Childhood development stages and learning on global issues

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Helpdesk Query:

Describe the childhood development stages; specifically, when is the best time to influence children’s and young people’s thinking on global issues?

Summary:

This helpdesk report provides a summary of available literature and evidence relating to childhood development stages; specifically, when is the best time to influence children’s thinking on global issues. This question is related to a second query covered in a separate helpdesk report that examines the development education landscape in the UK: specifically, what else apart from British Council’s Connecting Classrooms Programme is going on to build partnerships between schools in the UK and schools overseas? How many children/schools are part of something like this? These helpdesk reports are designed to help inform a business case and guide DFID’s thinking for a new approach to delivering development education in the UK when the current phases of Connecting Classrooms and the Global Learning Programme (GLP) ends. Key definitions and terminology can be found in Annex 1.

Childhood development theories and theories of learning are extensive and cannot be adequately covered in this short desk-based review; neither is the purpose to do so. However, it is acknowledged that child development stages relating to physical, cognitive, emotional and social development have a profound impact on learning and are thus closely related to the development of a global outlook and understanding.

Some of the most important research on childhood development related to global learning has been undertaken by Rowan Oberman and her colleagues in Ireland (Oberman et al., 2014; Oberman et al., 2012; Ruane et al, 2010). Their research suggested that introducing a global perspective into early childhood education, using open-ended and active methodologies, supports the development of global citizenship skills, attitudes and understanding. The programme was developed through three phases of research. The first phase examined young children’s engagement with global justice issues; the second phase explored possible strategies for including global citizenship education in early childhood educational settings; and the third phase tested a draft global citizenship education programme.

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