Honored as one among 24 others who are making positive changes within their communities by Barret Honors at ASU, Suzanne Vogt is one of New Global Citizens Teacher Advisors who have contributed their energy towards making our Co-Curricular Program a success.
How have you been shaped from teaching?
I love teaching global issues because it brings relevancy into my course, and students feel more empowered to engage in real life conversations in which other adults or near-adults are participating. Maturing my students through exposure to real-world global issues and their role in addressing those is a true hallmark of civic duty stressed in my social studies courses.
If teachers cannot adopt the Co-Curricular program in their classrooms, how do you suggest they begin to introduce the idea of global issues to their students?
There are multiple opportunities for teachers to teach global issues in the classroom. It may be through introductory/bell work activities as they relate to the content they teach or it may be a research project that takes topical course content and has students study the impact of those topics on the present day political, economic, social, or environmental issues that face various nations throughout the world. It is our job as educators to relate our content to present day events or students may not see the full extent to which classroom lessons relate to their lives. I assign current event reports on a bi-weekly basis. This simple assignment promotes student-led research, reading comprehension skills, and practice in writing summaries and analysis. The connections are always there; teachers just have to make them accessible for their students through crafty lesson planning.
What’s the biggest struggle you see when introducing or teaching certain issues? How do you see students overcome this struggle, and what, as a teacher, can you do to alleviate the struggle?
The biggest issue I see with students is a lack of knowledge about current issues in other countries, let alone the United States. This gap is not always attributed to apathy about the plight of others, but is often a developmental reality – my students are teenagers and the world directly in front of them is much more entertaining than seeking out information on something or someone they know little about. With instant access to technology it is tragic that many students do not access the news past entertainment or national disasters/crises as a point of curiosity or interest.
Students can overcome this deficiency in global awareness by personally taking accountability to read the news daily and ask teachers, parents, and other support systems in their lives about the circumstances leading to the issues that impact different communities throughout the world. This prompting may not be intrinsic in students, but with school assignments that are engaging and teachers who stress the necessary 21st-century skills throughout their curriculum disengage or uninformed American youth will have more opportunities to participate in scholarly work or career choices that exposes them to the aspects of global citizenry.
It is a teacher’s professional responsibility to stay abreast of current events and transmit non-biased, objective information to students as often as possible and relate it to their subject matter when applicable. Of course some subjects naturally lend themselves to this type of integration. For many students their knowledge of world issues will occur inside school walls due to differing home and family structures that may not include “dinner table conversation” on current events as mine did. Because of this, informed and motivating teachers are the key to “socializing” students to global issues and their ability to become positively involved through advocacy or direct action.
What have you learned from the students?
I have learned from my students that they know less than they think they know about global issues. This does not mean that the students are ignorant or display apathy, but they have not had the exposure yet in their lives. Once they learn, though, they are often hooked and want to know more about what they can do at their age and with their resources. The students often take on leadership roles and develop more formal communication skills as they learn how to support and promote education about an issue they feel strongly about.
What changes have you seen in your students? Have you seen such change start to develop across campus?
NGC does not have a club or prescribed course presence on my campus, but in my own practice I have seen students’ interest pique during conversations about the reality of global issues in the PRESENT DAY instead of in a historical context. These topics have generated original thought and epiphanies on the part of my students during discussions. I am constantly impressed by their sensitivity and empathy towards those who are less fortunate seeing as most of my students receive some type of government assistance within their family. Although not all students are moved to action, they do recognize that their awareness does not allow them to “ignore” the issues knowing that we are interconnected in a global economy, political structure, or just as human beings.
(I know that sounds peachy, but they’re teenagers, and that is seriously an accomplishment to get them to think about someone other than themselves)
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