Harvard education expert Fernando Reimers calls for a global curriculum that educates global citizens

Fernando Reimers, expert in educational innovation from Harvard Graduate School of Education, has presented today the results of the Harvard University Global Education Innovation Initiative at the University Camilo José Cela Almagro building. At the chat, organised together with the specialised magazine Magisterio, focussed on the need to create a global curriculum for students, as well as the fundamental role that teachers have in its construction.

In her introductory address Nieves Segovia, President of SEK Education Group, said that “he is one of the leading lights in international education” and that “he has a very progressive view of the future of education. And, he puts his ideas in practice.”

In his presentation, Reimers said that, in a world in constant and dizzying change, education must consider how to educate students for this incessant adaptation, and has shown the main lines of research carried out, such as a comparative study of teaching development programmes in Chile, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Singapore and the United States. The findings of this study are featured in his book Preparing Teachers to Educate Whole Students.

Reimers has demanded greater efforts to encourage respect and tolerance for diversity in the classroom. “The first step for making a better world is to imagine a better future”, he asserted, when referring to the skills that should be taught in modern syllabuses. The expert pointed out that we must go beyond conventional syllabus content, in terms of the skills and abilities students will learn, because “if we want someone to learn something, we must offer them the opportunity to learn it.”

Regarding this commitment to listening and tolerance, Reimers has advocated for a global curriculum, which focuses the learning objectives of the two documents on which there is a general consensus and have overall democratic support: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, “with its aspiration to be cosmopolitan and neutral,” and the Sustainable Development Goals, because “part of the task of education is to understand the universality of certain aspects of culture” and because “climate change is one of the greatest emergencies we have in this world,” according to the professor at Harvard University.

The expert has ensured that it is necessary to train teachers, as well as giving them opportunities to organise themselves in networks and thus multiply opportunities for students to access knowledge. “With this study we have concluded that, as educational expectations increase, teacher training also increases”, and regarding the participation of specialists from other fields in the educational field, he pointed out that “it is very difficult to teach innovation if the teacher does not understand innovation”.

Objective: prepare students for a society in constant evolution

The Global Education Innovation Initiative is a line of research and collaborative study led by Professor Reimers, with the aim of bolstering public education, so that schools can better prepare their students with the necessary skills to participate civically and economically in societies that are constantly changing and evolving as a result of technological advances and globalization.

Professor Reimers gave training workshops to teachers from the SEK Education Group, and in the afternoon, presented at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Organisation of Ibero-American States the book “Letters to a new minister of Education”, in which he outlined the six keys and challenges to ensure the educational system is able to maximize the abilities of students, also taking into account group abilities. “We need to change the institutions of the 19th century, which we still have in our society, and adapt them to the 21st century,” said Fernando Reimers. The Harvard professor concluded the event with a colloquium with attendees in which the strengths of the different educational systems in the world were discussed.