Discovering that I am a citizen of the world
An educational adventure. SDG 4
- Miguel Angel Velasco cmf
- Doctor in Educational Sciences
- Licentiate in Systematic Theology
- Master in Development and Diplomacy
At this point in April, after the Holy Week of the year 2023, I am concluding my teaching as a teacher of Religion in the second year of high school at the Claret School in Madrid. I was asked in September 2022 to take charge of this educational adventure with 17 and 18 years old students in the year before university. During the three previous years, I was part of the Claretian Missionary Team at the United Nations, the last of which was spent in New York around the UN headquarters in that city. This article presents the teaching-learning experience of the 2022-2023 academic year.
Approach to the experience
The second year of Bachillerato at the Claret in Madrid has, in the academic year 2022-2023, two sections of Science, two of Letters, and one of Arts; the diversity of student interests was assured. In the current Spanish educational regulation of the Community of Madrid, the subject of Religion is allotted one hour per week, with an academic qualification, but without incidence in the grade of access to the university. According to the curriculum approved by the Spanish Episcopal Conference, the subject of Religion in the second year of high school must focus on the responsibility and commitment of Catholic believers in society.
I wanted to offer the students of the second year of Bachillerato a curricular development of Religion, which combines my experience in the United Nations with the social commitment of Catholics. It was an opportunity to open the sophomores to consider the problems of our global world and how Catholics must collaborate to improve it. The course title was: “World Citizens: Engaged in Building a Better World.”
The evolutionary moment they are in and the global moment we are in.
Introducing a group of students at the end of adolescence, defined by the search for personal and group identity, to global issues takes work. More than at other times, their interests are focused on developing their personal history, on what they live, feel, and want, related primarily to their immediate environment. So why introduce issues such as Global Citizenship into the teaching curriculum? The answer is simple: they will begin a stage in their lives, at university and at work, in which their minds and life experiences will open up to the international, to the “global.”
It is not just that their small world of interpersonal relationships will be overwhelmed by a massive amount of university-related news, but that they will open up to the world, properly speaking. International connections are becoming ever closer in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. Students must leave school with an initial preparation for what is to come; they must also be aware that they must be protagonists of the changes toward a better world. This approach has to be lived from the Christian commitment to the transforming action of reality; the Social Doctrine of the Church is an excellent guide for this type of Christian commitment, specifically the encyclicals Laudato Si and Fratelli Tutti by Pope Francis.
Objectives, development, and contents
The objectives of the course concerning the students were:
- – To open them to the complex reality of global international relations.
- – To present the primary responses that the international community has given in the search to build a more just and peaceful world.
- – To present the answers that, from the religions, especially from the Christian-Catholic one, have been given to build a more fraternal world.
- – To offer a set of approaches, projects, and organizations from which to collaborate with people of other faiths, confessions, and ideologies to construct a better world.
- – To present the urgency, from their faith, of feeling and being effectively responsible citizens in constructing a peaceful, fairer, and more fraternal world.
In the first trimester, practically half of the course sessions were devoted to building a frame of reference to introduce the right and wrong answers that international society has given in the last two centuries. The format was expository lectures based on PowerPoint presentations, videos, and student dialogue. I took the 20th century as a basis for reflection because this century has left us a vibrant heritage of successes, mistakes, institutions, documents, projects, and institutions. We approached the second part of the course with the study and presentation by groups of the 2030 Agenda following the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) groupings corresponding to Person, Planet, Progress, Peace, and Partnership. The role of religions and the Catholic orientations on the commitment to a world in peace and fraternity were presented as monographic topics or by making references and concrete applications to the issues discussed.
The didactic materials were videos, PowerPoint presentations, written articles, official texts of the United Nations, Agenda 2030, Human Rights, Laudato Si, Fratelli Tutti, and Vatican II.
Students were evaluated through individual and group written work and through the presentations made by the working groups created for this purpose.
The content blocks were as follows:
- Analysis of the international reality.
- – The challenges of the world today
- – Historical roots of the current situation in the twentieth century.
- – Possible responses to the challenges
- Response of the Church in the 21st Century
- – Encyclical Laudato Si
- – Encyclical Fratelli Tutti
- Global responses to global challenges
- – The Second Vatican Council
- – The United Nations
- – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- – 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
- o People
- o Planet
- o Progress
- o Peace and institutions
- o Partnership
Conclusion and evaluation
We had about 25 sessions of Religion: “Citizens of the World” during this academic year. There have been about 150 students in five sections, each of which has been diverse in terms of their high school choices and the human component of each group. Those of you who have been or are currently teachers know well what I am referring to. Each of the groups has followed, to some extent, its path. In each group, the teacher, in this case, me, has had to adapt the content and the form to the interests and type of students; on many occasions, it has had to be very personalized attention. The evaluation, therefore, is an “average impression” of what has been achieved concerning the objectives.
I have repeatedly repeated to the students that I intend to engrave in their minds that, as Catholic believers, we have to feel God’s call to commit ourselves and others to construct a more just and fraternal world. Sometimes, when we use “commitment to the world,” we mean a commitment to the “near world.” After these 25 sessions, I believe the students understand that the expression “the world” refers to the 8 billion people of humanity in 2023, all the countries of planet earth, all religions, and all governmental and civil society organizations. Especially lay Catholics are called to participate in this incredible adventure of making this planet more livable and creating a family. The students of the second year of high school at the Claret of Madrid, in the 2022-2023 course, will not achieve this goal, but it is essential to know that they are part of that group of people who, following Jesus, Way, Truth, and Life, want to make it possible.
Miguel Angel Velasco cmf