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Book Review – “Education Around the Globe: Creating Opportunities and Transforming Lives”

Blog entry by Kyra Velock

Based on Co-authored Book Review by Victoria Cattelona & Jiwon Kim

On September 6, 2021, Dr. Jiwon Kim and Monmouth University alumna, Victoria Cattelona (B.A., 2021; M.A.T., 2021), co-authored a book review titled, “Education Around the Globe: Creating Opportunities and Transforming Lives.” Dr. Kim and Ms. Cattelona highlighted key themes from each of the eight chapters in this publication, which addresses practical strategies that educators and researchers can implement to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This book discusses historical, social, political, and cultural experiences in education from many different parts of the world, generating diverse insight and perspectives.

The journal, Teachers College Record of Columbia University, first reached out to Dr. Kim to write a review on some recently published books in the field of global understanding and education. Dr. Kim decided to write the review on “Education Around the Globe: Creating Opportunities and Transforming Lives” because the UN Sustainable Development Goals reflect her passion for researching educational practices. She invited Ms. Cattelona, a former IGU graduate assistant, to co-author this book review as it also aligned with Cattelona’s passion for sustainable education practices. In particular, they wanted to inform educators and researchers on how to achieve sustainability in or through education (SDG 4) through this book review.

“Education gives us the power to question authority, to challenge the status quo,” explains Ms. Cattelona. During her previous academic year while student teaching, Cattelona screened Malala Yousafzai’s, He Named Me Malala, for students in her World History course. She discussed with her students how the Taliban in the 1990s restricted girls’ educational access, and threatened to do so again in Pakistan. Restricting access and content facilitates opportunities for oppressive institutions to wield power and influence over certain groups of people. Cattelona believes education can be used as a political tool. Limited access to public education in areas of the world, such as Pakistan, hinders vulnerable groups’ ability to fight for justice and equal rights.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Cattelona does not believe the UN or any entity can fully implement the SDGs by 2030. Because COVID-19 triggered a major setback for most educational systems around the world, it is unlikely that these systems can adopt the necessary changes identified in the SDGs within the next decade. However, she believes the pandemic may encourage policymakers and educators to consider equitable and sustainable means of instructional delivery more thoughtfully than before. She goes on to note that, “If anything, I believe many leaders are focused on stopping the bleeding in the short term. Perhaps reframing the problems and solutions in economic terms will capture leaders’ attention.” Focusing on the short-term issues that educational systems are confronting due to the pandemic is only half of the answer, and it is necessary to encourage leaders to develop more long-term sustainable resolutions.

Cattelona discusses the importance of participation from all stakeholders –s students, teachers, parents, administrators, and taxpayers – in seeking to reform the public education system and fulfill the SDGs. Cattelona described the vicious cycle that occurs when educational systems do not get receive adequate funding. Underpaid teachers work overtime to engage with students, students do not retain as much information and therefore earn poor grades, parents are frustrated with students, administrators face bureaucratic challenges, and taxpayers see little incentive to support underperforming public schools, which in turn drives down property values.

Educating youth is a globally shared responsibility – it is not just for those who decide to pursue a career in education. Cattelona mentions how her former high school building has a quote from Ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes above the auditorium stage that reads: “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” This requires educators to invest in the younger generations as they will soon become the leaders of the future.

Co-authored Book Review by Victoria Cattelona & Jiwon Kim