Global Education in Hong Kong, New York and Singapore

Global education (GE) is a curriculum approach that aims to expand students’ global awareness and develop skills and values to participate in an interconnected world (Hicks, 2003). As is the nature of curriculum, GE is subject to ideological perspectives that wield powerful implications on curricular intentions, schools’ roles in society, and teacher pedagogy (Apple, 2001). Since the start of the 21st century, GE scholarship has noted the ascendance of curricular ideologies with differing constructions of students’ roles in a globalized world. On one extreme, policies, discourses, and school curricula define students as nationalistic workers who are prepared for competition in the global economy, and on the other, as global citizens who consider public issues through frameworks of human rights (Parker & Camicia, 2009).


As enactors of curriculum, GE teachers are positioned at the center of these divergent perspectives. Yet, few studies describe teachers’ understanding of GE and how they mitigate conflicting agendas in their classroom instruction (Zong, Wilson, & Quashiga, 2008). Because of the positioning of GE teachers in this ideological landscape, this project will investigate their conceptions about GE teaching, their actual teaching, and the societal and institutional contexts in which teaching occurs. The purpose is to examine how teachers reconcile their conceptions and curriculum expectations in their instruction and to describe hindering and supportive contextual factors. The proposed investigation informs current scholarship by focusing on Hong Kong, New York, and Singapore, global cities (Sassen, 2002) where policies encourage global curriculum innovations, but where teaching and schooling are situated within nationalistic, utilitarian societal discourses regarding students’ future global roles.


To maximize variability in the project, in these jurisdictions we will attend to GE teachers in local schools operating within national directives and international schools that are often overlooked in GE literature. In this qualitative investigation, interpretive and comparative perspectives will guide analysis of data from policy and curriculum documents, interviews with school practitioners, and classroom observations. Multi-level techniques (Bray & Thomas, 1995) and triangulated data will provide the basis for creating city- and school-level profiles that describe the intersection of teachers’ instruction and curriculum expectations for students’ roles in the world. Employing comparative case study approaches (Stake, 2005), we aim to illuminate the ideologies embedded in local and international schoolteachers’ conceptions of GE and contextual factors that constrain and promote their instruction, thus serving as the basis of localized theories (Schwab, 1969) to inform international scholarship, teacher education, and GE practice.