The Best of Both Worlds: Localizing Education In A Globalized World
Updated: Apr 19, 2021
Home truly is where your child’s story begins. Growing up, learners gain countless insights, experiences, and knowledge frameworks from their communities. And at META, we never ask students to leave local insights behind in the classroom. Instead, we value and welcome each learner’s unique perspective by inviting them to deepen their engagement with their home community’s issues.
That's why we dedicate specific times of the year for students to pursue autonomous learning at home with the accompaniment of our staff. META's digital learning periods inspire your child to become an independent investigator, engage with salient 21st-century issues, and connect with others in new ways.
Every few months, META explorers are tasked with learning independently in their home environments. This means reaching project milestones and sharing evidence of their work in a digital learning management system (LMS), with the support of mentors, counselors, educators, and technical experts. Our LMS is the place where all the learning comes alive during the local terms, including group projects with global peers, forums to share and respond to captivating information, and mediums for lively online discussions.
Though they remain connected with educators, META students discover the value of autonomous learning: they become self-aware, find purpose in what they do, and can monitor their own progress, reflecting on their strategic choices and setting goals to improve their project. In other words, digital learning periods allow META learners to find meaning in their work and to take responsibility for it.
Real Life, Real Learning
During META’s local implementation semesters, students get to investigate the links between their communities’ issues and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Let’s take climate change as an example. Stephen Sheppard, in “Visualizing Climate Change”, notes that footage of polar bears drifting through the Arctic is irrelevant to most people, because most people don’t live in the Arctic. Instead, Sheppard highlights that we must improve local climate literacy, “to put the message in the local context of each audience, to make it relevant.” That means learning to see climate change as soggy football fields on Sunday mornings, or increased meat prices at the local Deli.
Similarly, META learners are expected to tackle real-life topics of their choice — at home — to cultivate evidence-based, localized, and pioneering perspectives. Students then track their findings through our digital LMS and obtain helpful feedback from their facilitators. Ultimately, META learners develop concrete, applicable, and localized solutions for global issues through self-directed learning.
Building Those Bridges
At META, our students bring together complex knowledge frameworks and connect them to their local environment, all while bonding with fellow learners and project experts. You might be wondering: Who are these project experts? Well, it’s up to your child to find out! Within META, we’re well aware that our facilitators are specialists in education, not thorny localized issues. That’s why we equip learners with the skillset necessary to reach out to thought leaders they don’t know.
We want our students to feel comfortable emailing a professional to say something like, “Hi, I’ve encountered this dilemma here in New Jersey, USA, and I need to connect with a local congressman to learn more about the data behind this issue.” We want META learners to have the confidence and social savvy necessary to say, “Hey, I’m in Singapore and I’m trying to understand this key aspect of water pollution in my hometown. Could you help me out with that?”
At META, we teach our explorers how to write a great email, how to follow up to replies with poignant questions and relevant commentary, and how to showcase their own skills while learning from experts. In time, we ensure that our students find the right people to help them along their way, whether that be their parents, a LinkedIn connection, or a community stakeholder discovered through web research.
A Final Note
META’s localized learning terms not only allow students to engage with the UN’s sustainable development goals within their home environment, but they also facilitate increased community support. Leaving home for one of our global learning semesters, your child can then bond with their peers on a deeper level, asking questions like, “How did that project go for you in Singapore? This is what I learned at home in New Jersey. And now we’re here in Iceland, and we’re exploring what we can do together.” Students can dig deeper into their discoveries abroad because they have an incredible local experience to build onto.
Even as they’re learning independently at home about real-life problems, we make sure that META students are supported by staff, peers, and networking contacts to help them overcome personal roadblocks.
→ In our next blog piece, we explore META's remote learning periods, digging deeper into the benefits of flexible learning, self-management, and purposeful assignments.