Because the world is our backyard, it is imperative to develop global citizens beginning with our youngest students. Global Leadership is a core value at Morgan Park Academy, and we instill this principle even in our Lower School children. Through developing cultural awareness and an appreciation of others, students recognize and participate in a global community, understand their interdependence with others, and realize their citizenship spans countries and continents.
Opportunities to interact with the world are embedded within the Lower School curriculum, not simply saved for a week or two during Global Explorers Week. Throughout the year, our faculty nurtures the same core values students practice at home: compassion, respect, responsibility, honesty, and service. As students experience global opportunities in their everyday curriculum, knowledge of their surrounding world grows and they become compassionate, empathetic global citizens. A global learning initiative entails more than teaching geography. Here are a few examples of global learning within our curriculum of the elementary grades:
- In all grade levels, students explore and share various cultural holidays. As we read several books on Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Eid, students recognize similarities among the faiths and practices during these holidays. They realize that candles and light stand for hope, peace, love, and joy in several religions. They witness families from many cultures celebrating their faith, giving thanks, and sharing with others less fortunate. Last week’s Diwali Assembly was a beautiful example of this sharing of cultures within our student body.
- Our fifth grade social studies course is World Geography and novels read in language arts have been paired with various regions of the world to deepen the understanding of the area. Currently, students are studying Southern Asia and are reading the novel, I Am Malala.
- Fifth and third grades are involved in a video correspondence with classrooms in New Delhi through an organization called LumenEd. This yearlong video pen pal program provides an opportunity for our students to engage in a global dialogue with students and schools in developing countries. Students learn, share, and collaborate with one another in this cultural exchange.
- As part of a math project in a unit on money, fourth graders examined currencies from around the world. While investigating various countries, students discovered unique currency on Niue, an island country northeast of New Zealand. Niue has Pokémon coins and Star Wars bills! This revelation sparked students to design some of their own creative cash.
- Second graders assume the role of photographers and take an imaginary trip to Africa. As they learn about the geography and culture of the Maasai people, they recognize the similarities between our two cultures, such as the importance of family and tradition, respect for elders, responsibility of household chores, and the love of outdoors and animals. While on their “trip,” they must successfully resolve a cultural misunderstanding. Students discover that ignorance of a culture is not an excuse; they must take time to understand others.
- Our second grade scientists study various habitats found around the world. They discover how plants and animals adapt to survive in unique environments ranging from the arctic tundra to the harsh deserts found on our planet.
At all grade levels in the elementary years, our students realize that community extends far beyond our neighborhoods. Students move beyond a cultural acceptance to a cultural celebration. They truly are excited to be citizens of the world!
By Liz Raser
Mrs. Raser teaches second grade and is our Assistant Lower School Principal and the Curriculum Leader for the Elementary Team.