Global Competency for AP World History

I am currently planning for my one section (yay!) of AP World History, which I haven’t taught since 2013-2014, and running through the various materials to make sense of everything. As I noted on my AP World blog over on Ricard Academy, this course is a bit of a monster and requires some wrangling to make sense of it.

After you get past the scope of the course (a history of the entire world!) you then have to sort through the stereo instructions that is the Course and Exam Description (CED) which is supposed to help you figure out how best to teach the course. Yeesh.

Yet, having gone through the Project Zero Classroom institute this summer, I can take a deep breath and apply some tools to simplify things. Reading the aforementioned blog post, you can see that I created my throughlines or overarching understanding goals from the CED’s disciplinary practices and reasoning skills (p. 9 of 2017 CED). That alone is going to save my life and help me transition from “busy” to “productive”.

At PZ, I was struck by the notion about “global competency” that Veronica Boix Mansilla was presenting on and attended her session. I wanted to get a handle on what it was so that I can look into applying it into my courses, namely AP Art History and AP World. I took her working definition and turned it into my first overarching goal, hoping to make it a primal focal point for both myself and my students in our study of the history of the world.

Boix Mansilla’s definition, once again was:

  • Global competence is the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.

What I really enjoyed about this definition is the focus on a disposition or development of a mind set. In today’s world, we need more awareness but we also need to temper our actions – or inaction. Most of today’s tension portrayed through the media lens is due to a lack of acknowledgement and a need for quick judgements formulated around labels. If we can not only be aware of what others are thinking and concerned about in other parts of the world, and acknowledge what they are thinking and feeling, we can take a step closer to diffusing any potential conflict. At least, its a working theory of mine.

To take it one step further, acknowledgement does not mean agreement. We should be able to make up our own minds despite the input of information. In other words, we need more listening and less talking at or about each other.

So, in order to help bring this awareness about, and develop this disposition towards global competency, I rephrased the definition into the following overarching understanding statement and question:

  • Am I globally competent?┬áStudents will develop the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.

By offering this constant opportunity for reflection, students can self-evaluate their growing state of global competency. When an important issue arises in today’s context, hopefully they will be able to apply it to their study of the past to help flesh out what is going on and then consider what the proper course of action will be.