Raising Global IQ: Preparing Our Students for a Shrinking Planet

reviewed by Kristina R. Llewellyn - December 15, 2014

coverTitle: Raising Global IQ: Preparing Our Students for a Shrinking Planet
Author(s): Carl Hobert
Publisher: Beacon Press, Boston
ISBN: 0807032883, Pages: 232, Year: 2013
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Part of the educational mandate for the twenty-first-century is producing world citizens—students who can cultivate peace and opportunity around the globe. In an effort to refute George W. Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ ideology, Carl F. Hobert has focused on classrooms in the United States becoming an ‘axis of hope,’ where students acquire skills for international conflict management and prevention. The book, Raising Global IQ: Preparing Our Students for a Shrinking Planet, is Hobert’s “strategic planning tool” (p. xix) to improve young peoples’ global competence. Hobert draws primarily upon his personal experiences to define what he means by a global intelligence quotient (GIQ) and how it may be practiced in schools today. Over the course of ten chapters, Hobert makes the case for boosting five C’s: communication, comprehension, compromise, compassion, and creativity (p. xxviii). Hobert wants GIQ “to support foreign language study, to encourage collaboration with students in using technology in schools, to demystify the dynamics of conflict resolution, and to offer the principles of preventive diplomacy” (p. xxviii).

He starts with dedicating two chapters to foreign language acquisition. Hobert contends that if schools are serious about preparing children for economically productive and civically responsible citizenship in the world, then they must make foreign languages core subjects like English and mathematics. He persuasively argues that a tradition of American monolinguistic literacy, whether from isolationism or xenophobia, will not advance dialogue and peace. Less persuasive is his contention that the Romance languages are a natural first step for language acquisition. More problematic is the association Hobert leaves intact between learning Arabic languages and radicalism. He writes: “linguistic and cultural literacy is the best tool we have for defusing the power of ideologues and engaging other cultures, especially the Arab world, peacefully” (p. 25).

In Chapter Three, Hobert moves from linguistic literacy to media literacy. He argues that schools can harness students’ aptitude for technology, from blogging to Skype, in order to strengthen global smarts. He encourages educators to play with educational technologies in teaching young people how to analyze and evaluate information in their studies of geopolitical conflicts. Hobert acknowledges “the great divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in terms of technology” (p. 49), but implies that adults’ fear of technology is one of the greatest impediments to cultural fluency. I would contend that the deepening social inequality, and thus distribution of school resources, is a far greater impediment than adult fears. It is too idealistic in our neoliberal environment for Hobert to maintain that technology can be accessible for all by capitalizing on public-private partnerships, creative teaching strategies, and students’ natural inclinations.

Chapters Five to Nine are more concrete in their approach to how GIQ may be developed within schools. Here, Hobert delves into his experience using a preventative diplomacy case-study approach—a blueprint for conducting conflict-resolution negotiations within the classroom. The mantras he provides for students to acquire skills in preventative diplomacy include: Do the Homework; Walk in the Shoes of the Other Side; Separate the People from the Problem; Know Your BATNA – and Know Theirs (“best alternative to a negotiated agreement”); Peace is a Process, Not a Prize (pp. 86-92). Hobert illustrates these refrains in action through a role-play exercise, in which students represent stakeholders in peace talks regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The most compelling version of this exercise includes United States, Palestinian, and Israeli students engaging in dialogue via videoconferencing.

Hobert calls for his case study approach to be complemented by local and global service learning. In Chapters Eight and Nine, he argues for GIQ to be about more than facts, but rather “a moral point of view” (p. 130). Hobert describes powerful personal transformations that take place for students on service-learning journeys to the heart of the civil rights movement in Alabama and to the Home of Hope orphanage in Rwanda. Hobert demonstrates the impact of his preventative diplomacy case study and service-learning journeys by citing student feedback. According to Hobert, students describe an awakened social consciousness, a desire to seek out information about the world, and an understanding that peace requires complex solutions and long-term dialogue. While few would cast doubt on such testimonials, the book overstates the reach of these methods—namely, a “peaceful coexistence in their [students] own lives as well” (p.109). It is unclear, for example, how the Israeli-Palestinian role play translated into a “moment of transparency” (p. 111) for an eighteen-year-old boy from a Chicago inner-city school, who had been beaten by his mother’s boyfriend. Hobert writes that the boy stated he “wished he had developed these negotiation skills prior to this beating” (p. 111).

Hobert is to be applauded for his sincere efforts to restore engaged, community-based learning to what he rightfully describes as the “standardized exam-driven treadmill that typifies the curriculum” (p. 114). Furthermore, his approach to global citizenship education necessarily embraces controversial issues—a critical part of engaged, social-justice oriented learning. While I agree with the premise of this book, that it is no longer a question as to whether educators need to address global awareness, other questions remain with respect to Hobert’s approach. Where is there room for students to critically examine the role of their own country in creating global conflicts? Hobert acknowledges the history of United States’ paternalism and colonialism, noting that children have to overcome a history of “Uncle Sam and the upwardly mobile knows best” (p. 151). The pedagogical practices he describes do not, however, trouble the United States citizen as global voyeur or intellectual tourist. Hobert even uses Christopher Columbus as an exemplar for young people to acquire spirits as international explorers (p. 31). Additionally, is it possible for schools to teach global citizenship without a “wholesale renovation of our curriculum” (p. xxvii). In Chapter Ten, Hobert refers to building an architecture of support within schools, including a director of global programs. These are suggestions that are not feasible without addressing “the diverse financial and curricular issues that bedevil so many of our nation’s schools” (p. 49)—issues from which Hobert explicitly retreats. Admittedly, this is not a traditional academic book; there is neither discussion of global citizenship theories nor scholarly citations. Rather, Hobert’s intention is to write a book that is accessible and optimistic; a book that brings hope to educators for a more sustainable future.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: December 15, 2014
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17785, Date Accessed: 5/26/2022 10:48:50 AM

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