A group of active young people gathered together for a climate strike for the second time. A similar event was arranged simultaneously in over 100 countries. Global education is an increasingly relevant challenge for schools, which help provide young with the knowledge and skills they will need as modern citizens. As a concept, however, global education at schools is often unfocused, and resources are lacking. How should this challenge be addressed in pedagogy?

The conceptualization of global education is challenging because global phenomena are so diverse. These concepts are not part of our daily vocabulary. Finland’s national core curriculum leaves global education open, to be implemented differently in different schools.

In research, global education is associated with the concept of cosmopolitanism, which is also part of the basic values in the national curriculum. Research-wise, both concepts are linked to differing approaches and emphases. In general, global education encompasses the global dimensions of citizenship education, which include human rights, multiculturalism, peace promotion, prevention of conflicts, development policy and sustainable development. The common denominator in all of these is global responsibility.

Many civic organizations are, in practice, also active global educators in their own sector. The principles and spheres of operations of the organizations clearly reveal the multifaceted nature as well as the shared aspects of global phenomena.

The organizations have produced, on the basis of their content expertise, materials, modes of working and tips for global education at schools. Many teachers have already improved their own competence in training arranged by organizations. Some regular fund-raising campaigns are so self-evidently included in the activities of schools that they are not necessarily recognized as cooperation.

Trainers from organizations can cooperate on workshops together with teachers during classes. For example, in Vastamainos workshops, students discuss global trade and ways of influencing across the subjects of history, geography and language. The method of working was developed by a civic organization functioning for ethical trade. On this basis, the scope of corrective teaching may be broadened in schools.

Networking has proved functional in increasing the cooperation and visibility of the global education arranged by civic organizations. In a recent meeting of education experts, a network was formed for researchers working on global education. The networks are already naturally connected with each other. This has provided a good opportunity for promoting the interaction and unity of practical expertise and scientific research. This supports the research-based development of pedagogy, phenomenon-based learning and the active role of students. Creative and approved pedagogical alternatives are expected to help meet the diverse needs of global education.

In schools, teachers will not be left alone in their global education. Resources for supporting teaching may be found in cooperation with external partners.

Leena Lestinen
Senior Researcher
Finnish Institute for Educational Research

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