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Unpublished report to the World Studies Trust. October 2003

Education for global citizenship: the knowledge, understanding and motivation of trainee teachers.

Holden, C., Clough, N., Hicks, D. and Martin, F.

The World Studies Trust is currently supporting teacher educators in the provision of global education to trainee teachers. As part of its remit, trustees wished to know more about the current understanding of trainee teachers in this field with a view to establishing the kind of provision that is needed. Four trustees, all working within ITET, carried out a small scale study into this area. It is envisaged that the findings will provide the basis for a larger bid for external funding to continue this work.

The researchers took as their starting point the 1998 MORI poll where over 1000 school children, aged 11-16, were questioned about their knowledge of global issues. This indicated that while most felt they knew something, the majority felt that they needed to be taught more at school and that such an understanding was important to their future (MORI 1998). This has a direct bearing on the knowledge and understanding of trainee teachers and leads us to question the extent to which we are preparing our new teachers to meet this need. We need to know how secure trainee teachers feel in their knowledge of global issues and how confident they feel to include such perspectives in their teaching. As a result our study, involving four universities from the south west of England, set out to investigate:

· How knowledgeable are trainees of global issues?
· Where does their knowledge and understanding come from?
· How prepared (and motivated) are they to include global perspectives in their teaching?

A total of 850 trainee teachers, both secondary and primary, postgraduate and undergraduate, were involved in the research. This paper summarises key findings, drawing on both questionnaire and interview data, and discusses the implications for both teacher education and for effective education for global citizenship.

Global issues
The debate about how children should best be educated to deal with our rapidly changing and interdependent world has recently re-surfaced, having been marginalised when the National Curriculum was introduced in 1988. The introduction of education for citizenship in 2002 has been one reason for this debate re-surfacing, with its requirement that pupils be taught about ‘the world as a global community, and the political, economic, environmental and social implications of this’ (DfES 1999; 14). There is a recognition that the focus of the national curriculum has been too Anglo-centric and nationalist, ignoring both the culturally diverse nature of the UK and the global community within which we now operate. Many reports (Runnymede 2000, Cogan and Derricott 2000) indicate an urgent need to educate young people as informed global citizens, knowledgeable about global issues and competent to participate in a democracy.

Hicks (2003) has traced the global education movement back over the last 30 years, indicating how the work of Richardson, Hicks and Fisher, Pike and Selby among others have influenced both policy and practice. The current resurgence of interest owes much to the work of these authors and is typified by the work of the Department for International Development (DfID) and many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are supporting schools and ITET (Initial Teacher Education and Training) in the teaching of global issues. Oxfam, for example, has provided materials for what they have termed ‘global citizenship’ and has identified the key areas of knowledge and understanding which should underpin such a curriculum as:

· peace and conflict (present and historical conflict)
· globalisation and interdependence (world affairs, political systems)
· social justice and equity (in different societies)
· sustainable development
· diversity (cultures in our own and other societies)

(Oxfam 1997)

The MORI survey: children’s knowledge of global issues
The five areas identified by Oxfam (above) are closely mirrored in the research conducted by MORI (1998), which in turn formed the basis for our own research into the views of trainee teachers. The questions to the pupils covered their knowledge and understanding of the reasons for war (in the world), famine, overpopulation, environmental problems, economic problems in developing countries and human rights abuses.

Most of the pupils felt they knew something about global issues. Three quarters felt they knew something about the causes of war, with two thirds saying they knew something about the reasons for famine in the world, environmental problems and the reasons for overpopulation. Half felt they knew something about the reasons for human rights abuses and the third world’s economic problems. However, one quarter admitted to knowing nothing about the last two issues. The causes of war, along with the reasons for human rights abuses emerged as the issues that pupils most wanted to learn more about.

Television (82%) was cited as the primary source of information about global issues, with school, newspapers and parents following close behind. Although some pupils said that they learnt about global issues at school, three quarters wanted to know more and felt that they needed such understanding to help them in the future. They felt that environmental problems, war and the increasing gap between rich and poor would affect their lives as adults. They did not, however, feel that they could do much to change the world. This feeling of being interested but powerless is mirrored by other research – e.g. Hicks and Holden (1995), Hutchinson (1996).

