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Climate Conference Week: the importance of an international curriculum

During the pandemic the entire world was at a standstill. Confined to our homes, we began to witness the striking benefits of stillness – rivers repopulated, dirty lakes revealed clear waters, nature wondered closer than ever before – the world was at peace. For us, however, it was turmoil and pain, and getting back to work, back to school and to see families was important; regaining a sense of normalcy was needed.

The current curriculums around the globe whether chosen by teacher, school, or government, must provide a sense of global competence for students. Photo: Fieldwork Education

"[Children's] view of the world is arguably the most important, as they will be the future leaders that take on the struggles and incite change"

The climate, however, will not ‘return to normal’ – after years of slow damage from emissions and endless deforestation, it will not be us that live through the change but the younger generation. Thus, the importance of climate awareness to prepare students on an international scale is paramount.

The current curriculums around the globe whether chosen by teacher, school, or government must provide a sense of global competence for students. Their view of the world is arguably the most important, as they will be the future leaders and teachers that take on the struggles and ultimately incite change.

To ensure we are providing the tools for young learners to be informed, globally competent and socially conscious individuals, the International Early Years Curriculum, International Primary Curriculum, and International Middle Years Curriculum are all developed with international focus. Students are encouraged and motivated to positively contribute within a local and global context.

For Early Years children this is seen in the ability to form positive relationships with other children, adults, and the natural world around them. The recently developed IEYC International Dimension of Learning and Development ensures children gain knowledge and increased understanding beyond their own nationality and identity. Through IEYC learning activities, children learn the independence and interdependence of people, countries and cultures and begin to take action within their world.

The IPC focuses on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Primary children, with the aim of ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all. Opportunities to dig deeper into issues such as sustainability, climate action, conservation, nutrition, and well-being are provided in the curriculum whilst also developing children’s personal dispositions and international mindedness. This is achieved through increased engagement with global issues from leaders, teachers, children and the community.

“The recently developed IEYC International Dimension of Learning and Development ensures children gain knowledge and increased understanding beyond their own nationality and identity”

For Middle Year students this is also explored using SDGs, but there is a heavier focus on real world interpretation. Focused on a big idea, the students are encouraged to think about identity, entrepreneurship, leadership, responsibility, and many other factors that relate to real world issues. Driving learning around complex decision making and the desire for exploration and aspiration the IMYC adds emphasis on the reflection stage of learning, enabling students to gain the appropriate knowledge but also to think on a wider aspect of how this knowledge can impact themselves and others in relation to the real-world.

Creating a learning environment in which all learners are provided with the toolkit to acknowledge real world issues, as well as gain the necessary skills to innovate further, is a vital aspect of any curriculum. Using a framework which provides students with support and coaches as well as teaches can make a discernible difference globally.  Climate change is just one of the real-world issues that must be taught in a way that incites discovery and persistence; we as learning facilitators have the power to create learners who want to make global change.

About the author: Fieldwork Education provides International Curriculum, Professional Learning and Accreditation through the International Curriculum Association (ICA) to schools and teachers around the world.

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