Why Global Education Prepares Students for the 21st Century

By: Mr. Willy Fluharty, Director of Nexus Global Studies
In his 2009 article in Independent School Magazine, Erik Gearhart made it clear that educators who set out to prepare students for a globalized world need to be intentional about their goals. Specifically, he asked, do we hope to develop “better competitors with requisite technical skills and knowledge to succeed on a ‘flat’ playing field? Better critics of unjust globalized forces, motivated and able to act to reduce inequity? Better collaborators, ready to work cooperatively with global partners on shared problems? The point of these probing questions is clear. To create excellent global travel programs, we need to know our aims. The good news is that schools can accomplish this clarity of purpose through well-developed and diverse global travel programs combined with a global curriculum that intellectually prepares students for those overseas experiences. Certainly, we want our graduates to succeed in their chosen professional fields — to be global competitors with requisite technical skills and knowledge. Yet for schools committed to global education, making students aware of global issues should also be a primary focus. In today’s world, we need to educate students to be critical thinkers who can collaborate with international partners to create both social and economic change, contribute to humanity, and develop a deep appreciation for the diversity of the world. Beyond these immediate benefits to students, global education, specifically, experiential education provides students the opportunity to gain specific skill sets that will help them be more successful in post-secondary life.

Self Awareness
“Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong, good or bad.”  ~ Debbie Ford

Leaders must have a deep sense of self-awareness to not only understand their place in the world but how they interact with it. Purposeful travel provides a path to learning about oneself through the challenges of experiencing the world. Experiences are the building blocks that create the foundation of our character. The more experiences we have, the studier our foundation. Travel can increase self-confidence which is a fundamental character trait for success.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” ~ Muhammad Ali

Travel teaches students to become comfortable with a certain level of risk inherent in all travel. For business leaders, calculating acceptable risk and assuming it is critical aspects of leadership. By traveling, students gain the needed familiarity and tolerance with risk, a skill set that helps them succeed beyond high school.

“The most important factor in survival is neither intelligence nor strength but adaptability.”   ~ Charles Darwin

Adaptability is a key skill set for the 21st century and travel takes a student outside of their comfort zone pushing them to adapt. Being able to easily adjust one's approach to a new situation is critical to success especially in an increasingly globalized world where we are more likely to work with people from other countries.

Understanding and tolerance
“The highest result of education is tolerance.” ~  Helen Keller

By traveling and immersing our students in different cultures, they become more tolerant of diversity. Tolerating diversity, understanding it and eventually empathizing with cultural differences are skill sets needed not only for international business but increasingly in our own country where our national diversity creates a need for increased understanding and tolerance.

“Fall seven times, Stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb.
In travel, students learn that things don’t always work out the way they had anticipated. By experiencing unexpected challenges and change of travel, students learn to persevere and forge ahead in spite of the setbacks. Grit is a character trait that is acquired by managing change and travel is the essence of perpetual change.


“Beyond Sightseeing: Maximizing Your Students International Experience” by William G. Fluharty and Joseph Vogel, Independent School Magazine

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