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Transforming Education for the Future – Americas

The Transforming Education for the Future in the Americas session emphasized the importance of values and intercultural competence and student and teacher agency in education. Transforming education requires a holistic approach instead of strictly a linear, academic approach. The goal of education is growing from creating a thriving student to building a thriving community and society. 

Values and Intercultural Competence

Dr. Dias talked about the significance of connecting students with the community and emphasizing the importance of teaching values. Ms. Deardorff confirmed the current focus on lifelong learning grounded in values, and Mr. Fadel emphasized that there should be a sense of purpose in education. He put forward the question of how can something we do help humankind? Mr. Fadel went on to say equity and social justice are significant issues in everyday life and that humanity should see that "we are all in this together." He recognized that this mindset blurs the line between selfishness and altruism, but at the end of the day, we must help each other. 

Mr. Talreja asserted that we must integrate knowledge and skills with values so that our choices are grounded in their impact on the larger society. Dr. Deardorff went on to say that intercultural competencies are grounded in the relations that we build between ourselves and others. These relations encourage students to grow as they learn from others' experiences. 

A few projects implemented by international organizations encourage the development of intercultural competencies. The first is OECD's Future of Education and Skills 2030 project focuses on wellbeing and student and teacher agency, and its Program for International Student Assessment: Global Competence (PISA). The PISA, a global test for 15-year-olds, tests the students' ability to use reading, math, and science to solve real-life challenges. It recognizes socio-emotional skills and cognitive reasoning to measure the students' global competencies. As a result of the pandemic, the 2021 test was postponed to 2022. The third project is UNESCO's intercultural methodology of using Story Circles. Story Circles are a more intentional tool to develop intercultural competencies as they encourage participants to interact and share personal experiences.

Student and Teacher Agency

Dr. Paine introduced the importance of students' agency and discussed students' individual strengths and ability to overcome adversity. She said, "if we think about transforming education, we have to start with the student, with the learner at the center." She talked about education's traditional focus on external goals instead of identifying the unique strengths that students bring. This approach is especially antique in the contemporary challenges brought forward by the global pandemic. Students confronted various issues over the past year and a half that shaped their experience with both remote learning and the return to remote learning and returning. It is key to consider a students' journey and the critical importance of adapting assessments to include rather than exclude individuals. 

As the education system recognizes the importance of recognizing students' agency in their learning, teachers have a greater call to act on their agency. Dr. Paine and Dr. Dias discussed the importance of teachers recognizing their need to be continuous learners to challenge students to build solutions. Dr. Dias also talked about the role of teachers in giving their students a perspective of their values and place in society. She emphasized that they need to feel that they are agents in their education. 

Dr. Paine concluded the session by noting that students are more successful when they have a voice in their learning. Teachers should build these opportunities in their classrooms to encourage their students to thrive.

Moderator: Tony Devine, Vice President of Education, Global Peace Foundation


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