Last week, my staff in New York City had the privilege of attending a reception for new Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, who said, “use local experience to build global peace.” That concept resonates with our work at iEARN over the past 23 years to connect more than 40,000 teachers in 130 countries to help their students to take action locally while sharing globally with their peers. iEARN participants use high-tech, low-tech or no-tech to participant in STEM, music and arts collaboration, cross-cultural storytelling, and community-service projects, which are designed by teachers and students to enhance existing classroom curricula.
My first challenge to Campers is: what new tools and resources can help teachers and students worldwide make their local experiences contribute meaningfully to the health and welfare of the planet and its people? Can efforts like HistoryPin enhance global understanding through classroom history projects such as the Local History Project , the Early People’s Symbols Project , the Kindred (Family History) Project, and the Public Art Project ? Can Google GEO APIs help scale global environmental projects such as Our Footprints, Our Future Daffodils and Tulips, Talking Kites and YouthCaN?
The second challenge is: what new technologies can help policy-makers, education-focused foundations, corporations, entrepreneurs, and community-based organizations to “visualize” the importance of global education? In the United States, what iEARN-USA and our partners do is relatively rare: very few of the 120,000+ US K-12 schools emphasize global education and connect their teachers and students to peers worldwide despite new technologies that make it relatively easy & inexpensive to do so. Preparing the next generation of global leaders—despite this being an economic and national security priority for the US government—is a low priority and deemed extracurricular for most US schools. Learning is becoming global, networked, and mobile. US classrooms are not. Sharing stories of classrooms connecting internationally is our first attempt to create some national momentum, but new ideas and partners are needed.
Look forward to this weekend with you.