Global Citizenship

Robbie Devlin talks about his global citizenship project surrounding the theme of 'sectarianism'.

Primary Teacher, Alexandra Parade Primary School

My global citizenship surrounding the theme of ‘sectarianism’. The project was delivered through a novel study of ‘The Divided City’ by Theresa Breslin. This novel looks at the conflict between Rangers and Celtic supporters and key themes, such as, sectarianism, stereotyping bigotry, asylum seekers and friendship. All of which we looked at in more detail through practical classroom activities. The learning intentions for these activities focused on children being able to define and give examples of these key themes. When children had a firm knowledge of these themes we were able to look at examples of sectarianism which are found elsewhere in the world. This project culminated in the children contemplating and considering what they can do to stamp out sectarianism.

Prior to my engagement in the global citizenship project I felt I had a fair knowledge regarding my understanding of what constitutes global citizenship. During my undergraduate study I had taken part in an elective on global citizenship and enterprise. From this elective I had an understanding that global citizenship was having an understanding of Global issues, such as, access to clean water in the developing world. As well as this, the knowledge I gained from taking the elective highlighted how global citizenship is perceived as being increasingly important in education. This is shown through aspect 1.1.2 of the standard for full registration, which makes direct reference to global citizenship, and how teachers are required to have “sufficient knowledge” of this theme. Despite having some knowledge surrounding global citizenship I feel that, through my engagement in this project, I have a deeper understanding of what global citizenship is and how it can be (and should be) incorporated into classroom practice.

Firstly, I feel that the topic ideas provided by WOSDEC reaffirmed my knowledge of what global citizenship actually was and did broaden my understanding to an extent as I was unaware that topics such as ‘toys’ could be a theme within global citizenship. However, I do feel that these topic ideas were restricting as importance was placed in delivering lessons through one of these contexts. However, through professional dialogue with other colleagues I was made aware of how global citizenship can incorporate many local issues too! This was later supported by WOSDEC when they shared their ‘quadrant assessment’ tool where ‘local’ and ‘global’ were both headings.

After coming to this realization I felt I could plan for a more meaningful and purposeful project that complemented the children’s learning within the classroom and was not an ‘add on’. I feel that this was my ‘light bulb moment’ in regards to my understanding of global citizenship and from this moment on, I felt much more confident in my ability to deliver a project.

The topic I delivered as part of my global citizenship project was on sectarianism. I found that this emotive topic ‘hooked’ the children immediately as it was relevant to them – they had all experienced examples of sectarianism at one time or another and it was my aim, through the delivery of this topic, that the learning would develop informed attitudes within the children regarding ‘Sectarianism’.

I found early on that my global citizenship project on ‘Sectarianism’ was going to be extremely cross-curricular and, as such, was delivered as an interdisciplinary topic. IDL is one of the contexts for learning outlined in Curriculum for Excellence and aims to provide relevant, challenging and enjoyable experiences through a stimulating context. If global citizenship can be delivered in an interdisciplinary learning capacity then it can also achieve these aims. Because global citizenship can lend itself to a wide scope of curricular areas and experiences and outcomes, further highlights its potential in the delivery of CfE. For example, my project covered expressive arts and technologies as children acted out being news reporters reporting on sectarian conflict and video recording their performances. It covered aspects of English and Literature through discussion and the sharing of views and opinions and also covered Religious and Moral Education (RME) as we were looking at the similarities and differences between certain faiths, such as, Catholics and Protestants.

Although religious sectarianism is a local issue, the children became increasingly aware of sectarianism out with their community. Examples the children provided were conflicts between Nazi Germany and the Jewish faith, as well as, the conflict in Northern Ireland and the conflict between North and South Korea. Children were able to successfully justify why and how these examples linked to sectarianism.

I firmly believe that the learning that took place during our engagement in the global citizenship project contributed to the children becoming confident individuals, effective contributors, successful learners, and responsible citizens.

Children developed as:

  • confident individuals because they were developing their own views and beliefs and were able to communicate these
  • effective contributors as they were considering solutions as to how to prevent sectarianism.
  • successful learners as they were given the opportunity to learn independently, as part of a group and in a class context
  • responsible citizens as they were discussing and developing an awareness of complex issues.

All of the points I have discussed emphasise how global citizenship is relevant and contributes to the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence as it links to the experiences and outcomes, seven principles, and supports children in achieving the four capacities.

To conclude, I feel I have a deeper understanding of what global citizenship is and have an increased confidence in my ability to plan and deliver lessons in this area which are both relevant to the curriculum and are purposeful to the learners found in my classroom.