Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

International Education Partnerships: The Need for a Global Perspective

These are my notes from the presentation “International Education Partnerships: The Need for a Global Perspective” at the OU K-20 Center’s MidWinter Conference in Norman, Oklahoma, on 29 January 2009. MY REFLECTIONS ARE IN ALL CAPS. The conference Ning is, and is open to anyone.

How do we broaden students’ perspectives so they are empowered to participate in a global community?
– professor Teresa DeBacker’s comments

1- Psychological answer
– appeal to college students in particular by meeting them where they are
– they are forming their identities
– we need to model values that are consistent with a global perspective
– appeal to adolescent/young adult idealism
– you (and people like me) can make a difference

We know young adults are very idealistic about the possibilities of changing the world for the better
– we need to offer them practical opportunities
OU Cousins Program is one example (take local students and make them cousins with international and other visiting students)
– Short-term study abroad opportunities
– long-term immersion opportunities

Now developing a six week program with a university in Puebla, Mexico
– focus is on intense language study as well as issues of interest to educators
– live with family for six weeks
– daily classroom instruction and structured conversation
– spanish-speaking tour guides on outings

Cultural exploration
– afternoon sightseeing and recreation
– weekend excursions
– dance and cooking workshops
– weekly cinema with discussion

topics for educators
– Mexican culture
– Mexican education system
– rural and indigenous education
– economic and social context
– poverty and migration
– importance and significance of work

What can we do

Now comments from Jennifer Robinson, National Board Certified Teacher and French Instructor and Classen School of Advanced Studies in Oklahoma City Public Schools
– memo of understanding with france, MOU signed 2 years ago
– this is a wonderful way to bring international perspectives to the classroom
– OKCPS has skype blocked right now
– we have tried large videoconferences, but my vision
– are working on a wikispace now
— entirely different from blogs
— completely protected, only members can see it (parents, administrators, and students)


Students have written about the elections, MLK holiday, holiday customs, strikes in France
– write about Manga, Music, lots of things
– very meaningful learning, it is something I can control better and faster than handwritten notes

Wikispaces is free, available, and my French counterpart loves it!

Fulbright Teacher Administrator Program
– took me to Fance last year
– there are short and long term programs, 1 and 2 way programs, internships, lots of opportunities

Now comments from Barbara Thompson, Honorary Consul to France
– Barbara has received the France’s Chevalier of the Legion of Honor
– just returned from travels in the UK and New Zealand
– other countries place much more emphasis on second and third languages
– are only 2 schools in Oklahoma which offer an International Baccalaureate Program (Booker T Washington and Classen SAS)

Everyone in Europe was eager to discuss our election and the economic downturn

What can we do to encourage international connections?
– can be as simple as tracing a tomato in the grocery store to its point of origin in Chili
– learning another language is one of the best ways: be immersed
– human brain learns languages at early ages, this is a proven fact
– hire a second language teacher
– develop a partnership with another country
– begin with emails, use sites like wikispaces, and other educational exchanges

March of 2007, very successful partnership signed with Oklahoma and Pickart (?)
– more than 24 public and private schools are now partnered
– these are partnerships all over the state
– Eisenhower Elementary started with 5th graders going to Amien (?) and French students come to Tulsa

Oklahoma State School Superintendent Sandy Garrett led a visit last year to France

I recommend you develop a global curriculum at your school
– at my granddaughter’s school (not in Oklahoma, in Washington DC) they select a different continent each year
– this is called the global curriculum
– each grade selects a country
– at the end of the year they have museum night and the students are the guides
– this is called “A Global Curriculum”
– this is something you could learn how to do
– this is a great way to bring the world into your classroom

The promotion of international awareness is our worthy goal

Now comments from
– my perspectives are based on my experiences the past 8 years teaching students in Thailand

2 main things we need to do:

1- More person to person interactions
– we can do that with collaborative research
– more programs like Dr DeBacker talked about, that requires more infrastructure and funding
– at the K-20 level we can really grow is having students engaged in collaborative coursework
– example: studying contaminated groundwater, have our students interact and collaborate with others in Bangkok
— students can collaboratively come up with a design to solve that problem
— big issues: culture, language, also interesting pragmatic issues like the 12 hour time difference

2- Philosophical issue
– we need to teach students more about the culture in which we are in, Western culture
– how did we get here, who are we?
– that can help us take an in-depth look at the journey we’ve been on
– our culture is not a single strand that has evolved by itself, it has been influenced by so many other influences around the world

How many of you realize that after the fall of the Roman Empire, most of the Greek writings were lost
– those were rediscovered in Arabic during the Renaissance
– many people don’t realize this
– we need to understand how cultures are intertwined, how we are different but also similar

