Global Citizenship Education

a Case Study of a New Zealand School

Libby Giles, Libby Giles, November 2019

Libby Giles is a Senior Teacher at St Cuthbert’s School in Aotearoa New Zealand. Libby has a mandate to introduce a whole of school approach to Global Citizenship Education. In this article she reviews how this works in the school, and ways in which the progamme links with UNESCO’s programmes in other countries; an example is Vietnam. The article shows how responsibility provides a theme for Global Citizenship Education. It tells the story of a teacher’s leadership and links a local programme with a global education network.

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Global Citizenship Education in New Zealand

In the role of Global Citizenship Senior Strategist, I have continued to embed a whole school and philosophical approach to global citizenship education embedded at St Cuthbert’s College in Auckland, New Zealand. It is the framework through which we deliver knowledge, wisdom, skills, and well-being.

Global citizenship at St Cuthbert’s has the full support of the senior leadership. The first thing was to name it as a whole school initiative, create a leadership roles to manage it and a home for planning, learning, and associated activities.

The naming of the initiative is vital to its existence and the understanding of its essence. Many opportunities are available for students and teachers to participate locally and internationally on global issues but without someone to receive the mail and match the people and participation, opportunities are lost. Furthermore, a coordinator is there to inform and support the school community on the development of GCED and to help make connections. The coordinator facilitates professional development within the school, globally and across sectors and works with students to develop understanding and participation. The creation of such a role allows for the sustainability of the initiative, with a management role, rather than an individual at its centre.

Not aligned to a subject or confined to the classroom, the library at St Cuthbert’s has become home to the “global commons”, as an interdisciplinary space for students and the wider college community to share in the love of literature and learning. A common space for being, for living together, for sharing and for participation for the common good. Symposiums are hosted for a diverse range of secondary and tertiary students from around the country, and eventually the world. Topics have included the existential threats of climate change and nuclear weapons and more recently, an Accelerated Action symposium was held to prepare students for active roles in New Zealand’s second Sustainable Development Goals summit and the youth climate strikes. The students who had taken part in the symposium felt empowered by a deeper understanding to participate at the summit.

Responsibility is at the heart of the initiative, from the philosophical to the practical – responsibility to seek truth and act ethically. Students have taken part in a wide range of activities inside and outside the school. They have worked with Generation Zero and the Climate Strike movement as well as launching their own campaigns to connect with communities and take steps towards achieving the SDGs. Two campaigns gained recognition as having an impact at the Global Social Leaders awards:

• ‘Pencils, Papers, Pens’ - collected unused and donated stationery for redistribution in New Zealand and the Pacific;

• ‘Sisters and Allies’ – the focus of this campaign is period poverty and the distribution of donated sanitary products

A wider global citizenship group has been established where students develop their own projects according to their skills and interests, a number of creative initiatives are in development.

We need to value education beyond assessment. The demands of assessment hold us to an industrialised model, producing well-oiled machines for pumping out winners, doing little to develop thinkers ready to act in a complex, connected world. St Cuthbert’s has developed an integrated programme of learning call HUB (health, university, and beyond) which develops life skills for its girls and an understanding of their place in the world. HUB at St Cuthbert’s draws together an enrichment programme that promotes self-development, well-being, and human flourishing. HUB delivers a whole approach to learning that integrates the abstract with the practical and values education beyond assessment. Year 9-11 students are taught worldviews in the classroom where they learn mindfulness, comparative worldviews, philosophy, and applied ethics.

Global citizenship activities are becoming a part of the fabric of the school community, Love and Diversity week celebrates love and diversity in all forms in a fun and informative way that connects the whole college. Fair trade week ends with a baking competition in which goods must contain at least one fair trade ingredient. The end products are impressive and the learning along the way between parents and students is extensive.

In 2020 there are plans to undertake projects in regenerative practice, most likely the first project will focus on water as a connecting good.

Also in 2020, the college will take a Global Citizenship trip to Costa Rica. The trip is closely aligned to the SDGS and includes activities to promote service to the community, self-growth and learning. The students will be hosted for one day of activities by the Earth Charter Centre at the University for Peace.

