14 Nov The gift of global mindedness
Reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic used to be referred to as the ‘three R’s’ and they were seen as the fundamentals of a good education. But we know it takes more than reading, writing and mathematics to raise a balanced child fully equipped for life in the twenty-first century. Nowadays, even if we add science, the arts and even a few languages into the mix, the combination simply isn’t enough to prepare a child to thrive in the modern world.
"In this extraordinary international community young people... can discover their humanity – a humanity which transcends the destructive patterns which prevail in the world."
We don’t need to spend much time in front of the television or online to realise that our children inherit a broken and divided world. Party political gain, self-interest and personal greed trump global priorities every time. In generations past, most global problems were those of nation-states in conflict. In this generation, we face terrifying ogres of rampant fundamentalism and the prospect of environmental catastrophe.
Developing a world perspective
At Woodstock we want our students to develop a ‘world perspective’ – critical but not purely cerebral, rooted in clear values but with a disposition to act in support of the good – nurturing young idealists excited by the possibility of change and motivated to act through personal example and courageous leadership.
Words on the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington DC have been engraved in my memory since my visit there some years ago:
“If we are to have peace on earth our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our class and our nation. And this means we must develop a world perspective.”
In this extraordinary international community young people discover who others are – others from different circumstances and different contexts. And in so doing, they discover themselves. Most profoundly, they can discover their humanity – a humanity which transcends the destructive patterns which prevail in the world. They have the opportunity to learn from others but also to see their own culture for what it is – for it is only when we are among those who are different from us that we see ourselves (our own values, beliefs and assumptions) for what they are.
"Global mindedness is not text-book knowledge or a mere statement – it is, fundamentally, an insight which springs from living and working together with others different from ourselves."
From the conversations and friendships which emerge, they have an opportunity to forge the ‘ecumenical loyalties’ which Dr Martin Luther King described – to recognise a common humanity which transcends the differences from which world problems are often experienced today. This is the global understanding which can be one of Woodstock’s greatest gifts to its students.
Global mindedness is not text-book knowledge or a mere statement – it is, fundamentally, an insight which springs from living and working together with others different from ourselves. This insight brings with it a capacity for discernment and an ability to see things beyond the fragmented divisions of the world today. It enables young people to choose wisely, to find new ways of thinking about old problems and to develop a profound sense of self.
“Make a career of humanity,” said Dr Martin Luther King, “and you will make a greater person of yourself and a finer world to live in.”
Dr Jonathan Long, Principal