Teachers are increasingly seeking new ways to teach their students about global awareness. Including more global issues into the curriculum is vital in today’s multicultural society. It can help students grow into global citizens, prepare them to live in the global society, and teach them how to navigate and succeed in this increasingly interconnected world that we live in.
Students are part of something bigger than themselves, and giving them the opportunity to understand this can ignite a passion to become more culturally responsible and sensitive.
However, with classes that are always short on time, it can be tough to add global learning activities on top of all the other learning objectives you already have. If you feel strongly about global awareness, however, you can prioritize these activities without taking up too much time.
Here are seven easy ways in which teachers can incorporate more global issues during class time.
1. Multicultural Books
One of the easiest and most effective ways to teach children about global awareness is to encourage them to read multicultural books, in which characters of different ethnicities, religions, and cultures can transport them on a global adventure.
Multicultural children’s books can not only help children learn about their cultural heritages, but it can also teach respect, dispel stereotypes, and showcase universal human feelings.
Multicultural books can teach children about the world that exists beyond their communities.
2. International Sports
Different countries play sports in different ways (such as European vs South American soccer), and others may have sporting events that aren’t readily seen in Canada. Exposing your students to international sporting events, such as the World Cup or the Olympics, or having them play different international sports during gym or recess can help them get excited about the differences that exist in the world.
What better way to allow your students to explore different cultural experiences than through food? Having a class potluck, where each student brings a dish from his or her cultural heritage, can be an excellent opportunity to teach kids about cultural diversity and sensitivity.
4. Field Trips
Taking a class trip to another country to expose your students to local cultures and foods around the world may not be possible. However, they can still encounter new cultures through field trips to nearby ethnic restaurants or heritage museums.
5. Online Programs
Children from kindergarten to high school can participate in the collaborative Worldwide Book Club project, in which students can connect with other students from around the world to discuss books.
Skype in the Classroom is another excellent program that allows classrooms to connect with other people around the world for free.
6. Google Field Trip App
The Google Field Trip app can allow your students to explore new geographies from the comfort of the classroom. Students can zoom in to specific locations using the map feature, or search for areas of interest, and find a wealth of information about interesting sites in the area, such as monuments, museums, haunted hotels, and theme parks.
7. Global Games
Exposing children to games that are played around the world can make global awareness teachings a lot of fun. Global games like Cat and Mice from the Philippines, Wee Bologna Man from Scotland, Kukla, Hit the Can from Turkey, and Crab Race from Japan can keep global awareness teachings engaging for younger children in particular.
We Need Diverse Books is more than just an organization; it’s a movement. People of colour and people who have been historically underrepresented in books are taking a stand. And thankfully, some publishers have listened. They understand the many reasons to create—and to read—multicultural books for children.
Here are just a few of those reasons.
1. Society Is Diverse
We live in a global society. People emigrate from all over the world to live in Canada. Cultures, races, and religions are all mixed together. We are all living as one. Only creating white characters in books simply isn’t representative of the diversity that exists in society today, especially in Canada where diversity plays an important role. Multicultural books for children with characters of different ethnicities present a realistic picture of society.
2. Understanding Those Around Us
Diverse books also enhance our understanding of different cultures, ethnicities, and experiences. This can help us relate to those we interact with. Because we live in a multicultural society, reading diverse books to children can help them develop empathy and acceptance towards their peers and nurture meaningful relationships in classrooms, on playgrounds, and beyond.
3. Taking Us Back to Our Roots
Ethnic-centric children’s books are valuable. They can help open up conversations with children about their roots—their ancestors, their heritages, and their family traditions. It can help children better understand why they dress a certain way or eat certain foods when others in their classes do not, for example.
4. Linguistic Diversity
Diverse books also allow for linguistic diversity. Multicultural books for children that are set in a cultural backdrop, like Missing Nimâmâ, often have words scattered in the text or have a glossary in the back in the affiliated language. Bilingual books are not only fun for children, but they also offer a great way to introduce children to new languages.
5. Global Awareness
Although we’re certainly advocates of Canadian literature, we also understand the importance of reading books from around the world. Multicultural books for children that are set in other areas of the world offer informative historical and geographical details. They also improve global awareness for kids. Plus, these types of books can also take children to faraway places that they may never be able to visit, expanding their horizons while they read in the comfort of their own homes.
6. Abolishing Stereotypes
Stereotypes, skewed images, and clichés of different cultures abound in the media. High-quality multicultural books for children can abolish stereotypes and dispel common myths and misconceptions, helping children learn facts and see real portrayals of marginalized groups.
7. Identifying with Characters
All kids deserve to read stories with characters, cultures, and communities that they can relate to. It’s only natural that we would want to relate to the characters in a book. But mainstream books make it very difficult for marginalized groups to be able to do so. Diverse books can help more children, from varying backgrounds, find stories that they can relate to and characters that they can identify with. This can foster a love of reading and put children on a path of self-discovery.
Children’s reading diets should be well balanced. Multicultural children’s books can open up the world, help kids identify and relate, and help them become more prepared for anything that life brings them.