Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Teaching strategies

Global education covers complex and controversial issues. This is a selection of teaching and learning approaches that develop knowledge and skills to respond to global issues.



Controversial issues


Fact and opinion

Intercultural understanding

Persuasive presentations

Simulation and online games




Thinking skills

Web 2.0 tools and apps





Freedom fighter or terrorist? Passionate or one-eyed? Passive resistance or civil uprising? Illegal arrival or asylum seeker?

The words used and our interpretation of images and statistics are an insight into our perspective or bias – our view of the world. Bias influences our attitudes and behaviours towards other people, places and issues. Our experiences, gender, age, class, religion and values all affect our bias. People who are passionate about an issue will generally be quite overt about their bias. People who want to promote a particular point of view may be less overt and more subtle in their use of words and images.

Global education aims to assist students to recognise bias, including their own, in written and visual texts, consider different points of view and make judgements about how bias can lead to discrimination and inequality.

Activities to help students understand bias:

  • Younger students might rewrite a well-known story from a different perspective – for example, Little Red Riding Hood rewritten from the perspective of the wolf.
  • Ask students to write individual reports of an event they have experienced. Compare their descriptions to show how different perspectives are evident in the use of words and the amount of emphasis placed on different parts of the event.
  • Create a display of photos of issues around the room. Ask students to move around and write their own captions. Use the captions to compare different perspectives.
  • Examine a number of advertising or opinion pieces about the same topic to see how language and images have been used. Identify the authors and their perspectives. Why might they think this way?
  • Have different groups read descriptions of international events from different newspapers around the world. Highlight facts in one colour and opinions in another. List the main issues or responses stated in the articles and compare these lists with other groups. How has the perspective been influenced by the source?


Cartoons are a great way to challenge thinking about an issue. The simple drawings with or without captions are packed with meaning and stir many responses. Cartoons capture new ideas through humour, satire and caricature, bringing together disparate ideas or symbols. Cartoons are often specific to a particular time and culture and can be misunderstood and cause offence outside that context.

Cartoons can be used in the global education classroom to:

  • stimulate interest and involve students across a range of literacy levels
  • challenge thinking on controversial topics
  • analyse historical or current issues
  • gauge understanding and attitudes
  • develop visual literacy.


Tell a story

  • Cut up the pictures and ask students to re-order the story. Make this more difficult and linguistically challenging by giving separate frames to each student in a group and asking them not to show the pictures until they have arrived at an order through describing them.
  • Remove the last picture of a cartoon and ask students to think of, or draw, an ending. Discuss the results.
  • Remove the captions and ask students to match them to each cartoon or write the sentences that tell the story.

Interpret an issue
Answer questions such as:

  • What is shown in the cartoon?
  • What does it mean?
  • Who or what are the characters?
  • How do you respond to the cartoon?

Compare the points of view shown in a number of cartoons on a similar issue.

Express ideas
Write captions or speech bubbles for cartoons by replacing the existing ones to give a different interpretation.
Draw cartoons, developing a character through simple line drawings and a repertoire of symbols. 

Useful website
The Australian Cartooning School

Controversial issues

A controversial issue is one in which there are competing beliefs, cultural practices, values and interests; strong disagreements and emotions; and potential political sensitivity. It is sometimes referred to as a ‘hot button issue'. Teachers can be wary of topics that invoke controversy, with concerns that they may lack the requisite knowledge or adequate curriculum time, or that they may create classroom conflict.

Teaching with a global perspective inevitably involves confronting controversial issues, events or attitudes. Engaging with complex and potentially divisive issues enables students to build skills in four of the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum: Critical and Creative Thinking; Personal and Social Capability; Intercultural Understanding and Ethical Understanding. Such engagement strengthens skills in debate, listening, problem solving, evaluating evidence, and in working with empathy and understanding.

Strategies that extend students’ thinking beyond entrenched viewpoints include the following:

  • Establish ground rules – How may students make contributions? What behaviour will not be tolerated? What will the class do when students disagree? What should students do if they feel disrespected?
  • Ensure that the context for a controversial policy or event is clearly understood. Where students have no knowledge of a specific context, they will assume that their own local context applies.
  • Use a range of credible resources that cover a multitude of viewpoints.
  • Challenge students to identify the underlying values or assumptions in persuasive statements. Uncover the root of the controversy. Appreciate the magnitude of the issue’s complexity.
  • Concentrate on evidence – personal evidence or research evidence. Draw in external expertise where appropriate. Encourage students to research an issue or survey others for their opinions.
  • Know yourself. Be mindful of how your own feelings and biases can skew your treatment of an issue.

Useful websites

  • Teaching Controversial Issues has a four-point demystification strategy for teaching.
  • Teaching Controversial Issues, Flinders University, has four sections covering ground rules; moderating 'classroom incivilities'; moderating overreaction to criticism; and addressing negative thinking and strong emotions.
  • 10-Point Model for Teaching Controversial Issues is aimed at early years students 
  • Diversity

    Identity and cultural diversity is one of the five learning emphases of global education, and is inherent in values education, civics and citizenship education and higher order thinking in the curriculum. It is particularly valued in the Australian Curriculum through Intercultural Understanding, which is one of the seven general capabilities.

    Diversity brings great richness of ideas, behaviours and attitudes, but we must learn to value this in order to live in harmony together. We are enriched by learning about different ways of seeing, thinking and doing, but sometimes we can also be challenged by ideas or behaviours that are outside the mainstream. See Controversial issues (above) for some strategies.