It is my intention to host more sharing and learning opportunities for students and educators at the College and to extend these opportunities to parents and other members of the community. I wish to further empower students to bring youth voice and activism to decision making platforms. The SDG summit was a good example of demonstrating that fully engaged school students can foot it with adults with ease. Having attended the New Zealand Climate Change and Business conference in October, I would very much like to see students workshop with business leaders and other stakeholders.

Development and Professional Learning

It has been a busy year for attending conferences, teacher training and workshops

UNESCO’s Fourth Forum for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED) was held in Ha Noi, Vietnam from 2-3 July. The theme was ‘Learning and Teaching for Peaceful and Sustainable Societies: From early childhood to primary and secondary education’.

It was a privilege to participate in the forum, as a representative of St Cuthbert’s and as a specialist practitioner of GCED, to learn from others and to share experiences. Strengthening existing relationships and making new contacts is important for consistency and progress in these areas of education.

UNESCO launched its ESD and GCED Up Close, a summary of a study that examined whether, and to what extent , three learning dimensions of ESD and GCED (cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural) are prioritised in curricula at pre-primary, primary education (PE) and secondary education (SE) levels in ten countries from across the world.

The findings and take-home lessons of the report were largely predictable, including:

 A variety of emphasis on the three domains of learning across countries, year levels, systems and learning areas.

 The importance of holistic education

 The value of a whole school approach to implementing ESD/GCED

 The study was limited by its sole examination of curriculum and policy and that what is needed is analysis of what happens in the classroom and the wider school community.

The forum set out to provide a platform to exchange experience and innovative approaches on how to address gaps and fully harness the potential of these three domains of learning, at pre-primary, PE and SE levels, in order to support sustainable development and global citizenship.

The limits of the study itself and the questions posed to participants, prioritising and ranking the three domains of learning, dominated the first part of the forum and reduced the potential for valuable exchanges of experience and ideas. This generated some controversy and criticism that I think reflected the depth of understanding of what ESD/GCED are and what is needed, that has developed since the first UNESCO conference on GCED that I attended in 2013.

I had the privilege of taking part in a panel discussion, alongside Arjen Wals, Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability, Wangeningen University. The question for discussion: “How to reinforce behavioural learning at the secondary level?” The session was moderated by Esther Care, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. While the questions sought to keep us anchored to the ESD and GCED Up Close study, Professor Wals and I shared common understandings and experiences of the nature of what ESD/GCED is and the need to focus on holistic learning that connects knowing, doing, and well-being. That further seeks to develop thinkers capable of navigating complexity and change that can’t be nurtured in outdated structures and models.

The session generated a number of interesting and useful questions and comments from participants clearly interested in practical applications and ideas.

In the New Zealand context, the socio-emotional, behavioural, and cognitive domains of learning are consistent with the principles of biculturalism embedded in the Treaty of Waitangi and linked to Te Ao Māori by three fundamental concepts, outlined in a Ministry of Education online, Pūtātara (A Call to Action). This document incorporates sustainability and global citizenship across the curriculum in Aotearoa New Zealand. Those concepts are:

• Tūrangawaewae – Understanding where I stand

• Kaitiakitanga – Caring for people and place (guardianship)

• Whakapuāwai – Flourishing ever forward

I had the privilege once again to participate as a presenter at the Center for Global Citizenship Education at the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan, 1-18 August. This year’s focus was on engaging Taiwan’s teachers in developing global citizenship education in the classroom.

This year’s event was a series of workshops concentrating on engaging Taiwan’s teachers in developing global citizenship education entitled GCED in the Classroom: Experience Sharing and Exchange of High School Teachers

September began with a productive week in Seoul, primarily as a speaker and participant at APCEIU’s annual Pedagogy and Practice conference. The conference was very well attended with close to 1000 participants and a wide range of expertise on hand. I was also able to share my experiences in a teacher training session at the APCEIU secretariat. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to attend UNESCO’s Asia Pacific Regional Conference. APCEIU operates under the auspices of UNESCO and is a clearing house for resources. It also offers extraordinary learning opportunities for students and educators.

Libby Giles

Auckland, NZ

10 November, 2019


St Cuthbert’s College