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New York City
November 2003

Global Classrooms Teach Power of Peace

by Michelle Accorso

Created in 1995, Global Classrooms’ main objective is to educate children from grades 612 about other cultures and ideas around the world. The United Nations Association of the United States (UNA/USA) spearheaded by Lucia Rodriguez and Ambassador Bill Luers has joined Model U.N. in an effort to teach students the skills and attitudes necessary for living in an increasingly diverse society.

Model United Nations is a well-known organization created to aid in teaching students about how the U.N. works through role-playing. In Model U.N., students step into the shoes of ambassadors to debate current issues on the organization’s vast agenda. The student “delegates” in Model U.N. prepare draft resolutions, plot strategy, negotiate and compromise with others, resolve conflicts, and navigate the U.N.’s rules of procedure—all in the interest of mobilizing “international cooperation” to resolve problems that affect the entire global community.

The role Global Classrooms has taken differs from Model U.N. in the sense that it teaches children how to live in a diverse, ever-changing world without role-playing. Its main focus is not to teach children how to play a political role, but instead a humanistic one, in the hopes of creating a peaceful world.

At a recent Global Classrooms National Advisory Board Meeting, plans for the future of this program were discussed in the hopes of implementing the best strategies. There are many elements that play important roles in making Global Classrooms a successful and useful tool. Willie Cade, President and CEO of PCs for Schools (www.pcforschools.org) explained how his company takes dated computers and refurbishes them for use in schools. “We’re attempting to bridge the digital divide nationally,” Cade stated, “The goal within five years is to have every child, enrolled in school in the United States, supplied with technology in the home. As of now, approximately sixty five percent of homes have computers.” Cade expressed the need to supply all families with Internet access, despite income. With donations of old computers and Cade’s company refurbishing them, the only real problem lies in the cost of shipping. The reason why technology is such an important issue is because without it kids are unable to connect with students from other countries. Furthermore, technology offers the ability for Global Classrooms to gain a larger audience.

The UNA student alliance provides four to five day teacher training for those whose students are interested in a program that supports global consciousness. Part of the training involves pre and post-tests that are to be distributed within the classroom. The tests do not count towards any grade average and the scores are kept completely anonymous. They are simply created so that Model U.N. and UNA/USA can gain a basic knowledge of how much the average student knows about global relations. Some examples of the questions asked are who is the current secretary-general of the United Nations and please circle the five permanent members of the Security Council (twenty choices are given). The test results indicated that students and teachers are frequently wrong. The conclusion is that we simply aren’t educated enough about global issues. Often, students have neglected the most fundamental knowledge of all, knowledge of the tools needed for a peaceful and secure future. As Professor Nel Noddings of Stanford University stated in a recent article titled “Children Build a Culture of Peace in a Complex World” in Education Update (September 2003, Vol. IX, #1), “I think every course should incorporate teaching peace. Before I did my graduate work in philosophy I was a math teacher and if it can be done in math, it can be done anywhere. You have to put a high priority on it.”

Fortunately, priority is exactly what UNA/USA is putting on this matter. Currently UNA/USA is in the process of revising its three to five year strategic plan. It plans to spread Global Classrooms, instituting it in twelve cities over the next three to five years. UNA/USA also hopes that the Global Classrooms program will, in essence, become “self-promoting,” growing on account of its own momentum and success.#

For a student assessment package and more information about Global Classrooms call 212-425-8833, fax 212-480-2176 or visit www.MetisAssoc.com.

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Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 1588, New York, NY 10159.
Tel: (212) 477-5600. Fax: (212) 477-5893. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2003.