    In classrooms where diversity is valued, many opinions are heard and a wide range of resources, featuring people from around the world, are used. Class members use language carefully, avoiding bias and stereotypes, work to understand the thinking behind different points of view and speak out against discrimination. Curiosity about difference is fostered, and students are exposed to a range of viewpoints and provided with effective strategies to explore difference.

    Some questions to help explore our own biases and assumptions:

    • Do we use inclusive language? (Consider when you use the words 'we', 'us', 'them' and how people are positioned in relation to these words.)
    • How do we respond to contributions we do not understand?
    • Do we use resources that reflect diverse cultures and opinions?
    • Are we actively learning about alternative cultures and ideas?
    • Do we refer to cultures (eg from Asia) as one entity and 'the West', or 'the rest of the world' as the only other entity?
    • Do we use a range of resources: eg those of other cultures, as well as resources that reflect the perspectives of Australians?
    • Do we avoid constructing a 'right' or 'wrong' picture of a particular culture?

    Useful websites

    • Making Multicultural Australia offers an extensive selection of audio, videos, images and timeline materials relating to cultural diversity. There are lesson plans for years 3–10 for a range of learning areas.
    • Racism. No Way aims to assist school communities to recognise and address racism, with materials for teachers and students.
    • Harmony Day provides lesson plans and materials to support the celebration of Harmony Day on 21 March.
    • Voices of Australia features a collection of personal stories about Australians living together. The material was gathered to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Racial Discrimination Act. It includes teaching and learning activities exploring family history and experiences of diversity, discrimination, race relations, friendships and signs of respect.
    • Developing Intercultural Understanding is a professional learning package by Asia Education Foundation's designed to develop participants' knowledge of this focus within the context of studies of Asia in English, languages, SOSE and the arts.
    • Fact and opinion

      Much of what we read and view is a mixture of fact and opinion. Distinguishing between them is important for evaluating texts and developing persuasive arguments as we become active global citizens and build a better world.  

      A fact can be proven and is real for all people. For example, 'Educating girls helps people escape poverty' is a fact, as evidence can be gathered that shows that for girls, extra years of basic education improves employment opportunities, increases marriage age and improves their health and the health of their children. 'All girls should help their families' is a person's or group's opinion, belief, judgement or feeling and cannot be proven true. 

      The ability to determining facts from opinions is an important Literacy and Numeracy general capability across all learning areas in the Australian Curriculum.

      Activities to help distinguish between fact and opinion:

      • Read an article or view a report and identify statements that are facts and ones that are opinions.
      • Turn a fact into an opinion (one that you agree with and one that you disagree with).
      • Identify a fact that could support an opinion.
      • Write three facts and three opinions about a chosen topic.
      • Intercultural understanding

        Intercultural understanding starts by becoming more aware of our own culture and learning about other cultures so there can be real engagement, sharing and learning together.

        Intercultural Understanding is one of the seven general capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. The Intercultural Understanding learning continuum is organised into three interrelated organising elements:

        • Recognising culture and developing respect
        • Interacting and empathising with others
        • Reflecting on intercultural experiences and taking responsibility.

        Intercultural understanding involves clarifying our own values, attitudes and beliefs, and developing a spirit of openness and a valuing of diversity. It is built on respectful relationships, which take time to develop, and learning to understand what is important and what is offensive. It involves being comfortable with difference, awareness of our own biases, prejudices and perspectives and the avoidance of language which may be exclusive or insulting.

        Learning a language assists in developing intercultural understanding. It is not only a means of improved communication, but more importantly it plays a key role in promoting global understanding and respect for cultural diversity.

        These guidelines suggest ways to help develop intercultural understanding:

        • Develop sensitive and effective communication skills: use inclusive language and foster negotiation skills to achieve fair outcomes when there are diverse points of view. Persuade people to address prejudice, racism and discrimination.
        • Use resources that present different perspectives, authentic voices and adequate contextual knowledge.
        • Include aspects of culture that are beyond the visible – values, attitudes and beliefs.
        • Develop understandings of human rights and acknowledge that the community will have diverse views and may not value the views of others.
        • Use a critical literacy approach that challenges stereotypes and considers questions such as 'Who has created this text?', 'Whose voice is present/missing?', 'Which culture is positioned favourably in terms of the questions being asked?', 'Which is positioned as being "normal"?'
        • Reflect critically on your own attitudes, beliefs and values and learn to build bridges from one culture to another.
        • Foster engagement with people of diverse backgrounds.

        See also: Bias and Stereotypes strategies

        Persuasive presentations

        The heart of global education is creating global citizens who are active in shaping a better world for all. This may often involve writing or presenting arguments to persuade readers or listeners to change their ideas and behaviours. To do this, students need to have a good understanding of particular issues and the various perspectives other people may have on them. Students need to know how to present a strongly argued case to convince readers or listeners to consider the points rather than dismiss them.

        Engage the audience with stories, humour, emotive language, repetition and short sentences. Be aware of their knowledge and possible perspectives so you can connect with them and convince them. Develop the argument with clear reasoning supported by evidence such as statistics, expert opinion, facts, and witness statements, and present alternative perspectives on problems. Conclude with a summary of the argument and an appeal or a challenge.

        The ability to plan and deliver persuasive presentations is an important Literacy and Numeracy general capability across all learning areas in the Australian Curriculum.

        Activities to develop persuasive presentations:

        • Classify picture story books as informative or persuasive.
        • Examine