'A footprint means pressing down and global means world, so 'global footprint' means pressing down on the world and we don't want to press too hard' (child's definition of a Global Footprint)
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what about climate change?



Critical thinking


Adopting a critical thinking approach to learning means students are encouraged to question, think about the issues raised and to examine things from different perspectives. Unpacking global issues with a critical approach is not easy and will not produce easy answers or simple two-sided debates with a ‘winning’ side, but it will provide rich and compelling learning experiences.  



Many teachers use the tools and techniques of dialogue-based learning in order to promote critical thinking in the classroom.  These can include Philosophy 4 Children, Open Spaces for Dialogue and Enquiry and Mantle of the Expert.  Dialogue based learning requires teachers to facilitate a process of learning through talking, questioning and discussion. 


Critical engagement lies at the core of global learning and can help learners to:

  • Engage with complex local and global processes and diverse perspectives
  • Examine the origins and implications of their own and other people’s assumptions
  • Negotiate change, transform relationships and think independently and to make responsible and conscious choices about their own lives and how they affect the lives of others
  • Live with and learn from difference and conflict and to prevent conflict from escalating to aggression and violence
  • Establish ethical, responsible and caring relationships beyond their identity groups.  

The complexity, uncertainty and possibly controversial nature of global issues require teachers to engage in a particular way with their students, allowing for different perspectives and views on the issues under discussion, rather than a search for the ‘truth’.  Ideally teachers will create a space where students can unpack their own values, attitudes and beliefs and have the chance to think about the consequences.  This process is an exploratory one, where students can be encouraged to think again and change their minds or think things through and re-confirm their views, if appropriate.  Teachers can help to create the right atmosphere by modelling the approach, questioning and debating and changing their minds in the face of something they hadn’t thought of before. 




It is worth paying a little attention to the learning environment to make sessions more successful.  The room should be large enough to arrange students in a way that all the members of the discussion can see each other and achieve eye contact with whoever is speaking.  The group should also be able to hear each other clearly; therefore the acoustics of the environment need to be considered carefully.  The teacher can choose to be part of the discussions, but if s/he does there are things to be taken into account. 




Great care should be taken to avoid holding a privileged voice in the discussions, especially in terms of the weight placed on the teacher’s point of view.  Teachers will also need to take more of a facilitator role and to accept their view may be challenged by the group.  The aim of dialogue based learning sessions is not to find a consensus or a class motion, rather it is to discuss and air many points of view without necessarily agreeing with each other.  This process helps to build the skills of relating to difference, coping with uncertainty and changing one’s mind (where appropriate) in the face of new ideas.