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ERIC Number: EJ1150969
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1838-0689
Growing Global Citizens: Young Children's Lived Experiences with the Development of Their Own Social World
Twigg, Danielle; Pendergast, Donna; Twigg, Justin
International Research in Early Childhood Education, v6 n1 p79-91 2015
As the result of an increasingly technologically "connected" world, citizens are finding it difficult to effectively exercise civic responsibilities in relation to global issues such as climate change, poverty, and warfare (Tully, 2009). New understandings of the concept of "citizenship" are being extended beyond traditional views of country, continent or region to inform the development of "global citizenship." In an attempt to develop a definition for this concept, UK OXFAM (1997, p.1) suggested more than a decade ago now that a 'global citizen' is someone who: (1) is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen; (2) respects and values diversity; (3) has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally; (4) is outraged by social injustice; (5) is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place; and (6) participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from the local to the global. Constructions of childhood, early childhood education practices, and approaches to early childhood education all lead to understandings about the "child as citizen." Children in classrooms around the world are engaged in learning which focuses on civic responsibility, including many of the aforementioned characteristics of a global citizen, from a very young age. However, the notion of young children being global citizens is new and somewhat intriguing; given childhood experiences often focus on the near environment of home, family and a limited range of settings in which they interact. Existing research indicates that education about global citizenship and social responsibility is a key element to an effective early years education program which may contribute to a child's level of civic engagement as a young adult and beyond (France, Freiburg, & Homel, 2010; Moss, 2006; Rogoff, 2003). However, previous research has not focused on uncovering the lived experiences of young children in relation to global citizenship. Therefore, studies of young children's lived experiences as global citizens have the potential to provide a significant contribution to the existing literature in early childhood education, as well as the areas of democracy, social rights and distributive justice. Currently in Australia, children enrolled in pre-school education settings are exposed to social and emotional learning and development opportunities as part of the early childhood education and care policy reform agenda (National Quality Framework). This is promoted through the implementation of a federal government policy framework, Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for the Council of Australian Governments, 2009) also known as the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). Underpinning this, an investigation into young children's experiences as 'active and informed citizens' addresses Goal 2 of the Melbourne Declaration on the Educational Goals for Young Australians (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA), 2008, p. 10), that is, that "[A]ll young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens". This paper presents findings from an Australian study undertaken in 2012 using Giorgi's (1985) approach to seek a range of children's viewpoints by capturing lived experiences (Twigg, 2011). Data from the study reveal a number of essential themes related to the phenomenon of young children's lived experiences as global citizens. For this paper, five of the essential themes reflecting the general descriptions of the phenomenon under investigation will be explored, these being that: (1) children's social experiences are important and memorable; (2) children are cognizant of differences and similarities between people living in various countries around the world; (3) children make thoughtful decisions about friendship based on social behavior; (4) children are experienced technological users who are aware of safety rules; and (5) children act as informed consumers who make judgments about sharing, spending or saving resources, such as money. In addition to the presentation of findings from the study, this paper considers how global citizenship can be cultivated in a range of early years settings more broadly. Literature on children's rights and global citizenship in the early years is provided. Examples from the study participants are used to articulate different approaches to global citizenry in the Age of Technology (Bahr & Pendergast, 2007) for young children. The paper concludes with a summary and musings on "effective membership" for consideration.
Monash University Faculty of Education. McMahons Road, Frankston, Victoria, Australia 3199. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A