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The Value of Global Perspectives.

by Orlaith Louise Carlin on the 06/09/2018

Orla Carlin is a Sociology and Criminology graduate from Queens University Belfast. After achieving a 2.1 classification in her Bachelors she decided to embark on a PGCE at Edge University in Liverpool so that she could teach Sociology and English as a second language to international students abroad.  Orla has been teaching in the Middle East for the last 4 years and is extremely passionate about social issues and word development as a result of living in such diverse environments.  After becoming an assistant examiner for Cambridge AS Level Global Perspectives she is now ready to promote this subject as one that should be offered as a subject in every school.  Orla enjoys travel writing having visited 35 countries to date and frequently writes about her experiences.  In her free time, she likes to Scuba dive, run, participate in theatre and play rugby.  Orla hopes to return to Kenya one day; now her favourite country after being inspired by the people of Kenya while meeting the Masai Mara tribe this year. 

After recently qualifying as a Cambridge examiner for the newly introduced subject of Global Perspectives on the British International school system and going through the curriculum with a fine tooth comb, it came to my attention how critical this subject is. Teaching abroad for five years I realised how global our children are; daily social and development issues hit us all hard but at different rates.  The many topics that are covered in this subject, from education, technology, economics, philosophy, health care and more, are taught through a global lens and that can help Irish students to be more critical and developed in their thinking.  

The first topic explored was about robots that are working in care homes in Japan, dancing, playing games, and communicating in a multitude of ways with elderly people. My initial reaction to this was ''Wow this is shocking, cruel, unethical and just wrong''. And I am still in the halfway house on this topic. Yet after discussions with my peers, we all as adults working abroad in the area of education were all totally unaware of this. It came to my attention that whether or not we agreed with it, it is important to know about it so that we could either promote it in Ireland or help prevent it from happening. Either way, it is a topic that could benefit the youngsters of today and indeed society as a whole in looking for alternative solutions to the issues we face.  

After returning to Ireland to visit an elderly grandparent, who is not mobile, in a nursing home, I was disheartened at the lack of communication and contact within her life. There was one care assistant watching 14 elderly people in one large room and a TV that was so far away they could not see it.  On no occasion was there any volunteers to sing, dance or coordinate activities with the elderly. I couldn’t help but think of the topic in a different light and wonder at the back of my mind if a robot to assist these elderly people would actually bring them some sort of joy? My initial misgivings were questioned as I witnessed the situation within our nursing homes today and the situation for my dear grandmother.

In Tokyo's Shintomi nursing home 20 different models are now in use for its residents. The Japanese government is further promoting development in this area. Within Shintomi's nursing home there has been a recorded boost of morale among residents with robots assisting with power, mobility and monitoring. Although time will only tell the future of this area and the jury is still out on issues surrounding cost-effectiveness and lack of human contact, it nonetheless shows an alternative solution undertaken by the Japanese government to a lack of labour problem faced in their society. As I sat there in the nursing home in Belfast with my grandmother, I mulled this over in my mind wondering how long it would be before our Irish government jumped on board? Would they ever? Has it even become part of dialogue yet on our shores?

Last month, I interviewed for a job in Texas and after researching the school for my interview preparation, I realised how different education can be globally. Instead of having classrooms they have learning neighbourhoods. I was gobsmacked but thrilled at possibly working in a place that took such a kinesthetic and humanistic approach to teaching. I believe Global Perspectives in these areas are needed in order to allow our youngsters an opportunity to broaden their understanding of how the world works and how some areas of development vary from place to place and how we can learn different solutions to how different societies approach issues.

Global Perspectives is a subject taken on the British International school system but not in our current system in Ireland? Surely this is important if we want our future leaders to be the best they can be on a global scale.


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