Celebrating Holidays, Building Critical Literacy and Developing Global Competence

‘Tis the season to celebrate! While holidays are commonly used to introduce history, geography, national heroes and culture from around the world, they also present an opportunity to build critical literacy and develop global competence.  Below are a few steps to include holidays and celebrations to develop skills that extend beyond the classroom.


image1According to the Public School Review, the student population in North Carolina is one of the most diverse in the nation.  Without intentionality some students’ lived experiences may not be affirmed in the classroom. Learning from your students allows them to be active participants in the classroom.  This is an opportunity to place them in the driver seat and to help facilitate a culture of care. With information about your students, you can begin to create connections and find an entry point into a globally significant theme or issue (spoiler alert, its #2).  Race, ethnicity, geographic location, and religion are all important characteristics, but it also important to go deeper and to find out what your students care about and why.

  • What is going on in their community?
  • What do they celebrate and value? How do they demonstrate this? Are these practices and values a part of the dominant narrative or are they marginalized?  Why?

No need to wait until November to start this conversation.  This is an activity that you can introduce at the beginning of the year and then build upon throughout out the year to identify ways to include your students.


image2This time of year students often participate in Thanksgiving feasts or celebrate Christmas around the world.  Though, well-intentioned, these activities are limited.  They can exclude students and do not allow an opportunity to go beyond the surface.  Instead, identify a globally-significant theme or issue that you can link to your students and their communities. One of the dispositions of globally competent students is empathy, by discussing issues that are of global and local significance students are more likely to develop a personal connection.


image3Even though there are multiple sides to every story, some narratives are dominant while others are marginalized. As you share your globally-significant theme or issue, whose story are you sharing?  Whose story is missing?  Single stories are dangerous and can lead to essentializing and othering experiences.  The goal is to prepare student to contribute to a more peaceful, inclusive, secure, and equitable world.


image4Holidays and celebrations happen throughout the year, do not limit your inclusion to only November and December. Remember that not all countries have four seasons. This is a great time to help student learn this concept.

Globally competent educators contribute to a more peaceful, inclusive, secure, and equitable world and they also equip their students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be global citizens in an interconnected and diverse world.  How are you contributing to the development global citizens?


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Teaching Tolerance – Religious Holidays and Inclusive Curriculum

Public Policy