Global Education Benchmark Group – Connecting and Collaborating
In an increasingly global society and economy, it is important that today’s students develop cultural awareness and a commitment to internationalism. Organisations such as The Global Education Benchmark Group offer opportunities for teachers to hear about initiatives around the globe and exchange practical ideas aimed at broadening students’ horizons. Cyrus Carter reports on their most recent conference.
The Global Education Benchmark Group of Schools (GEBG) “was founded in 2008 to collect data to assess outcomes and practices in order to create nationwide standards for global education, both on and off campus” (www.gebg.org) . Comprising primarily US-based Pre-K to Grade 12 institutions, the GEBG is working to develop overseas partnerships, both curricular and co-curricular to broaden the horizons of their students.
Among the featured speakers were Loung Ung, author of “First They Killed My Father”, who recounted her own horrific experience in the Killing Fields in Cambodia and who is working towards eradicating landmines and educating women in LEDCs.
Also speaking were Bunker Roy and Meagan Carnahan Fallone who have been instrumental in developing the Barefoot College in India. Their approach follows Mahatma Gandhi’s precept to “live simply so others can simply live”. Noting that of the 900 million illiterate people in the world, 700 million are women, they target women’s education saying that 3.5 billion others can thus be affected through their children and extended families. Barefoot College trains women to become professionals, defined as “a person who has a combination of competence, confidence and belief”, profoundly refreshing in its simplicity. Women professionals earn to create the solar panels that run the campus and then sell to others their creations. “We need to allow those in poverty to use their knowledge, skills and wisdom”, Bunker Roy says.
The most important aspect of the conference is the sharing of ideas by classroom practitioners. Among those presenting were Clare Sisisky of Collegiate, discussing ways to benefit from lasting partner school relationships, and Henry Wend from University School of Milwaukee who gave superb ideas on using gamification to build a global curriculum. These presentations among others gave ideas that could be used immediately upon return to the classroom in the new week.
One important track of presentations focused on Risk Management. Among the presenters was a representative of Lodestone International Safety who, in spite of being from a commercial operation, generously shared usable ideas and a template for organizing a school’s risk management plan. Among the take-aways was the concept that “since most lawsuits are brought in civil law because of ‘negligence’, the first rule is to be safe”.
An Opportunity for Schools
The GEBG and the annual conference are excellent venues for sharing and collaborating; each works towards developing meaningful benchmarks and solid partnerships with schools in the US and abroad. Overseas national schools with strong academic credentials, a solid co-curricular program and an international outlook would do well to explore looking into GEBG’s program with an eye towards attending their 4th Annual Conference in New Orleans in 2016.
Cyrus teaches English at Robert College, Istanbul.