teacher. In the fall I will begin my final year. Throughout my entire life, I have lived in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. I went to school with most of the same students from Kindergarten (age 5), until I graduated high school (age 18). I am not complaining, though. I loved the opportunities I had growing up and schools I attended. The schools I attended were very diverse. I had friends from different cultures who were Asian, African American and Indian.
Let me start off by giving you a quick synopsis of what school is like in the US (some things are a little different than they are here in the UK). In the US, most of the schools are public (government funded). Each state can either choose to align with the national curriculum (Common Core Standards) or make their own approved state curriculum (in Texas we call the standards “TEKS”, which stands for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). Each city or town is legally responsible for creating their own schools and school system. Students are “zoned” to schools based on where they live and must attend the school that is closest to them.
During my elementary school years (age 5 to 11), I rarely remember discussing global events. When the 9/11 attacks occurred, we did not really discuss what had happened in school (I think the nation was in shock so no one, especially the teachers, really knew what to talk about). I was in first grade (age 6) at the time, which is quite young, so the topic of terrorism was a scary subject for teachers to mention to us. We did, however, make cards to send to the firefighters and law enforcement thanking them for their service.
I remember my elementary school specifically focusing on Black History Month (which is celebrated in February in the US). We talked a lot about slavery and the different people that influenced the Civil Rights Movement in the US (Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, etc). We also celebrated Chinese New Year (in January) and had a parent come in and discuss the meaning of the holiday and reason behind the celebration. She brought in traditional foods that we got to taste and decorations and games that we got to see and play with. I always enjoyed getting to learn about these different topics. I feel like my teachers did a good job of making these activities fun and engaging for everyone.
Looking back, I now realize that we never really talked about global issues in much detail at that level. As I got older, and my classmates and I became more mature, global topics that might have been labelled as “sensitive” were discussed more often. In my English class we read a book about the Holocaust and discussed the events that happened throughout the war. We discussed subjects with more depth and for the first time, I felt like I was really able to develop an understanding as to what actually happened. Issues like poverty, peace, global warming and natural disasters were discussed as well and I began to develop a global perspective.
As I finish up college and prepare to enter “the real-world”, I am becoming more aware of the realities that many people face around the globe. At one point in time these topics known as “global issues” seemed irrelevant to me since I was not directly affected by them. However, I have come to realize the importance of understanding what is happening around me. I am looking forward to seeing all that I learn through this internship and the ways that it challenges me.