There was a discussion at work recently about some new "global" standards that are in development. These are not for the state, but will be put out by a private educational entity. Most people seemed really excited by the discussion. Me? Not so much.
I was remembering a former co-worker talking about a book or article he had read that made the case that the human brain just doesn't have the capacity to consider global ramifications of our actions. We were hunters and gatherers---we are adapted to focusing on local concerns and issues within our own territory. Even if technology is making the world "smaller," the fact is that most of us really do stay within a very small range. This doesn't mean that it is okay to be irresponsible with resources, but the basic understanding we need to have about our actions is that they have consequences (good and/or bad). That's it.
Can we teach children to "think globally"? Not little ones. Sure, they can learn geography and sociology/cultural information. But to actually conceptualize their relevance to the world at large? Well, you probably need some well-developed frontal lobes for that...so we're talking teenagers as the first potential batch of "global thinkers." And even then, do they have enough life experiences to make those connections?
At my advanced age, and with the advantages I've had in life, I'm not sure that even I can fully display an ability to think on such a large scale. I can wrap my mind around "actions/consequences." I understand that resources are finite. I have the capacity to make good choices within the locus of control that I have (including how I spend my money). Beyond that, I don't know how much more global I can be.
I'm just having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of having these targets. Do we need standards for being a global citizen? Do we need them just for American students...or do we expect Zimbabwe, Chile, Bosnia, and everyone else to have the exact same ones, too? If I live in a jungle in the Amazon, do I really need to think globally? Or do I just need to be responsible for myself and the environment around me? If everyone did this part, wouldn't we be acting globally? And wouldn't that be more important than just thinking about it?