Fiscal realities in our schools make it difficult to add important elements in the curriculum. It is increasingly hard for small districts to hire world language teachers and extend the sequence of language learning for students. There is no way Wisconsin students can compete with peers from most advanced countries who begin their third world language in ninth grade.
Yet, students and teachers in our schools actively ask for the exciting opportunity to learn more about the world. They are hungry for those learning experiences, and they engage whenever they can. Imagine 170 students attending the 2015 Wisconsin Global Youth Summit on a cold Saturday in February. Imagine 65 of their teachers joining a full-day workshop while their students participated in exciting global learning opportunities. All of them gave up a free Saturday; all of them were engaged all day long. The teachers did not get extra pay or compensation for their time. This is the power of engaging students and teachers in global learning activities and in an exciting day of events. And this is what makes me feel a slight sense of optimism in an otherwise very challenging educational environment. This is also evidence of many teachers doing more with less.
Teaching students essential literacy and mathematical skills is absolutely necessary, and it is a bottom line requirement. That does not mean that we cannot reach higher and engage students in learning about the real world in which they live. They need authentic learning experiences, they need to understand what they are studying for. They need to understand that inquiry, curiosity and learning knows no boundaries. They need to know that solutions to problems and ways to improve living conditions are global issues. If our students do not learn about other points of view, they are not given an opportunity to think critically.
The 2015 Wisconsin Global Youth Summit was every bit as inspiring and uplifting as previous summits. The number of interested students, teachers and schools is growing rapidly.
Take a look at the schedule of events at www.globalwisconsin.org.
Yes, we can educate globally competent students who will engage in interesting careers and the construction of civil societies in the very near future. This is an exciting prospect for Wisconsin.