Our research: trainee teachers’ knowledge and understanding of global issues
If the children in our schools are interested in global issues and want to know more, then how well are we preparing our new teachers for this work? Our survey aimed to keep as far as possible to the MORI questionnaire to enable direct comparisons, while adding some new questions to ascertain the background and prior experience of the trainees. This was in line with findings from Thomas (2001) that teachers with prior experience, for example of VSO, are more committed to introducing global perspectives into their teaching. When pupils were asked about their knowledge and understanding of specific global issue, they were given three choices from ‘know something’, ‘ know nothing’ and ‘don’t know’. This was amended with the trainees to ‘know a lot’, ‘know something’, ‘know nothing’ as it was felt that some trainees might consider themselves to be well informed in a way that school children would not.

Four cohorts of students from four universities were involved in the questionnaires:
· Cohort A was 119 primary trainees on a PGCE programme in a large city with a culturally diverse population
· Cohort B was 194 primary trainees on a PCGE programme in smaller city with a mainly white population.
· Cohort C was 440 secondary trainees on a PGCE programme in a second city with a mainly white population
· Cohort D was 101 primary trainees (year 1) on a three year UG programme in a third city with a mainly white population

Thus the sample was divided more or less equally between secondary and primary, and within the primary sample just over one-fifth of the students were undergraduates. Half of the total sample was in the 18-23 age bracket, with 35% being in the 24-34 age range and 15% over 35. Three-quarters of the sample was female, with the majority of the men being secondary trainees.

In depth interviews were used to illuminate the responses in the questionnaire. 300 students volunteered to be interviewed from which a sample of 41 was selected from across the four universities. Trainees were asked to ‘say more about’ their responses and to talk about their confidence to teach about global issues and their perceptions of their training. Whilst the focus was on the global issues identified in Table 1, the trainees widened the remit to include other aspects of citizenship education such as teaching about justice, equality, cultural diversity and politics in this country and teaching the skills of co-operation, discussion and critical reflection.


How knowledgeable are trainees about global issues?

a lot
Know something
Know nothing
Reasons for war in the world
Reasons for famine in the world
Reasons for environmental problems
Reasons for overpopulation
Reasons for the Third World’s
economic problems
Reasons for human rights abuses
Trainees’ knowledge of global issues (%) : Table 1

These questions were the same as those given to the pupils with the exception of the extra ‘know a lot’ category. The Table indicates that the vast majority felt they either knew something or a lot about most of today’s pressing global problems. They knew least about the reasons for human rights abuses. This parallels the findings from the pupil survey where they too knew least about the reasons for human rights abuses and the third world’s economic problems.

Further analysis of the data by gender indicates that men were more confident in their knowledge. In each case they were twice as likely to say they ‘knew a lot’ and far less likely to say they ‘knew nothing’. For example 30% of men said they ‘knew a lot’ about the reasons for environmental problems, compared with 16.6% of women, and only 3% ‘knew nothing’ as compared with 7% of women. PGCE students were at least twice as likely to ‘know a lot’ than the one cohort of UG students. 12% of both cohorts of primary PGCEs, for example, ‘knew a lot’ about third world economic problems, 19% of the secondary PGCEs said they ‘knew a lot’ but only 5% of UG students answered thus. Cross tabulation of students’ interest and knowledge indicated (perhaps understandably) that trainees with no interest in global issues and no connections were also the most likely to ‘know nothing’ – ie they had the least understanding of global issues.

Comments made in interview endorsed these responses. One trainee said she knew a little about most of the questions but ‘there is too much to know’ whilst another admitted ‘I don’t know very much’ but would ‘like to know more’. Others talked about their engagement with voluntary organisations in this country or time spent living or working abroad: these experiences had often been the source of their knowledge and had fuelled a desire to know more.

Where does trainees’ knowledge and understanding of global issues come from?

Television 95
Newspapers 90
Friends 59
Radio 59
Books 57
Family 55
Internet 53
Magazines 52
University 44
Films 41
School 34
Sources of information (%): Table 2

Like the school children, the trainees cited television and newspapers as main sources of information, but after that they differed. Important sources of information for the children were parents and school, followed by magazines and books. As the table indicates, under half of the trainees felt they had learnt much about global issues from university even though the majority of them had just finished an undergraduate degree. Further analysis by age range indicates that students in the youngest age bracket (18-23) were more likely to gain information from family (61%) and school (45%) than respondents from the two older age groups. Those over 24 were more likely to use the radio and books as sources of information than this younger group, though the internet and television were rated equally as sources by all age groups. In fact the main sources of information cited by all are those which can carry a particular viewpoint, so there may be a question here about how well we train young people (and in particular potential teachers) to be critical interpreters of the information they receive.

