(Source: The Bridge, Spring 2019)
At the Academy of the Sacred Heart, our founding story connects us with the values of internationality and global citizenship. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat founded the Society of the Sacred Heart in France during the 1800s with a vision for its internationality when she sent St. Philippine Duchesne to America in 1818. That vision for a vast community of people of faith in action has both endured and prospered, with over 150 national and international schools across the globe.
The mission of global education at Sacred Heart is to form students who are aware of their moral and ethical responsibilities in a globalized world and who respond with judicious social action—now and for a lifetime. Global education serves as a pathway on which students come to discover and understand the world, its historical roots and current issues: political, social, cultural, environmental, spiritual, and economic. Global education develops capacities for critical thinking, expression of ideas, reverence of differences, and a consciousness of the interconnectedness of people and their integral relationship to the natural environment.
START LOCAL TO THINK GLOBAL.
Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Amanda Collongues, who attended the Global Education Benchmark Group conference last summer, explains, “A globally competent student is someone who can think in deep ways, see perspectives of others, and work collaboratively.” Mrs. Collongues describes global competencies as outcomes that students work towards throughout their educational journey. To reach these outcomes, teachers at Sacred Heart are carefully designing lessons and units.
“Global competence is something you have to think of as long term,” Mrs. Collongues adds. “They are not skills that you can cross off of a list. They are larger ideas, such as understanding, empathy, and problem solving, that you can apply to lots of different scenarios beginning in the classroom and expanding to the wider community. How you reach each competency looks different at different grade levels.”
This year, the Lower School has begun adopting ways to integrate the Asia Society Framework for Global Competence to embed into their curriculum. This framework breaks down global competence into four domains: investigating the world, recognizing perspectives, communicating ideas, and taking action. There are skills within each domain that can be built from prekindergarten through Upper School.
“Global education is an integral part of our work at Sacred Heart,” says Mrs. Shara Hammet, Lower School Division Head. “Using this systematic and purposeful framework allows us to be more intentional about how we’re teaching global competencies. One important way to assess global competencies is through self-reflection, which is so much a part of Sacred Heart.” For example, in kindergarten the four domains provide the student the framework to communicate her thoughts and ideas clearly, clarify her opinion, listen to other viewpoints, and collaborate with others of differing views.
Using the Asia Society’s framework, Mrs. Collongues and Lower School computer teacher Mrs. Lynette Moody, who attended the Global Education Benchmark Group conference with Mrs. Collongues, designed a global ed unit for kindergarten students to study their community and compare it to other communities. They began by examining their school community at Sacred Heart. They visited the Rosary Campus and realized what their larger school community consists of beyond the Mater Campus and kindergarten. They then discussed the culture of their local community in New Orleans. After talking about various types of transportation, students took a field trip on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar. Beyond the many sights, what was most powerful was meeting people on the streetcar—people they might not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.
COMMUNICATING ACROSS DIFFERENCES.
“Once students can establish this idea that they know a little bit about their community, then they’ll be ready to learn about another community and compare them,” Mrs. Collongues says. This unit was specifically designed for students to communicate across differences, allowing them to take on perspectives of others and to communicate their ideas.
After studying their own community in New Orleans, kindergarten students learned a little bit about the Sacred Heart community in Halifax, Canada. Students began by reading stories that take place in Halifax and looking at its location on a map. They then brainstormed questions to ask their peers at the Sacred Heart School of Halifax during a Skype session in order to learn more about their culture and community. Following the Skype session, students discussed how their New Orleans community compares to the community in Halifax and wrote a kindergarten class pattern book that describes both New Orleans and Halifax.
Awareness of their own community and culture enables students to gain awareness and appreciation of other communities and cultures. As Sacred Heart students develop a global perspective and continue to build upon these skills each year, they create connections and gain a deeper understanding of the significance of participating in national and international exchanges, service learning, and other opportunities. Our ultimate goal is to prepare students to live in a multicultural world and inspire them to be “active, informed, and responsible citizens locally, nationally, and globally.” (Goal 3, a social awareness which impels to action) Then, with a better understanding of those around them, our girls can go out into the world and truly help change it.