Howard Blumenthal, Senior Scholar, The University of Pennsylvania

United StatesEnglish

Target Audience(s): Every teacher

Short Session Description: As I interview kids around the world, I find they lack an understanding of who they are as individuals and community members, and how their community fits into the entire world.

Full Session Description: Two years ago, I started traveling to schools throughout the world, asking kids to tell me about their lives. Through hundreds of interviews, and the good resources of one of the world's top universities, I have been studying human progress. Time and again, I find that the erosion of community (the result of progress and affluence) leaves the kids weightless, and that this lack of connection makes it exceedingly difficult for them to understand the world (global education, etc.) So: I have been studying, and speaking all over the world about, the importance of learning who you are (identity, community, belonging) as the one essential ingredient in all forms of global education. Without heritage, history, geography, biology, family, language, and other aspects of identity, it is nearly impossible for (for example) an African-American teenager to care about naming even a single country in Africa. The gap is enormous, and it seems to be far more common around the world than I would have thought--Paraguay, Brazil, Uganda, Sweden, Hong Kong, the list goes on. The world of global education is important, but the self-reflection and identity work that I am now pursing at the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the process may add a very important element to its success.


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