The Brazilian lyricist and writer Paulo Coelho once said, “Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first, they have to understand that their neighbor is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.”
Right now in this unprecedented time in our global history, we may understand each other better than ever. Never have we seen cultures identify more closely than during this pandemic, and for students who have enjoyed opportunities for learning more globally, they are enabled with a better understanding of the problems and the solutions.
Lauren Barack of Education Dive writes: “The world’s economy is deeply intertwined, and technology continues to evaporate borders. As a result, today’s students will work and engage with people from many countries. Fluency, and comfort, with multiple cultures, traditions and languages are growing more important for their future success.”
Teaching and learning at The Lexington School is all about preparing young ones for their futures, and that means in age-appropriate ways, providing them with ample opportunities across every grade level and every teaching subject (even the Dining Room) to facilitate comfort and understanding of the world, a global mindset.
Starting even with our tiniest Acorns who see and hear the stories as their teachers turn the pages of how children in countries all over the world go to school (think snow sleds in Switzerland and the subway in New York). Prekindergarteners grab their passports and work their way around the world, practicing those essential preschool skills while learning about language, food, and festivities of so many different places. In Montessori, no matter the time of day or year, the children will teach you something they just learned about a country they probably never visited. They are excited about the world, curious about cultures so different yet so alike.
ASIDE: This blog article began just prior to the school closing to help curb the COVID-19 virus. Little did we know our students every day would be using the technology that connects the world remotely: Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, etc. How and what TLS students are learning right now in their remote learning environments will be coming soon. For now, enjoy a glimpse of the curious (global) Montessori mind. [VIDEO]
In lower and middle school divisions, each day the topics turn appropriately global in literature, science, art, math, language, or health. Whether it is environmental debates, a novel in English with cultural themes, an essay on the global historical implications of the American Revolution, these everyday discussions keep the world close.
As a K-8 school, we have an age/stage of children who are open to and enjoy the immense benefits of interdisciplinary learning. It is during these deep dives when all the academic subjects mesh with mission skills resulting in mind connections, fun celebrations…powerful moments.
A couple of examples:
The Fourth Grade Heritage Day Project webpage tells the complete story of how Language Arts, Social Studies, Art, Music, Health, and P.E. (and dining) come together in an interdisciplinary deep study of ancestry, heritage, and immigration. [VIDEO]
Example B: 8th Grade World Language Fair
Eighth-grade leaders, in teams of two or three, research various countries from all over the world and engage every grade level of younger students in teaching and learning. Through traditional dress, historical facts, food, images, and games, the younger students get a taste of the world while the older students teach to learn themselves.
Isaac Ammerman, eighth-grader, said of the project, “We did a lot of research. Time management had a big role because we had to get a lot done in a very short period of time!” Joe Conley, Spanish teacher elaborated: “Everyone benefits from a project like this. The whole school learns something interesting about somewhere else in the world, the younger and older kids interact in a really positive way, and even better–the 8th graders, for one day, learn what it’s like to teach ALL DAY LONG! They develop big-time empathy for us teachers!”
And more. They develop empathy, comfort, and understanding of the world that transcends a textbook. It is an understanding that we are connected, connected by common experiences even if our clothes and foods and languages are different. Today, we are connected by something large and significant in the form of a virus. A global mindset is more important now than ever.
Examples C, D, E, F…are ongoing and for now ONLINE.