Global Perspective: Why This Educational Buzzword Matters

Sarah Mead

Sarah Mead

Today it’s never been so easy for people from different cultures to communicate and collaborate. Messages can be sent anywhere around the globe in seconds instead of days and online translation tools demolish language barriers.

Many schools today talk about helping students develop a global perspective, but they rarely talk about why it is so important. The truth is, students with the ability to think globally will be at an advantage when they enter the workplace.

Companies want employees who have a global perspective.

According to the Harvard Business Review, people who can work in a global workforce and lead a diverse team will be in higher demand as more and more companies form teams stretching across different continents. Forbes reports that more and more workplaces are striving to create inclusive workplaces, as diversity has been proven to increase innovative thinking. The Guardian revealed that employers consider international familiarity even more desirable than high grades.

Our goal at Whitby is to give students the skills to solve problems, think critically, and find ways to build collaboration at a local and global level. This is a critical part of our involvement with the International Baccalaureate program, whose mission is to develop students who are citizens of the world.

Here’s how we recommend helping students develop the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly global world:

1. Start teaching about the world at a young age

Elementary and middle school students may not yet understand the larger geopolitical realities, the complex economic formulas or the diverse philosophies at work in the world today, but there’s still a lot they can learn about other cultures.

Becky Mladic-Morales, author of the Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners, recommends using fiction and nonfiction books to transport students to different countries and cultures. Then follow up with activities like comparing similar legends from different cultures, learning about the story’s location on a map, or even taking part in a virtual book club with students in other countries.

2. Take advantage of local opportunities to meet people from other cultures

When students learn about life in other countries from a book, it feels very abstract and distant. At Whitby, however, we watch our students develop a global perspective by talking with their classmates and teachers —who hail from more than 40 countries and speak 15 languages. Instead of trying to imagine ambiguous traditions or cultures, our students can turn to a person they see everyday and ask, “What is life really like in _____?”

3. Encourage learning a second (or third) language

Language training starts with basic speaking, writing, and reading, but soon increases to more complex linguistic tasks such as reading literature. As a result, it’s a great way to help kids learn about new cultures and develop a global perspective. When kids are challenged to learn another language, they experience how a foreign language requires them to think in a new way. As a result, it drives home the point that people have different ways of thinking in other places around the world. And the earlier they start learning, the better.

4. Dare to talk about the big issues and challenge values or ideas

Learning about favorite foods, music or entertainment is fun, but a global perspective also means learning how to navigate situations where people of different cultures don’t always see eye-to-eye. Instead of shying away from controversial issues, engage in moderated discussions. Then you can help students develop their questioning skills, learn how to separate fact from opinion, practice looking at issues from different perspectives, and figure out ways to seek common ground.

The world is becoming smaller every day as technology makes it easier to collaborate across time zones.

That’s why “a global perspective” is an essential life skill and not just an educational buzzword. The more exposure kids have to different cultures and different ways of thinking at a young age, the more prepared they will be to succeed in an international workplace.


Sarah Mead

Sarah Mead

Sarah Mead is the Director of Marketing & Communications for Whitby School. Sarah's mind is a stirring pot of thoughts and ideas on content marketing, blogging, photography, videography, storytelling, social media, and website optimization. Working at Whitby has inspired her to reeducate the world about education, and to spread the passion, wisdom and expertise of the school’s talented faculty and staff.