Facilitator comments
– appealing to students’ idealism is very important, hopes for a more peaceful and secure world
– challenging students to dream and DREAM BIG!
– empowering students with responsibility for action

Best way to help stereotypes disappear, to establish human connections to people in other cultures


The importance of partnerships is key
– hearing the persuasive voice of a teacher, a colleague, a friend who have benefited from these experiences and interactions

Building the human skills are absolutely necessary

OU has an international students’ speaker’s bureau
– students go and make presentations for others

suggestions from panelists
– state should provide funding for opportunities
– example is 2 colleges in Thailand and Oklahoam that want to co-develop an environmental engineering program
– resources and opportunities

Debra Dawson from SDE
– there is a mandate on the books now for an awareness program K-3
– and a mandated foreign language program, districts have to pick ONE language and go forward with this
– this is an unfunded mandate from the state
– Through technology free language learning opportunities are available too
– fear so often grips us in oklahoma, we need your help in overcoming that fear

France funds many of these student exchanges, there is also


Feb 13th there will be a global education conference at UCO

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6 responses to “International Education Partnerships: The Need for a Global Perspective”

  1. Globaloney Avatar

    Facilitator comments
    – appealing to students’ idealism is very important, hopes for a more peaceful and secure world
    – challenging students to dream and DREAM BIG!
    – empowering students with responsibility for action

    Do you think that is appropriate for a teacher to ask children to do the above things? School is a place to learn skills not make political activists of them…What skills do you teach in the areas of math, science, reading, language, etc?

  2. Wesley Fryer Avatar


    Yes I absolutely think it is appropriate for teachers to challenge students to dream big and seek to make a positive difference in the world in their lives. I do not think that goal is in any way mutually exclusive to the goal of learning core content area skills. None of the presenters in this session suggested that a focus on global education and intercultural understanding should be done at the expense of other academic requirements or mandates.

    Why are you opposed to students becoming political activists? At a basic level, one of the most important roles of our public schools is to help young people develop into responsible citizens. Voting is both a right and a duty of a citizen. Responsible voting requires citizens to be informed and active in the civic life of our nation. These are very important elements of a healthy democracy.

  3. Globaloney Avatar

    I am opposed to having a one-sided agenda being pushed upon them, which you must admit is what is being done.

    Schools are not turning out little conservatives that are hoping to preserve the republic under the US constitution are they? I don’t think so.

    Instead they are being subjected to the most left-wing, international agenda possible.

    This is not about ‘voting’.. I know from whence I speak… spent 40 years in education.

    This is why government should no longer be entrusted with our children… because it is being used for political purposes not to teach skills.

  4. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Good grief.

    Since when does working to inspire students to dream and make a positive impact on the world equate to “the most left-wing, international agenda possible?”

    While I am sure there are educators “out there” promoting an agenda to which that description could possibly be applied with accuracy, that was certainly not the case in this panel presentation last week in Norman.

    I appreciate your service to our nation and the children entrusted to your care for 40 years in our educational system. I certainly agree there are many problems with as well as challenges facing our educational system. I know, however, there are still thousands of teachers in our classrooms working hard and doing a fantastic job under extremely demanding conditions to help our students both “learn skills” as well as cultivate their own goals and ideas about their future contributions to our society.

    It is my contention that we need to strive to empower those educators to not only prepare students with “the basics” in terms of skills, but also with capacities to think critically and solve problems. Students as well as teachers need to learn to navigate and utilize the resources available in our digital information landscape. We also need to better understand the diverse and multicultural world in which we live. Global education is critical because it can help bridge gaps of understanding between individuals and groups, one friendship at a time.

    Global education initiatives like those discussed by the panelists in this session is not a “left-wing, international agenda.”

  5. Gregory Louie Avatar

    Hi Wes,

    Thanks for the posts from the K20 conference. I wish I could have been there.

    I’m wondering about the “2 main things we need to do: …

    .. collaborative coursework … studying contaminated groundwater (or other issues) … interact others in Bangkok (or other places around the world) … design to solve that problem

    Do you know of any teachers successfully doing this sort of thing? I’d like to have someone mentor me as I try to create a international collaboration around an appropriate-scale technological challenge to produce biomass-based locally grown liquid fuels to offset fossil fuel consumption, increase local prosperity and reduce global dependence on foreign oil.

  6. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Gregory: I recommend that you seek assistance by posting your project idea on the following 4 websites, to solicit mentorship and help:

    Global Education Collaborative

    Classroom 2.0


    CILC Collaboration Center

    If you post your request in one or more of these learning communities I feel very optimistic you will find collaborators and potential mentors! Good luck!