Globalization, American Schools, and the Challenge of the 21st Century

  • Over the last several decades, globalization trends have radically transformed education, at every level from primary schools to post graduate institutions of learning. This impact mirrors the transformative effects globalization has had on the wider economy and society.

    Globalization and American Education

    The challenge of globalization can be seen in an ever more interconnected and competitive economic and social world environment. Due to this, American students must be prepared to compete in a global, rather than local economy. With the growing interconnectedness of the business world, students and teachers alike now face the challenge of preparing for a career that will very likely include regular interaction with the international community.

    Globalization and the Challenge of Diversity

    The effects of globalization have also created an ever-increasing diversity in American schools. This has produced dramatic challenges in integrating differing cultures and languages into the school system. In fact, as the number of foreign and immigrant students increases, the challenge of effectively handling English as a second language (ESL) students will continue to increase. As an example of this, the number of ESL students expanded from 3.5 million students in 1998 to over 5.3 million students in 2009, an expansion of over 50 percent. The need to effectively educate these students remains one of the greatest challenges facing American schools in the era of globalization.

    Globalization and Social Assimilation

    Culturally, American education must work to effectively bridge gaps between students and their families alike and the educational system and community. Providing a friendly environment for students to adhere to their religious and social practices and beliefs without fear of harassment is rapidly becoming a vital challenge for American schools. It is only by successfully creating policies that can integrate foreign students and families into the educational experience that the full promise of globalization can be met.

    Globalization poses great challenges to American education, but by successfully adapting to the changes demanded by globalization, it will be possible to prepare students to effectively compete in an ever more multicultural and global economy.