Empowering Students to Become Global Citizens

Today’s students live in a world more connected and integrated than at any other time in human history. That’s a big deal. It affects how students live, play and, yes, get educated. As members of smaller communities within this larger global context, students need to be empowered to open their learning lens to new perspectives. The empowered student of today becomes the healthy global citizen of tomorrow. But what are global citizens? Why is global citizenship education important? What does it mean to empower students to become global citizens? Let’s take a look. 

What are global citizens?

Global citizenship is the idea that we have rights and responsibilities as members of a global community, not just as citizens of a nation or a particular place. This larger, interconnected world is organized around multiple viewpoints from a diverse array of people. To be a global citizen means holding a broader vision of the world and its people. 

What is global citizenship education?

Global citizenship education is civic learning with a worldwide perspective. Students are active in projects that address social, political, economic and environmental issues on a global scale. They are challenged to foster a global consciousness and address the ethical aspect of global issues.

Within smaller communities, students are often of similar backgrounds and cultural understandings, but the larger world is a complicated mix of distinctions, cultures and perspectives. It is difficult to solve problems and grow sustainable communities within our huge connected world if we are not able to navigate this global community.

Global citizenship education empowers students with navigation tools. It allows students the opportunity to learn about and grow within this wider world. Students gain purpose and confidence to become active participants in both their smaller communities and the larger global community. 

By opening up new perspectives and expanding their worldview, students obtain a sense of responsibility to:

  • Know what is happening in the world
  • See their role in the world
  • Advocate for issues they believe in

Global learners develop global competencies and skills that enable them to not only participate in an integrated and changing world but to shape it for the better. 

Global competencies for the 21st century include:

  • Self-awareness
  • Respect for differences
  • Sense of global connection
  • Curiosity
  • Flexibility
  • Effective and appropriate communication
  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Empathy
  • Understanding global issues
  • Intercultural knowledge

Global citizenship education is not a one-and-done event but an ongoing initiative that is woven into the curriculum and everyday classroom activities. 

Benefits of Global Citizenship Education

Our current world is experiencing formidable challenges across social, political, economic and environmental sectors. Students require experiences that build empathy and the confidence to act as global citizens in a global world.

By engaging in a global learning platform, students develop a sense of empathy along with creative problem-solving skills. They learn how to address issues that impact not only their communities but the global community as well.

Students develop the ability to:

  • Investigate and weigh multiple perspectives
  • Interact with diverse audiences with respect and appreciation
  • Initiate action with global awareness and citizenship
  • Engage with world issues critically and analytically
  • Understand how people are shaped by different circumstances and cultures
  • Reflect on personal actions and attitudes
  • Take responsibility for making the world a better place
  • Ask questions and seek answers beyond the local
  • Adapt to new situations and new information
  • Draw evidence-based conclusions
  • Pursue objective and accurate information

Through global citizenship education, students build a global understanding of how laws are rooted in history and culture and evolved over time. They develop how to relate to real-world challenges and issues. They learn methods of cooperation to resolve conflicts and solve problems. They become leaders who can proactively make the world a better place – a benefit that can reach everyone. 

How to Teach Global Citizenship

The first step in teaching global citizenship is student empowerment. By helping to create the empowered student, educators have the opportunity to guide students in activating a global citizenship mindset. Students learn to use their voices and are empowered to amplify them. The empowered student can effectively communicate what they have to say to become leaders and change-makers. But how do schools empower students? 

What is student empowerment?

Student empowerment means that students are active participants in their education. It is difficult to teach a global perspective if students are not engaged with the concept. Asking students to reach beyond what they may know, understand or even see takes full participation. Full participation needs to be activated.  

To help activate student participation in global learning, provide opportunities for students to:

  • Engage with peers from other cultures
  • Ask questions that require curiosity and a deeper dive into concepts
  • Exercise their critical thinking skills
  • Consider broader global impacts and benefits in discussions
  • Guide their own learning and come up with their own conclusions
  • Explore multiple viewpoints through debate
  • Recognize, discuss, confront and overcome biases  

Teaching Strategies for Empowering Students

Some teaching strategies authentically empower students to deeply engage with materials and concepts. This creates an environment where students take the lead in their learning and teachers become guides for student achievement.

Inquiry-Based Learning

This is a student-led teaching strategy that allows students to use their curiosity to guide their learning by asking great questions. Students learn through thoughtful exploration, play, projects, discussions and interdisciplinary study. Teachers create an environment that feeds student curiosity and is filled with challenging questions. Students are guided to evolve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well as cooperation, persistence, social-emotional learning and creativity. 

Project-Based and Cooperative Learning

Students work together in structured groups. They engage in discussions, collaborate to solve problems and cooperate to tackle complex projects. Students engage in discovery, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. Project-based and cooperative learning promotes self-esteem, peer-to-peer learning and inclusion. It invokes deeper discussion and the weighing of different viewpoints.

Authentic Assessment

Students apply learning and knowledge to new circumstances or situations that replicate real-world circumstances or tasks. They become deeply engaged through observation, interviews, portfolios, exhibitions, demonstrations, performance tasks or journals. Authentic assessment allows students to extend their knowledge and develop higher learning skills along with 21st century competencies. 

Gamification and Game-Based Learning

Both of these teaching strategies use game parameters to deepen engagement and sustain motivation in learning. Gamification applies the game framework to existing learning activities, and game-based learning designs new activities with game-like structures. It brings a sense of play to the classroom, promotes creativity and collaboration, and deepens student understanding of lesson material. 

Role Playing

A form of experiential learning, role playing puts students in a leadership role and allows them to apply knowledge, understanding and content that was learned into making decisions mirroring real-world outcomes. It brings a sense of storytelling into the classroom, illuminating issues and policies, fostering debate and prompting action and thought. It develops critical thinking and empathy and gives students the ability to apply curriculum and core understanding to larger issues. 

Guest Speakers

Personal narratives are powerful teaching tools. Guest speakers with different cultures, backgrounds and perspectives can open up a student’s worldview. It is an opportunity for students to see and hear different ways of looking at a problem and to learn about people who are affected by world issues.

Global Materials

Stories are powerful too. By bringing global stories into the classroom and weaving them into the curriculum students have the opportunity to engage with different cultural viewpoints. Art, stories, music, performances and dance from different cultures and perspectives can create empathy and world understanding. Through reflection and discussion the materials can connect to students’ lives, community and world issues and events. 

The Empowered Student

Not every student is empowered in the same way. Appealing to different learning styles helps pave the way for students to engage with the material and participate through different pathways.

Different learning styles include:

  • Spatial
  • Auditory
  • Linguistic
  • Kinesthetic
  • Mathematical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal

The National Theatre for Children considers these learning styles to approach education through diverse pedagogy. Through creative learning activities, we not only present material but inspire students to integrate it into their lives. Our comprehensive educational resources and learning tools connect with as many different students as possible.

We create an empowering experience for students through:

  • Virtual livestream events
  • Live in-school performances
  • Instructional and educational videos for students, educators and family members
  • E-learning packages
  • Print curriculum
  • Games for online and classroom use

The innovative, integrated and interdisciplinary learning activities offered by The National Theatre for Children help shape the empowered student, who empowers their peers, families and communities. Students gain important life skills and 21st century competencies that prepare them for global citizenship. The impact connects students to their communities and helps build a stronger future for our interconnected world.

Empowering Students to Become Global Citizens