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Aurora Institute

Derek Wenmoth on the Development of Global Competencies

Education Domain Blog

Authors: Derek Wenmoth

Issues: Issues in Practice, Lead Change and Innovation, Rethink Instruction, Learn Lessons from the Field, Engage Community


This ability to connect people from quite different contexts, different cultures, and different socio-political belief systems creates an exciting new way of developing levels of understanding and behaviors that may be described as Global Competence.


This post was originally published on Derek’s Blog on July 4, 2020.


A new generation of students requires different skills from the generations that came before. The world is changing fast. Boundaries—literal as well as figurative— are shifting and even disappearing altogether. The culture that once lived halfway around the world now lives just down the block. The ability to thrive in this new and rapidly changing environment is grounded in a globally focused curriculum.

-Asia Society – Five Reasons Why Global Competence Matters

The quote above is from the Asia Society Global Competence website and is one of the five reasons they provide as to why global competencies matter. The significance of this came to mind this morning as I was speaking with a group of principals and teachers from NW Arkansas. This is a conversation I’ve been a part of with them on a regular basis for some months now – the power of which is the deep sharing among and between the teachers in different parts of the state, and with one of the members in another state – plus me from New Zealand.

The benefit for each of us in having the opportunity to speak in person, in real-time, with others in a completely different context, cannot be underestimated. The impact of what we hear and the depth of understanding that develops as we question each other and learn about each others’ context is very powerful – and certainly adds a richness, depth, and clarity beyond anything we can gain from reading newspaper reports or TV articles.

In our most recent discussions, we were sharing about the ways in which teachers and learners have been learning to use communications potential of the internet during the COVID-19 lockdown period – and how the value and potential of using these online tools and environments made it so much easier to traverse the limitations of place and time that we experience in the regular classroom. So now it is entirely possible and reasonable to expect that our learners might communicate directly with someone living in Hong Kong, for example, to understand in more profound ways just what the situation is like there for school-aged young people while there is so much civil unrest as portrayed on our media here.

This ability to connect people from quite different contexts, different cultures, and different socio-political belief systems creates an exciting new way of developing levels of understanding and behaviors that may be described as Global Competence.

Global competence is the capacity to examine local, global and intercultural issues, to understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others, to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with people from different cultures, and to act for collective well-being and sustainable development.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – PISA 2018 Global Competence

Andreas Schleicher, Director of the Directorate for Education and Skills for the OECD, unpacks the four dimensions of the Global Competence framework in more detail in an article on educating our youth to care about each other and the world. In summary, he suggests that globally competent learners will have the skills and knowledge to:

  • Investigate the World – Globally competent students are aware, curious, and interested in learning about the world and how it works.
  • Recognize Perspectives – Globally competent students recognize that they have a particular perspective and that others may or may not share it.
  • Communicate Ideas – Globally competent students can effectively communicate, verbally and non-verbally, with diverse audiences.
  • Take Action – Globally competent students have the skills and knowledge to not just learn about the world, but also to make a difference in the world.

As we look to return to our face to face contexts for teaching and learning, perhaps this is one of the more important lessons we may take with us from the lockdown experience – the opportunities afforded by online technologies to create links and relationships with others that traverse the boundaries of time and space of our traditional face to face environments. Perhaps there are some ways that you could consider, in your teaching context, how you could bring such experiences to the fore of your teaching, to activate a level of interest in and relationship with others at a global scale – and so see your students develop as globally competent young people, capable of demonstrating the skills and understandings outlined above – remembering that this is not simply a cognitive exercise but involves taking action as a responsible global citizen.

So, as we look to return to the “normal” routines of our teaching and learning context, perhaps the following questions might be useful as we plan our programs.

  • What are some of the global issues that concern you, your students, and your community most? How are you currently engaging with these? Where does your information come from? What level of critical consideration are you giving to whether these sources represent the ‘truth’?
  • What global connections do you have? How might you build more? How might you find ways to bring these into the classroom to benefit your learners? How might these perspectives positively influence the learning experiences you are designing for them?
  • Do you create space in your programs for critical debate about global issues, and the opportunity to examine issues from the perspective of others? What specific teaching and/or skills are required for your learners to be able to participate effectively at this level?
  • Beyond simply using these connections to develop greater levels of global awareness and empathetic connections, what sorts of action might you consider appropriate for your students to become involved in carrying out? How can you make this more authentic and a part of their genuine and empathetic concern for the plight of others and the global concerns that impact their lives on a daily basis?

Derek Wenmoth is regarded as one of education’s foremost future-focused thinkers. He works extensively with schools and systems in New Zealand (NZ) and elsewhere as they seek to prepare students for their future. He also consults with policymakers and government agencies regarding the future directions of NZ educational policy and practice. He is currently running FutureMakers, and educational consultancy focused on making our education system more future-focused by inspiring the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and problem-solvers.