Attempting to build a case for global citizenship education aided by the input of technology may appear as an odd, and perhaps ludicrous enterprise. Yet we are convinced that society has a choice to make: it can either ride the wave of the technological revolution, and implement its numerous benefits to the advancement of our goals, or it can obstinately demonize the way the world is changing, and relegate the most visionary forms of engagement with the world to a mere form of escapism.
First of all, let us say what we mean by global citizenship education. Global citizenship is not a cosmopolitan ideology that glorifies the interconnectedness and diversity of our world. Global citizenship is about recognizing that this rock floating in space has to be shared. The way we decide to share its places and resources has and will have profound impacts on the lives of everyone. Of course, one side will argue that collaboration and the redefinition of our relationship with the planet are fundamental building blocks of this recognition, while the other will support more local and traditional forms of organization with little need for exchange and interaction. This is a discussion about the way to solve these issues, and not about their existence. Global citizenship education wants students to understand what living in the 21st century means, and why they should care.
We will not accept any of that talk about the new apathetic generations. Here indeed is where we are fiercely standing with kids the world over. They are learning in an environment that is very often devoid of stimuli, certainly if you compare it with the endless stream of stimuli coming from their phones, computers, and consoles. That they would prefer playing Fortnite to a frontal lecture is hardly surprising. What is surprising is the response of most of educators that see technology as a threat to the development of the individual, rather than the most exciting opportunity to revolutionize the world of education, fundamentally reshaping students’ engagement with subjects of study. The technological advancements of the information revolution have been mostly demonized by the educational system, contributing to the widespread view that the school is a fundamentally static institution. This has created a generation that had no toolbox to deal with the impressive flow and spread of information, and the multiplication of the media of communication. Millenials have partially succumbed to technology, because we decided not to steer its use to our own benefit, and instead condemn it for the way it changed our world.
Schools raise the future. So how is it that they are always looking backwards? Don’t get me wrong. I am the biggest fan of history and I cherish its teachings. But at a time when the future is approaching so fast we have almost missed it, would it not be wise to look forward in our schools, and not only backwards? With just a little bit of imagination, we can envision what a forward looking school would look like. A forward looking school would accept the technological changes and utilize them to its advantage. It would show its students that there are new and exciting ways to engage with learning. It would tell them that it is also up to them to decide what tool suits them best, because the time of one size fits all has come and gone. Most importantly, it would show them that these tools can give them a sense of what the world is grappling with. Migration, climate change, international institutions, food production, and urbanization are issues that deeply affect them. Instead of being disillusioned and uninterested, they may find their way to locally deal with it. A forward looking school would present students a future that is theirs to shape. Take immersive technologies. They have been revolutionizing our approach to the outside world. They are early in the development stage, and yet they have already changed many people’s perspectives on different issues. They are part of this future that is already present, part of those innovations that should not only belong to the game room but also to the classroom. We want our students to see technology not as an escape, but as an integral part of the way we come to see issues and we tackle them together as a society.
All of this is a matter of vision. And we have this vision clear in mind.