Lived and worked abroad 40%
Family/friends from other cultures 55%
Particularly interested in global issues 53%
None of the above 18%
Prior experience: Table 3
(responses total more than 100% as trainees could tick more than one category)

The questionnaire given to the children did not include this section, but, as noted above, we felt it important to go beyond the sources of information in Table 2, and look at the prior experiences of trainees. Table 3 indicates that while some 49% had lived or worked abroad, well over half had friends or family from other cultures and were interested in global issues. However a sizeable minority – nearly one fifth of the survey - had no interest in global issues and had no connections with other places or peoples.

It is interesting to break down these responses by gender and by cohort. An analysis by gender indicates that men are slightly more likely than women to have lived and worked abroad (46% cf 37%) and to be interested in global issues (58% cf 51%). The reasons for this did not manifest themselves at interview. Their wider experience (and interest) may correlate with their alleged greater knowledge and is an area for future investigation.

When looking at the responses from each individual cohort of students, it is interesting to note that Cohort A, the students at the only university in a culturally diverse city, were more likely to have lived or worked abroad than the other students. 50% of Cohort A had lived or worked abroad, compared to 40% of Cohort B, 45% of Cohort C (the secondary students) and only 5% of Cohort D (the undergraduates). Interest in global issues was in direct correlation with these responses: those from Cohort A were the most interested (63%) and those from Cohort D the least interested (17%). This relates to the earlier finding that those with no interest are also those with the least knowledge. There are important questions here about how we educate our undergraduate trainees about global issues and the importance of working or living abroad.

Interviews shed more light on the nature of the experience of those who had lived or worked abroad. Some had taught English in other countries- eg India, Nepal and Morocco. Others had done voluntary work abroad, such as working for VSO, for the Raleigh International Project in Ghana and for Aids Awareness in Zimbabwe. Some had lived abroad with their families (in India, Australia, Nigeria) or travelled extensively (in Nepal, Pakistan, China, Spain etc).

Those who had lived and worked in the South spoke of the importance of experiencing difference. They spoke in terms of cultural difference, ideological difference and the difference in terms of wealth and privilege. For many their time abroad had raised issues for them in relation to wealth and poverty and had given them a broader perspective. As one explained:

It opens up your eyes to how other people live and the problems they face and how like you they are… I feel that everyone is similar to each other… we live in different places but we’re fundamentally the same.

A student who had been going to India since she was young because her father worked there, described it as ‘forming who I am’.

Other trainees who had not had such experiences were nonetheless aware of and interested in global issues. Some were involved with campaigning organisations or charities in the UK, such as Amnesty, Greenpeace, Traidcraft and local environmental or action groups. Others cited the influence of their parents, their friends or their religious beliefs on forming their opinions.

As an interesting aside to the interviews, many of the students wanted to point out that while they themselves were interested in issues of global inequality and committed to working for change, they did not think that all students shared their concerns. One said:

People don’t have a clue, I remember voting….and no-one that I knew voted, I just about managed to get my flat mate to come and vote with me.

A mature student despaired:

I live in a flat with people who are sort of twenty two, they honestly just don’t give a damn,.. they don’t think about it, they're not involved with any charities, they don’t give a toss about environmental concerns, they just want to go out, get pissed on Friday night and watch the footy on Saturday and have fun and there's this whole kind of Hollyoaks youth culture which wasn’t my adolescence and I find that really scary.

These comments are obviously anecdotal - we cannot know how true they are - and indeed by contrast another student from the same course said she was surprised at how many people she knew were interested in global issues. Nonetheless they are interesting and may indicate that those who volunteered to be interviewed were not typical. Further research is needed here.

How prepared (and motivated) do trainees feel to include global perspectives in their teaching??
Responses from the questionnaires indicated that 92% of the respondents either strongly agreed or tended to agree that ‘trainee teachers need to know more about global issues’, with 97% agreeing that schools should ‘educate pupils on issues affecting the world’. The overwhelming majority (92%) believed that as teachers, they could make a difference to children’s understanding of such issues but said that they needed to know more.

These high figures are interesting as we know that 18% said they had neither lived nor worked abroad, did not have friends from other cultures and were not particularly interested in global issues. Of this sizeable minority (151 students) two thirds come from Cohort D- the undergraduates. It appears that these students are not particularly knowledgeable or interested in global issues and yet understand that this is an important area. There are questions here, then, about how best to build in global education into UG programmes.

