Promoting or Discouraging Global Citizens (Multiculturalism) through Virtual Field Trips & VideoConferencing:


Two days ago I mentioned being at a virtual field trip. The students began to laugh and mock out a person who was chanting a prayer to Pele. The person was very demonstrative in saying the prayer in the native language.

The virtual field trip planners probably did not think that viewing students would have an adverse reaction to this culture. However, the students viewed this person as different and negative, a combination that does not usually contribute to being accepting of other cultures. The planners could have found similar examples in mainland USA such as a Native American Shaman praying, a Jewish cantor, a Muslim at prayer time, Wicca priestess “praying”, etc.

The virtual field trip planners did not plan ahead and therefore these students had a negative reaction to this cultural event. The students became less of global citizens by participating in the virtual field trip; they become more of “aren’t these other people weird” citizens.

How do you prepare your students to encounter another culture? Do they “leave” the virtual field trip or videoconference with a positive or negative attitude toward that culture?  Even if the cultural item, people, or event is different and negative, how do you help them to see it in another light? How can you show its similarity and how positive it is?



2 Responses to “Promoting or Discouraging Global Citizens (Multiculturalism) through Virtual Field Trips & VideoConferencing:”

  1. 1 inel December 13, 2006 at 11:09 am

    This is a big issue, that hinges on fundamental points such as emphasising the humanity of every person on this planet, and developing empathy and solutions for living together in harmony on this vast shared resource … which is what I believe education should be about.

    Last year, the British government’s Department for Education and Skills “published a guidance paper, Developing the Global Dimension in the School Curriculum, which outlined eight aspects of local-global interdependence: conflict resolution, social justice, values and perceptions, sustainable development, interdependence, human rights, diversity and global citizenship. They are crucial for fostering global understanding in our pupils.”

    That quote is from this article on improving the global context in classrooms—worth reading and discussing with other teachers, if you are interested in preparing the next generation of global citizens to solve global problems out of “empathy, not pity”:,,1946694,00.html

    By the way, I like the way you include diagrams in your posts, but would make a plea to all teachers to add one more column and row to each chart, especially when dealing with cultural comparisons. Instead of black and white, I would have black, grey and white. Instead of positive and negative, I would have positive, neutral, and negative. Instead of similar and different, I would suggest similar, don’t know, different. Many issues fall into the middle ground, and are less well defined, and those are the ones that students should be encouraged to ponder and grapple with as global citizens. They need to know that you cannot always put things into neat categories, especially when dealing with real humans (as opposed to characters in novels). One difficulty with global issues is that if there is no black or white solution, and no easy political soundbite, some people do nothing, or treat the unknown as negative and opposite to their known world and we end up with a mess despite many people’s good intentions—look at climate change as a good example!

  2. 2 hgtuttle December 13, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks for your response. The info from British government was great.

    The chart is based on two dissertations on changing cultural (Tuttle and Saccyhin). Both dissertations assume that once you know how the perceived audience will probably react to a cultural situation using the similar/different and positive/negative dimensions, you can modify their introduction to the cultural event so that they do perceive it in a more accepting way.

    I think that we do have a responsibility to make our students global citizens.

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