Raising Global Children
Raising Global Children
By Stacie Nevadomski Berdan and Marshall S. Berdan
Published by American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages( ACTFL). November 2013: 240 pp.
Preparing American students for a global economy has been a buzzword for more years than I can remember, surfacing as a political campaign theme and finding its way onto school web sites as a familiar meme.
Yet, the reality is that despite the elementary schools that, admirably, offer authentic dual-language tracks or immersion in another culture with enrichment activities, the fact remains that most American students are pitifully prepared to compete in a global marketplace.
College is simply too late. All the study abroad and exchange programs can’t make up for the reality that students around the world are taught, not only one or two additional languages, from the earliest grades, but are also “equipped with what academics and business leaders have come to call a global mindset: the ability to operate comfortably across borders, cultures, and languages,” as the authors of this timely book suggest.
Stacie Nevadomski Berdan works in the international careers field, counseling companies on global issues and speaking with college students about the field; Marshall S. Berdan is a former high school English teacher and business journalist who is now a freelance travel writer. Practicing what they preach, the couple has traveled extensively with their twin daughters and made sure that their education—inside, and outside, the classroom—encompasses a variety of multi-cultural experiences.
The authors are quick to point out that raising a globally-prepared child doesn’t require unlimited disposable income, nor is it the province of the economically and socially elite. As they write, “Given the great cultural diversity that can be found here in the United States, it’s not absolutely necessary to go overseas to have an authentic global experience.”
Based on surveying about 1,000 professionals who’ve attained success in the global marketplaces, there are some strategies that can be adopted by anyone.
These include studying at least a second language from elementary school; travel within the United States, as well as outside its borders; discuss current world events at the family dinner table; host foreign exchange students; attend cultural events, like music, dance, film and art exhibits, that feature other cultures, and even eat at ethnic restaurants.
What matters more than acquiring specific language skills (although they are undeniably important), is encouraging a mind set in your children that celebrates diversity and difference, cultivating their sense of curiosity, and developing their confidence and independence that truly allows them to move out into a world that extends well beyond our own borders.
Although the target audience for this book is parents, classroom teachers could certainly apply some of the suggestions to enrich their environment. It’s clear that the responsibility for preparing children for the world they’ll compete in as adults belongs to all of us.
As the authors urge persuasively,“ Exposing children to a wide variety of cultural experiences will help them become more aware of the world beyond our borders, minimize the fear of the unknown, and encourage them to think critically about global issues.” #