This high level of interest in and commitment of the majority of the students to teaching about global issues was reflected in the interviews. Trainees said that it was ‘essential’ that children learnt about such issues, that they had broad horizons, were able to ‘live internationally’ and could see beyond their own ‘small world’. One trainee thought that teachers who did not have this approach were ‘short changing the children’. For another, there was a ‘big link’ between ‘active citizenship and global awareness …. You need to be aware of your actions… that your actions have consequences’. In one case the enthusiasm for such an approach came from a recent placement, where the trainee claimed that the ‘whole school ethos’ reflected a commitment to global citizenship:

What excites me so much about multicultural classrooms is that it’s there- it’s tangible because the kids are from different cultures and the school reflects that.

However this high level of commitment was matched by an equally high level of concern about how such issues should best be taught. Many could see that there were opportunities within the curriculum (especially in cross-curricular topics which included geography, science, English and PSME) but wanted much more guidance on teaching strategies and on how best to introduce global issues and the other areas related to citizenship. Concerns focussed on:

· The fear factor (children’s reactions to war and violence)
· Knowing how to judge what is appropriate and what isn’t (especially with young children)
· Their own role- should they be neutral or give an opinion?
· Parents’ reaction to dealing with controversial issues
· Time for this along with everything else
· Lack of confidence to deal with difficult areas (eg Iraq, immigration)
· Knowing how to facilitate discussion
· Having sufficient knowledge themselves of current issues

One articulated these concerns:

The danger is that…. you're vested with this huge authority as a teacher. I think if you just say ‘Well this is my view,’ , most of them will look to find a way of supporting your view without actually engaging with the issues. It is difficult in a primary school because they're so young.

Our findings indicate that trainee teachers are generally enthusiastic and committed to teaching about global issues and that many of the PGCE students bring prior experience to their training. However, they wish to know more and lack confidence in their ability to teach what for many appear to be controversial or difficult issues. There are implications here for those of us in ITET. In particular we need to:

· harness the enthusiasm and commitment many trainees bring
· help them critically evaluate their sources of information on global issues
· listen to their experiences and their concerns
· give them strategies for teaching about global and controversial issues
· provide opportunities for them to improve their own knowledge and understanding
· consider how to address the disinterest of a minority of students
· consider how to ensure that UG students have the kinds of experiences which have developed the knowledge and understanding of PGCE students

This may mean a shift in the current emphasis on the core subjects in the ITET curriculum, or at the very least taking a more cross-curricular topic-based approach.
Garratt and Piper’s comments on trainees’ knowledge of citizenship are relevant here. ‘It may be appropriate’, they say, ‘to identify the limitation of a classroom competency driven approach to teacher training in comparison with a more socially conscious conception of teacher education’ (Garratt and Piper 2003,143). A shift in the current focus of initial teacher education to include a greater emphasis on global perspectives across the curriculum will not only address the needs of the children in the MORI survey, it will also meet the needs of our young teachers. As one of our trainees said:

There’s teaching the stuff that you have to teach but there’s also educating children about life and about the real world and real issues and that’s something which I feel is really important, it's close to my heart and something which I would want to do ….

If we are to retain young teachers such as this one in the profession and provide a curriculum which is relevant to them and relevant to the twenty first century then giving time to ‘the real world and real issues’ would seem a sensible way forward.

Cogan, J. and Derricott, R. (2000) Citizenship for the 21st Century: An International Perspective on Education. London: Kogan Paul.

DfEE/QCA, (1999) The National Curriculum, London: DfEE/QCA.

Garratt, D and Piper, H. (2003) Citizenship education and the monarchy: examining the contradictions. British Journal of Educational Studies, 51,2,127-147.

Hicks, D. and Holden C. (1995) Visions of the Future: why we need to teach for tomorrow. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham.

Hicks, D. (2003) Thirty years of global education: a reminder of key principles and precedents. Educational Review (forthcoming).

Hutchinson, F. (1996) Educating Beyond Violent Futures. London: Routledge.

MORI (1998) Children’s knowledge of global issues. London: MORI.

Oxfam, (1997) A Curriculum for Global Citizenship. Oxford: Oxfam.

Thomas, G (2001) Human Traffic: skills, employers and international volunteering. London: Demos.

Runnymede, (2000) The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain: The Parekh Report. London: Profile Books.

Note: this research was carried out with the support of the World Studies Trust.

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