Exploring Globalization Opportunities and Challenges in Social Studies: Effective Instructional Approaches
reviewed by Alexander Cuenca - September 26, 2014
Title: Exploring Globalization Opportunities and Challenges in Social Studies: Effective Instructional Approaches
Author(s): Lydiah Nganga, John Kambutu, & William B. Russell III (Eds.)
Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing, New York
ISBN: 143312128X, Pages: 267, Year: 2013
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In the last century, the convergence of economic ambition, new technologies, and enhanced communication capabilities has led to an increasingly interconnected global society. Because the priorities of schools in the United States are often a reflection of the contemporary needs and wants of society, calls to develop globally competitive students echo across contemporary education policy mandates. While these policies rightly identify new political and economic realities across the world, the proffered solutionsoften more rigorous doses of math or scienceinvariably fail to develop a global consciousness. Often missing in these policy conversations is the place of social studies education: a curricular space that can cultivate the needed knowledge and skills to navigate the continually evolving global arena.
Collectively, the authors in Exploring Globalization Opportunities and Challenges in Social Studies argue that the social studies education curriculum ought to facilitate the turn toward a more globally aware and responsive citizenry. Edited by Lydiah Nganga, John Kambutu, and William B. Russell III, the volume features scholars grappling with significant conceptual, practical, and pedagogical issues in global education. Twenty-one chapters are divided into two sections. The first section, Global Issues, Trends, Policies, Practices, and Implications addresses topics such as the history of globalization, teacher acculturation, the promotion of neoliberalism in the social studies curriculum, immigration and economic globalization, and the preparation of teachers for global citizenship. The second section, Global Issues and Innovative Instructional Practices for Teaching Global Education, focuses on instructional strategies that help illuminate specific global issues, such as the use of film to develop the character of global citizens, blogs as a tool to develop global literacy, storytelling to understand global values, and the teaching of current events from a global perspective.
The twenty-one chapters reveal the contours of global education across different educational settings and contexts: the collection offers readers rich descriptions of global education perspectives, situations, and pedagogical activities for higher education, teacher education, and P-12 classrooms. This situational diversity assures that readers from varied educational positions can find relevance in the volume. However, as with many edited books, the panoply of voices and perspectives results in unresolved tensions.
One such tension is the conceptual incompatibility of the chapters within the first section of the book. Chapters in the first section deal with a potpourri of issues related to globalization and global education: some chapters address broad aspects associated with globalization such as immigration patterns, neoliberalism, and the economic consequences of a compressed global workforce; others describe programs, pedagogies, and rationales for global education. Therefore, it is difficult to find a consistent message that coheres the chapters in this section. While there are many strong individual contributions in this section, those looking for an introduction to the idea of global education or globalization will find isolated chapters dealing with important, but disjointed, commentaries.
Another unresolved tension exists between the constructs of globalization and global education. The first section in the book mostly discusses issues regarding globalization, while the second section explores global education. Unfortunately, the reciprocal relationship between these two constructs is never deeply explored. A more careful approach to acknowledging the contingent relationship between globalization and global education would have provided more clarity, and benefitted the conceptual and practical reader.
Notwithstanding some of the overall tensions that delimit the uniform utility of the volume, many chapters elucidate relevant issues. For example, Paul G. Fitchett (Chapter Three) and Lydiah Ngana and Keonghee Tao Han (Chapter Four) make forceful arguments for the deconstruction of the neoliberal and economic façade that globalization has constructed about immigrants and immigration. Likewise, Antonio J. Castro and Rebecca Aguayo (Chapter Eight) nicely weave the awareness and activist threads in this book together by calling for social studies teachers to enact lessons that help students critique Western influences on genocides in Darfur and Rwanda.
The pedagogically focused chapters in the second section also contain a number of important contributions. Joseph OBrien and Jason Endacott (Chapter Thirteen) outline an inquiry approach that can help teachers utilize historical empathy in ways that globalize aspects of the U.S. history curriculum. Jason Harshman (Chapter Fourteen) provides lesson ideas that demonstrate a critical approach to teaching about the physical, cultural, and human geography of Turkey and China. Emma K. Humphries and Elizabeth Yeager Washington (Chapter Twelve) nimbly unpack common definitions of citizenship and share a five-step lesson plan that can help students rewrite those common definitions for citizenship in a globalized society. Finally, for teachers who find standardization and the pressures of high-stakes testing as an obstacle to global education, Mirynne Igualada and Dilys Schoorman (Chapter Eleven) share three global education lessons that can be used in multiple grades, to address common state standards and facilitate global awareness and criticality.
Overall, this volume is perhaps most useful for social studies teacher educators interested in advancing global education as a rationale for social studies teaching. While the book as a whole is fragmented, the writing within each chapter nicely situates the ideas of globalization and global education; the collection is a good tool for methods courses or professional development. The lesson ideas, strategies, and activities can easily be used as models for social studies pre-service and in-service teachers. Moreover, the inclusion of chapters on the preparation of social studies teachers for global educationone each by Lydia Nganga (Chapter Nineteen) and Toni Fuss Kirkwood-Tucker (Chapter Twenty)adds significant value for the teacher education practitioner. Altogether, the voices, perspectives, and ideas of the authors in this book add an important global dimension to the ongoing discussion of what social studies ought to be.