By Dina Brulles, PhD
Why and Why Now?
Today’s global society and economy have greatly increased mobility and therefore enhancing children’s interactions between cultures like no other time in history. Additionally, students also feel more interconnected than ever due to global digital collaborations. This all means that when you enter nearly any classroom today, you will likely see learners from multiple backgrounds, cultures, and origins. Many of these children likely speak at least one other language when returning to their homes at the end of the school day. Most research suggests the majority of individuals worldwide are at least bilingual, and a global perspective is recognized as the norm (Ansaldo et al, 2008 & De Bot, 1992). Multiculturalism and multilingualism means many students in today’s classrooms routinely drift back and forth from one language to another throughout the day resulting in different sets of habits at home, school, and in varied social situations.
As parents, advocates and educators of gifted students, we recognize that this is what today’s learners know. Today’s students were born into a world very different from our own and that of the educators who are teaching our children. We (adults) have wrestled with accepting and learning new approaches, systems, technologies and human interactions. Yet the children in our schools today know nothing from where we evolved; they see today’s world with fresh and unbiased eyes, ears, and feelings. We (adults) must embrace collaboration by both encouraging our student’s views and experiences and learning from and accepting their experiences, as well.
Multicultural families and globally-raised students are no longer an anomaly. With this new norm based on a global perspective, educators must embrace new practices. Discord arises, however, because many of our children’s teachers speak one language and have lived in one country and one culture, which is oftentimes the dominant culture. Many adult educators continue practices that resonate with those of their upbringings.
Parents influencing schools and educators to reflect our evolving global society
Consider the incredible impact young learners will have on our world this year. Our students form and reform our society by infusing their new global perspectives. Regardless of our training and background, we, as parents and educators, can guide and support by example. This lifelong process extends far beyond acceptance. This progression relies on us encouraging appreciation for the diversity that surrounds our children in our schools and in our homes. Although continuing to grow, this perspective is not new. In 1993, Roland Case asserted in the journal Social Education that, “global education can provide a powerful focus for improving educational quality and help students cope with emerging global realities.” (Case, 1993)
A recent example of this global reality is when I provided a tour to Aakash, a visiting doctoral student from Purdue University. While visiting a Grade 1 classroom in my Self-contained Gifted Program, Aakash was very excited whilst observing and talking with a number of students. The children were working on “country” projects, creating presentations that described the cultures of the people in that specific country. Students in this class represented several ethnicities and cultures. Aakash found a few students who were from India, from the same region that Aakash called home. An enjoyable sharing of stories emerged making this experience feel warm, tangible, and relatable. These are the embraceable moments that grow our global perspectives locally, regardless of where we reside.
We are witnessing steadily growing attention toward diversity throughout our global society. This attention has brought renewed acceptance and respect for diversity in our schools. Our schools must be seen as the impetus for a changing world that embraces a global perspective and envisions compassion and enlightenment. We must encourage schools to celebrate the broad range of languages and cultures that exist within our schools and enrich the lives of our learners. After all, it remains our priority to teach and guide our learners/children in a way that will ultimately shape our global landscape. To learn how diversity, multiculturalism, and multilingualism is embraced by Paradise Valley School District, listen to the 2016 podcast on National Public Radio (NPR): The Rare District That Recognizes Gifted Latino Studentand Gifted, But Still Learning English, Many Bright Students Get Overlooked.
About Dina Brulles
Dina Brulles, Ph.D., is the Director of Gifted Education at Paradise Valley Unified School District where she has developed a continuum of gifted education programs, preschool through high school. The programs and services Dina oversees incorporate innovative uses of technology, enfranchise underrepresented populations and provide extensive professional development opportunities. She is also the Gifted Program Coordinator at Arizona State University.
Dina currently serves on the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Board of Directors as the School District Representative. She has also served as president of the Arizona Association for the Gifted and Talented, vice president of SENG, and on leadership teams of NAGC Networks. Dina received the inaugural 2014 NAGC Gifted Coordinator Award and also the first NAGC Professional Development Network Award in 2013.
Dina co-authored the books, The Cluster Grouping Handbook: How To Challenge Gifted Students and Improve Achievement For All, Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classrooms, and A Teachers Guide to Flexible Grouping and Collaborative Learning, along with other publications and teacher training courses. Dina assists school districts in developing, supporting, and evaluating gifted programs with an emphasis on integrating current educational initiatives. Having implemented and supervised the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model, she has become a recognized expert in that practice.
ReferencesCase, Roland, Key Elements of a Global Perspective, Social Education, v57 n6 p318-25, Oct 1993
Frazier, A. D. & Castellano, J. A. (2010). Special populations in gifted education: Understanding our most able students from diverse backgrounds. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press. ISBN: 9781593634179
Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), www.sengifted.org
National Public Radio (NPR), The Rare District That Recognizes Gifted Latino Studentshttps://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/03/31/472528190/the-rare-district-that-recognizes-gifted-latino-students, April, 2016
National Public Radio (NPR), Gifted, But Still Learning English, Many Bright Students Get Overlooked https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/04/11/467653193/gifted-but-still-learning-english-overlooked-underserved, April, 2016