Globalisation and Localisation

The pandemic, in my eyes, has very much helped globalisation in relation to education.   We particularly saw teacher influencers or teacher content creators, etc sharing their ideas and resources with large numbers of teachers and even larger numbers of students.    Their resources helped many continue teaching and learning through the lockdown periods while face to face teaching and learning was impossible.    They represented the opportunity for a few people to put together resources and lessons which could then be consumed by the masses across the world.

But, if we accept most things work in balance, what might we be losing out on where we push more towards this globalised approach?

The thing about the content being pushed out is that it had to be able to be used across the world, and in doing so it needed to be independent of the differing contexts in different parts of the world.   If we accept that the best learning experiences don’t exist in a vacuum, and that they need some context, something in the real world to link them to, we realise that something designed for a school in the UAE would be different to something in the UK which in turn would be different to something designed with China in mind.    And this challenge isnt limited to national level, it also exists more locally at regional level or even smaller.    I remember as a young teacher seeing differences in language and viewpoints when moving between teaching in a school on the outskirts of Glasgow and one in Stirling, approx. 25 miles away.

So, these global resources either must relate to universal truths which are true across contexts, need to include their own context, or involve abstraction of the concepts being covered to a point where context is less consequential.    

What we are losing here, is the local learning and the local context.    The things that make us a Glaswegian in my case, as things are not being taught within the local context, within the framework of the local community, habits, traditions, etc.    The learning is not being linked to my local community.  Now this might be a good thing as more and more people migrate away from where they are born, including emigrating to work in other countries however I believe it also could have a negative impact on students as they may not develop their individual identity in the way they might have in the past.   

This also links nicely to educational research.   Where we look for generalisable, global solutions which have the research backing to show they tend to work anywhere and have a replicable impact, are we losing out on solutions and approaches which might simply work in our local context, in our school or even in our own classroom?

If I am being honest, we cannot approach this problem as a binary.   Although my discussion has approached the issue as a binary, globalisation or localisation, you will notice my title is “globalisation AND localisation.”    We need to have a balance of both, making use of resources, ideas, etc which work at a high level, on the global education stage, while also making use of things, or customising things to fit with our local context. 

If anything, I worry that maybe we are increasingly focussing less on the local context, local solutions, at a time where maybe there are solutions to some of our global problems to be found there.


Author: Gary Henderson

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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