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Culture and Education in the New Millennium Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco and Desirée Baolian Qin-Hilliard
Globalization defines our era. It is "what happens when the movement of people, goods, or ideas among countries and regions accelerates" (Coatsworth, this volume). In recent years, globalization has come into focus, generating considerable interest and controversy in the social sciences, humanities, and policy circles and among the informed public at large (see, for example, Appadurai 1996; Bauman 1998; Baylis and Smith 1997; Bhagwati 2002; Castles and Davidson 2000; Giddens 2000; Hardt and Negri 2000, Inda and Rosaldo 2001; Jameson and Miyoshi 1999; King 1997; Lechner and Boli 1999; O'Meara, Mehlinger, and Krain 2000; Sassen 1998; Singer 2002; Tomlinson 1999). From terrorism to the environment, HIV-AIDS to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), free trade to protectionism, population growth to poverty and social justice, globalization seems deeply implicated in nearly all of the major issues of the new millennium.
While globalization has created a great deal of debate in economic, policy, and grassroots circles, many implications and applications of the phenomenon remain virtual terra incognita. Education is at the center of this uncharted continent. We have barely started to consider how these accelerating transnational dynamics are affecting education, particularly precollegiate education. Instead, educational systems worldwide continue mimicking and often mechanically copying from each other and borrowing curricula (from trivial facts about history in middle school to trigonometry in high school), teaching methods ("chalk and talk"), and assessment tests (short answer and regurgitation). These practices would have been familiar to our forebears going to school two generations ago (Suárez-Orozco and Gardner 2003). Yet youth in school today, whether in Bali, Beijing, Beirut, Berlin, Boston, or Buenos Aires, will encounter a vastly different world from that of our grandparents.
Throughout most human prehistory and history, the vectors that organized and gave meaning to human lives and human imaginaries were structured primarily by local geography and topology, local kinship and social organization, local worldviews and religions. Even a few hundred years ago, a minute in human evolutionary time, the lives of our ancestors were largely shaped by local economies, local social relations, and local knowledge. Prior to the transoceanic explorations and conquests, villagers were likely to be born, raised, and schooled (however shortly), to work, marry, reproduce, and be buried in the same locale. They were largely oblivious to changes taking place even a few hundred miles away. Then "the village was practically the beginning and end of his or her world: visitors were rare, few travelers passed by, and excursions from the village would, in all likelihood, have only been to the nearest market town.... Contact with the outside world would have been the exception rather than the rule" (Held 2000).
Today the world is another place. While human lives continue to be lived in local realities, these realities are increasingly being challenged and integrated into larger global networks of relationships. The forces of globalization are taxing youth, families, and education systems worldwide. All social systems are predicated on the need to impart values, morals, skills, and competencies to the next generation (see Gardner, this volume). The main thesis of this book is that the lives and experiences of youth growing up today will be linked to economic realities, social processes, technological and media innovations, and cultural flows that traverse national boundaries with ever greater momentum. These global transformations, we believe, will require youth to develop new skills that are far ahead of what most educational systems can now deliver. New and broader global visions are needed to prepare children and youth to be informed, engaged, and critical citizens in the new millennium. This book has been developed around the idea that education will need both rethinking and restructuring if schooling is to best prepare the children and youth of the world to engage globalization's new challenges, opportunities, and costs.
Education's challenge will be to shape the cognitive skills, interpersonal sensibilities, and cultural sophistication of children and youth whose lives will be both engaged in local contexts and responsive to larger transnational processes. We claim that two domains in particular will present the greatest challenges to schooling worldwide: the domain of difference and the domain of complexity.
The Domain of Difference
One of the paradoxes of globalization is that difference is becoming increasingly normative. Globalization and massive migrations are changing the ways we experience national identities and cultural belonging (see C. Suárez-Orozco, this volume). At the beginning of the twentieth century, W.E.B. Du Bois announced that "the color line" would define the social agenda for the United States. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, that line is complicated by the increasingly fluid political and cultural borders that once separated both nation-states and the people within them. These external and internal borders are increasingly becoming noisy and conflictive areas where cultural communication and miscommunication play out in schools, communities, and places of work and worship.
Globalization decisively unmakes the coherence that the modernist project of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century nation-state promised to deliver-the neat fit between territory, language, and identity (see Suárez-Orozco and Sommer 2002). Consider the following depiction of one of France's largest cities:
To enter the Rue Du Bon Pasteur in the heart of this Mediterranean port is to leave France. Or rather, it is to leave a France still fixed in the imagination of many, a land where French is spoken and traditions of a secular society are enforced. The Rue du Bon Pasteur-the Street of the Good Shepherd-is a haven owned, operated, and populated by Arab Muslims. Arabic is spoken here. All the women cover their hair with scarves. Men in robes and sandals sit together in cafes where they reach out to Arabia via satellite television. The kiosk on the corner sells a score of newspapers and magazines flown in daily from the Arab world. The Attaqwa mosque in the middle of the street calls so many worshippers to prayer every Friday that dozens of them are forced to lay out their prayer rugs on the street. That street reflects the political and social reality facing France. Demography has transformed the country, whose population is about 7 percent Arab and Muslim, the highest percentage in Western Europe. (Sciolino 2003)
As Clifford Geertz has poetically noted, "all modern nations-even Norway, even Japan-contradict themselves: They contain multitudes" (Shweder, Minow, and Markus 2002, back cover). These "multitudes" challenge the structure and practices of the nation state (see Shweder, Minor, and Markus 2002) but may invigorate democracy's best promise when difference engenders serious engagement and debate.
