Experiential Learning in International Classrooms: A Model for Preservice Teachers

Experiential Learning in International Classrooms: A Model for Preservice Teachers

Ann C. Cunningham (Wake Forest University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7305-0.ch042


This chapter outlines the development, design, implementation, and impact of an international initial field experience for preservice teachers. Strategies for initiating opportunities for similar models, extending the experience into student teaching, and the value of inter-institutional collaboration are also delineated.
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Global competence is becoming a new education initiative, and preparing young Americans for a globalized future emerges as a new and vital component of American education. Academics, state and government agencies, as well as business and education consortia have attempted to outline strategies to promote this national agenda and establish guidelines, benchmarks, and descriptions of what curriculum designed to prepare PK-12 students for a 21st century global economy might include. For example, the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) policy statement on international education outlines five challenges the current American education system faces to prepare citizens for full participation in a globalized society. This policy statement, now over ten years old, reveals that one of the five challenges is “Our teachers are not sufficiently supported and trained in 21st century skills and global content” (CCSSO, 2004). More recently, Zhao (2012) asserted that the “Cold War” curriculum of the past is no longer relevant and new economies call for students to develop skills and dispositions that are different from those needed by previous generations. Critical dispositions for full participation in a globalized world include recognizing and valuing intercultural competence and the appreciation of global cultures and global language acquisition. In particular, students should learn to recognize the similarities and differences of global and domestic cultures to help them understand that no one culture is superior to another, and to appreciate that all humans share similar needs, hopes, and aspirations regardless of race, class or creed. This culturally enhanced curriculum is inherent in Zhao’s call for an end to a “Cold War” curriculum that focuses on test-driven assessment of student progress on limited content (2012). A successfully functioning global economy depends on a culturally competent and globally aware workforce that is prepared to adjust to the needs of a robust and flexible economy driven by innovation, entrepreneurship, and international engagement.

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