Cultivating Ordinary Voices of Dissent: the Challenge for the Social Studies
Keywords:social studies, global education, teacher education
Two broad ideas emerge from reflections on my career in global and international education: first, that my ‘lived experience’ offers both intelligence and ignorance in terms or how I view the world; and second, that the essence of my humanity is enhanced through my identification with, and sense of responsibility for, fellow humans. The latter idea is encapsulated in the African philosophy of ubuntu. These two ideas prompt my contention that the global education movement has failed to adequately convey through its literature and practice the complexity and interrelatedness of global systems, including the inextricable connections between humans and their environments. The nature of contemporary global challenges, such as climate change, demands that we understand how global systems are intertwined and adjust our actions accordingly. The social studies need to be at the forefront of nurturing systems level thinking and innovation, particularly to counter the tendency arising from advances in information technology to develop cultures of conformity. Young people around the world have the potential to bring about system-wide change through their ordinary voices of dissent, a collective commitment to decision-making based on recognizing the needs of all humanity, rather than just assessing the benefits to individuals or nations.