Byron's Babbles

Educating Students To Improve The World

The book Educating Students to Improve the World, written by Harvard Professor Fernando M. Reimers, presents an inspiring and bold vision of how schools should be organized to cultivate a range of skills and dispositions that effectively educate students to make the world better. The book is unique in the breadth of the scholarship it integrates and in how it builds a sensible model to understand the process of educational change that honors the multidimensionality of the process. It is, at the same time, a very scholarly book, an erudite treaty of the field of global education, and a very practical book, a book that makes sense to those in the business of leading schools and school systems.

Professor Reimers

The idea that the book contains is simple, yet holds remarkable potential to transform education around the world. The big idea the book contains is that public education, as an institution of the Enlightenment, was meant to be global since its creation, but the obvious global nature of many of the challenges facing humanity requires that education becomes intentionally  global. Professor Reimers argues in the book that formal education should be aligned with audacious and hopeful visions for a more inclusive world, such as those contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Such alignment involves defining what kind of competencies would actually help students care about and have the skills to make a difference in advancing a more inclusive and sustainable world. With such clarity on the expected learning outcomes for students, the curriculum would then map backwards an instructional sequence to gradually support students in a rigorous process of development of such competencies.

But the merit of this book goes beyond articulating why education should help students develop a sense of purpose, aligned with ambitious purposes of building a better world, it then explains how structuring effective education programs requires that the process of change is advanced multidimensionally, reflecting a cultural, psychological, professional, institutional and political. 

The ambitions of the book are considerable, to bridge an evident schism between the scholarship and practice of global education. The book is an intellectual tour de force tracing the history of global education to the very creation of public education systems, and integrating research reflecting a variety of disciplinary perspectives in support of a conceptual framework in service of more coherent and effective educational practice. 

Enhancing the credibility of the ideas in the book is not just the fact that the book is well researched and crafted, but that it builds on a long practice of the author actually doing the very things this books recommends should be done to develop a relevant curriculum. Professor Reimers invented an approach to take bold goals, such as the United Nations Development Goals, and translate them into student learning outcomes, and then curriculum and pedagogy. It’s a simple and intuitive idea, but it had not been done before. 

It is the combination of the powerful idea that education should be aligned with ambitious goals for inclusion and sustainability with a theoretical model of how to structure efforts to translate that idea into changed educational practices that makes this book unique. It is not surprising that since it was published, as an Open Access resource by Springer, a week ago, the book has already been downloaded 24,000 times.

The book can be downloaded here https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789811538865

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