Managing difference is becoming one of the greatest challenges to multicultural countries. From France to Sweden, Brazil to Bolivia, Indonesia to Malaysia, the work of managing difference calls forth a new educational agenda. Children growing up in these and other settings are more likely than in any previous generation in human history to face a life of working and networking, loving and living with others from different national, linguistic, religious, and racial backgrounds. They are challenged to engage and work through competing and contrasting models, such as kinship, gender, language (monolingual and multilingual), and the complicated relationships between race, ethnicity, and inequality, in new ways. It is by interrupting "thinking as usual"-the taken-for-granted understandings and worldviews that shape cognitive and metacognitive styles and practices-that managing difference can do the most for youth growing up today.
Take, for example, the widely shared Western idea that individuals ought to autonomously and freely enter marriage agreements predicated on individual agency and love. A Swedish youngster might find it odd, maybe even bizarre, that for her Kurdish classmate, the idea of "love marriage" would be culturally incomprehensible. Working through the cultural models and social practices that structure the idea of love marriage-a historically new and, until very recently, ethnographically rare practice-and the idea of "arranged marriage"-the preferred marriage practice found in most ethnographic and historical records-can open up more nuanced and sophisticated understandings of human nature and culture, history and kinship, social organization and values. If the child learns nothing else, she should know that there is nothing natural about love marriage!
Negotiating differences requires energy-the kind of energy that can be recycled and harnessed to bolster a cornerstone of human intelligence: the ability to consider multiple perspectives (Piaget 1936; Gardner 1999; Vygotsky 1978). Taking multiple perspectives, reversing mental routines, and articulating multiple hypotheses from a common set of facts and working through the logical and rational vectors that would best explain those preexisting facts are crucial features of human intelligence. When distinct cultural models and social practices are deployed to address a common set of problems, youth gain the cognitive and metacognitive advantages inherent in examining and working on a problem from many angles. Freely, fully, and respectfully arguing within a framework of difference is likely to better equip youth to deal with the complexities of the day.
The Domain of Complexity
Globalization engenders complexity. Throughout the world it is generating more intricate demographic profiles (see C. Suárez-Orozco, this volume), economic realities (see Bloom, this volume; Coatsworth, this volume), political processes, technology and media (see Jenkins, this volume; Battro, this volume), cultural facts and artifacts (see Watson, this volume; Jenkins, this volume), and identities (see Maira, this volume; C. Suárez-Orozco, this volume). Many countries are indeed undergoing intense demographic transformations. Sweden, a country of nine million people today, has a million immigrants, roughly half of them from the Muslim world (for other examples, see C. Suárez-Orozco, this volume). Economies likewise must adapt to the new, complex forces brought about by global capital. Local politics, too, are stretched in new ways-for example, when "absentee citizens" in the diaspora exercise political power in the communities they left behind.
Globalization's increasing complexity necessitates a new paradigm for learning and teaching. The mastery and mechanical regurgitation of rules and facts should give way to a paradigm in which cognitive flexibility and agility win the day. The skills needed for analyzing and mobilizing to solve problems from multiple perspectives will require individuals who are cognitively flexible, culturally sophisticated, and able to work collaboratively in groups made up of diverse individuals. In his contribution to this volume Howard Gardner claims that the complexity behind many of globalization's "big problems" requires deep disciplinary grounding as well as the ability to achieve multidisciplinary understandings, collaborations, and solutions. "Trends in our increasingly globalized society," writes Gardner (this volume), "have brought interdisciplinary concerns to the fore. Issues like poverty reduction, anti-terrorism, privacy, prevention of disease, energy conservation, ecological balance-and the list could be expanded at will-all require input from and syntheses of various forms of disciplinary knowledge and methods. Educational institutions seek, in their ways, to respond to the demand for this kind of skill; and the more adventurous students are attracted to studies that call for a blend of disciplinary expertises." Multitasking, learning how to learn, learning from failures, lifelong learning, and the ability to master and move across domains now have a premium.
An education for globalization should therefore nurture the higher-order cognitive and interpersonal skills required for problem finding, problem solving, articulating arguments, and deploying verifiable facts or artifacts to substantiate claims. These skills should be required of children and youth who will, as adults, fully engage the larger world and master its greatest challenges, transforming it for the betterment of humanity-regardless of national origin or cultural upbringing. This we term the convergence hypothesis: globalization is de-territorializing the skills and competencies it rewards, thereby generating powerful centripetal forces on what students the world over need to know.
In this book we examine how globalization is shaping the lives of the children of the world in and out of schools. Our aim is to stimulate new thinking, research, and policy work in a domain that remains largely ignored by scholars of education. Millions of children and youth are growing up in a world where global processes are placing new demands on educational systems that are traditionally averse to change (see Gardner, this volume). There is virtually no scholarship on globalization and precollegiate education. While there is some research on policy, administration, and curriculum that address globalization and primary and secondary education worldwide (see for example Burbules and Torres 2000; Quashigah and Wilson 2001; Stromquist and Monkman 2000), generally these works fail to foreground how globalization is impacting the experiences of youth in and out of schools. Likewise, there is a small but growing literature on youth and globalization (see, for example, Amit-Talai and Wulff 1995; Bennett 2000; Jenkins 1992, 1998; Larson 2002; Maira and Soep, forthcoming). Alas, most of these works also fail to emphasize the role of education and schools in the lives of youth.
A number of researchers have begun to systematically examine how globalization is changing the lives of youth in Latin America and the Caribbean (Welti 2002), in Arab countries (Booth 2002), in sub-Saharan Africa (Nsamenang 2002), and in Southeast Asia (Stevenson and Zusho 2002). More and more young people in these areas have access to global information; they copy the styles of U.S.
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