Flip the Curriculum: A Global Perspectives Framework

Speaker: Chris Gauthier
Institution: Cleveland District State High School, Australia

This session focuses on the problems that educators are currently facing in the classroom and how these can be overcome by flipping your curriculum with a global education perspective. The session will present the global perspectives framework and give teachers a hands on practical approach to integrating global themes into curriculum. The session will highlight the DeforestACTION project and how it's transformed the teaching and learning at Cleveland District State High School (in Brisbane Australia) around one of the world's most complex environmental issues.

One of the greatest challenges a teacher has to deal with is student engagement. In a study conducted by the Pearson Foundation (2011), entitled 'My Voice Survey' found that less than 50% of students found school to be meaningful, interesting and important. While these percentages are quite confronting, they do present opportunities for educators. This is evident in the Civics and Citizenship Report produced by ACARA (2010) as it illustrated that many students are connected to the theme of sustainability and environment. Of the Year 6 students surveyed, 88% agreed with the statement that taking part in activities that protect the environment as being very important or quite important to them. Research shows evidence to suggest that student engagement in their education increases if they feel connected to the curriculum presented.

The focus of my research is how action based environmental and sustainability educational programmes increase a student's engagement and development as more aware, active, global citizens. A youth organisation called Taking IT Global encourages students and educators alike to become inspired, informed and involved regarding global issues (http://www.tigweb.org/). It is one of their projects, DeforestACTION, an action based educational approach trying to end illegal logging around the world and creating a permanent habitat for the endangered orang-utan, which presents a very unique case study.

DeforestACTION was formed in early 2010 when 12 schools from the Asia Pacific region were invited to Singapore through Microsoft's Regional Innovation Education Forum. Here, students elected the issue of deforestation as an area of interest and within weeks the DeforestACTION programme was created with 90 students in participation. The project aims to provide students with opportunities to dream big and be part of lasting solutions to end deforestation globally (Karena, 2011).

What my research has found so far is that students who have been involved in this experiential learning project have a much better understanding of the complex issues in Borneo and have developed their identity as a global citizen. This quote of a student illustrates perfectly the power of this experience from the student perspective: “In year 9, I was a very insecure and dis-empowered individual....I would even go as far as saying I hated myself and hated the way I looked.....It wasn't until I got involved in year 10....that I gained my voice, self-confidence and ultimately changed the direction of my life.”

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