Across the globe:
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Storelli - The Global Girl: What Skills Does She Need?

Rosa Storelli, Australia

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ms Rosa Storelli is Principal of Methodist Ladies’ College, in Melbourne, Australia. Her postal address is: MLC, 207 Barkers Rd, Kew, Victoria 3101, Australia.

Last July I attended the International Confederation of Principals Conference in Helsinki, Finland, along with nine hundred principals from over forty-five countries. One afternoon, while walking through the spectacular Finnish forest, I encountered a young student who spoke six languages and asked her, ‘What skills does the global girl need?’

She puzzled over the question and quickly replied, ‘While l can speak six languages, this is actually the easy part. The more difficult challenge for me, and for others, is the capacity to understand the cultures of others, and only through this can international progress be made throughout the world’. As educators, how do we ensure that our young people have the global knowledge and skills to contribute to world peace and cultural understanding?

Promoting a Global Perspective
The theme of the International Confederation of Principals’ Conference was ‘Knowledge, Hope and Humanity’. Issues of internationalism, inter-cultural learning and understanding, and global citizenship were explored. It became clear that as educators, we must be concerned with issues far wider than the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies. We must also be concerned with promoting open-mindedness towards the wider world, good understanding of other people and encouraging behaviours which develop harmonious social relations.

Some common thoughts emerged - that our students need to establish an appropriate mind-set; that they need the ability to work in groups and to develop team spirit; that they need personal discipline and a sense of responsibility towards their community (or communities). They must have a willingness to take risks, and develop initiative, curiosity and creativity in living in their communities. There must be continued emphasis upon the need to promote critical thinking skills, to be discerning about the available information, and the need to make ethical decisions.

Respecting Human Diversity
Our young people need to respect the diversity of all humans. Especially, they must learn to resolve differences through dialogue, and not violence. By providing international components in curriculums, schools can have a pivotal role in socialising students into the world community. Students need real role models and real involvement with multicultural and global perspectives.

I am also reminded of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century report to UNESCO, ‘Learning to Live Together, Learning to Live with Others’. This Report states that the task of education is to teach the diversity of the human race and an awareness of the similarities between - and interdependence of – all humans.

Again, I am convinced of the importance of acquiring language skills, together with cultural understanding and the development of an appropriate attitude. In working as assistants during the ICP Conference, the Finnish youth I met showed a great pride in being a citizen of their own country. We also must develop a pride in our national heritage.

Real Motivation Comes From Within
Throughout the ICP Conference, I often thought of our young Australian women - many of whom will contribute in their own way to international peace and understanding. It is vital that our students learn to be aware, to be understanding and open to differences, and are motivated to learn about our world. Real motivation must come from within. There cannot be anything we need more in this world than the ability to see clearly what is happening around us.

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