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Disrupting the World: The Movement for Global Competence

Our annual Partnership for Global Learning annual conference (PGL12) held for the first time in New York City, recently ended. This is an event I look forward to every year as it gives me the opportunity to connect with educators and others committed to global competence. The palpable energy in the room always gives me a renewed sense of the urgency of our work and many ideas for new ways to move it forward. My colleague Neelam Chowdhary, Executive Director, Global Learning Programs, closed our conference with some inspirational words that I thought were well worth sharing—may they inspire you for your work in the upcoming year.

By Neelam Chowdhary

How can I possibly capture in a few words all the wonderful things that happened during PGL12?

I started by thinking about how the sessions at the PGL conference are unlike those offered at other conferences. We don't sit through hours of discussion about accountability, testing, and teacher education—instead we spend our time learning about how technology can impact our instruction and student engagement, we talk about the role of innovation in educating today's global citizen, and we network and learn from our colleagues who are all dedicated to making schools better.

Advocating for international education is really a reform movement. Each time you consider integrating experiences to support students to investigate the world, recognize perspectives, communicate ideas, and take action; you are basically saying that you are not ready to accept the way things are now, and you want things different. Essentially you are disrupting the status quo. And that is what makes this conference so powerful.

When I started thinking about all of this, I began to analyze the word disrupt. It is a fascinating word, because by definition it means to interrupt the normal course of unity, which at first may seem unpleasant, difficult, and to some a waste of time. But when one begins to think about what results from disrupting something, the word begins to take on a very different meaning. Disruption evokes passion, pain, creativity, innovation, and most importantly, CHANGE.

And that's exactly what we did here at the conference.

I look out into this room and see the faces of so many educators that have dedicated their lives to disrupting what may be deemed as normal or customary. For you, there is no other alternative. Supporting students to learn about the world and their place in a growing global economy is not a choice, it's what gets you up in the morning, and this week, I observed many examples of how you continue to interrupt the normal course of unity:

  • You were taking risks, to evoke your passion as educators, and disrupting the normal way of teaching to learn how to engage your students in more thought provoking and creative learning experiences.
  • You explored New York City and used new technology tools to learn how to support your students to Investigate the World.
  • You talked and networked with new people to Recognize Perspectives.
  • Many of you volunteered to Communicate your Ideas in authentic professional development.
  • And finally, I saw you gather ideas, take notes, and think innovatively about the different ways you can support your students to Take Action.

So think about the word disrupt, and remember that you are a part of a larger movement—one that goes beyond this conference and New York City, one that goes beyond state lines and even country borders. You are in fact part of a movement that engages so many like you around the world. Your work is important for many reasons.

But most of all, it is vital to the future of education. Global education will disrupt what we know should be something that is more than just good enough. And this important movement has already started with each of you!

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