Building bridges across borders, demolishing mental walls

“Since wars begin in the mind of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be established.” — UNESCO epigraph

I have recently been asked by two Asia-Europe Classroom Network (AEC-NET) project members, namely Philippine high-school students, to reply to their questions related to the concept of the global teacher. Here goes my response.

1. What are the factors that makes a global teacher?

I think a global teacher is someone who incorporates the global dimension into his/her school-based activities as an integral part of his/her teaching practice. Furthermore, in my view, a global teacher is aware of the fact that we live in an increasingly globalized and interconnected, interdependent world and thus he/she  makes a great effort to get his/her students come to this realization. A global teacher strives to create such a learning environment where students can get first-hand experience in collaborating with their international peers, and where they can express their perspective and views on different issues. In such a multicultural context students can learn not only to tolerate but to appreciate cultural differences and by getting a wider perspective on things they can develop an attitude which can lead them to recognize that they themselves can become the ambassadors of peace, tolerance, human values and human dignity, they themselves can become the agents of change.

A global teacher also knows that global education, intercultural education, human rights education and global citizenship education are all intertwined terms, and none of which can/should be dealt with in isolation.


2. What are the knowledge ,skills and values that a global teacher should posses?

A global teacher should be sensitive to and knowledgeable in the  fields of sustainable development, the topic of interdependence, cultural identity and diversity, human rights, discrimination, racism, prejudice, equality and social justice, peace, conflict resolution. It goes without saying that he/she should possess information about the current state of the world. This means adequate geographic, economic, political, social, and environmental knowledge.  A global teacher should also know how to get his/her students involved in international telecollaborative projects. In order to meet that end, one must have proper IT skills, foreign language skills and of course proper attitude, an open mindset and adequate sensitivity. Also, a global teacher is value-oriented; he /she should exercises self-mastery and the cultivation of virtues.  Knowledge about the project-based method is also a must for someone who takes his/her classes on an intercultural adventure.

3. What are your experiences that contribute a lot in your way of teaching?

First of all, I come from a multicultural background. My mother is from Panama, actually she has just recently got the Hungarian citizenship. My sister was born in America so she has a dual citizenship. She is American and Hungarian. My father and I were born in Hungary. My parents lived in the States for almost a decade before I was born so at home I often heard of many stories that shaped the way of my thinking and perception of the world. Besides these factors, I can also mention that since my dad was a internationally acknowledged medical ethics lecturer at the University of Pecs, we often had foreign guests at our place. I think all these things led me to become interested in intercultural issues.  As an English teacher I soon realized the potential of the Internet in language education and I knew that I had to harness it for the benefit of my students. So I got my classes and school involved in different international projects. Many of them were EU-related ones, such as the Comenius school-partnership project, or the projects which I ran under the auspices of the European Schoolnet, e.g. Spring Day for Europe, FuturEnergia, MyEurope. I have also taken part in a UNESCO project, such as the Mura-Drava cross-border network for intercultural learning project in 2005-2006. In 2009 I established a YouthNet Foundation, which since its foundation has given many students opportunities to participate in international projects (see www.diakhalo.org).  At last but not least, I must add that since 2005 I have been actively involved with my students in AEC-NET projects. My personal experiences, that is, my trips to foreign countries, the friendships I have built with foreign colleagues throughout the years of collaborating together, my working experiences e.g. my one-year work at the European Schoolnet office in Brussels, and my involvement in the work of such organizations like the British Council in Hungary and the Regional Language Office, AEC-NET, European Schoolnet, all these things have contributed to my present cosmopolitan outlook on the world.  

 

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