How international schools are fostering global mindedness

In such a fast-changing world, schools are having to not only educate their students, but also prepare them for the challenges of a global career and an increasingly digital workplace. Georgina Probert looks at how schools are enabling the next generation of global leaders.

According to the Oxford dictionary, the term 'global mindedness' refers to the ability of individuals to understand the world in which they live and how they fit into that world, as well as to their willingness to take action on global issues. While the International Baccalaureate (IB) describes the phrase 'international mindedness' as "a view of the world in which people see themselves connected to the global community and assume a sense of responsibility to its members. It is an awareness of the inter-relatedness of all nations and peoples, and a recognition of the complexity of these relationships. Internationally-minded people appreciate and value the diversity of cultures in the world and make an effort to learn more about them."

With more and more companies sending employees on international assignments and young people becoming digital nomads – working remotely and choosing to travel for work and pleasure – it is more important than ever that schools prepare students for the changing world of work.

We hear from several schools around the world about how they are working to help their students realise a global outlook.

TASIS The American School in England

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers in the US (2016), the top five attributes that employers seek in job candidates are: leadership skills, the ability to work in a team, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and a strong work ethic. Bryan Nixon, head of school at TASIS The American School in England, says, “Schools must provide learning opportunities that focus on skills as well as content. At TASIS The American School in England, we recognise this challenge to see beyond a narrow definition of academic excellence and help our students develop essential attributes such as resilience, adaptability, curiosity and reflection.”

The IB – which is taught at more than 146 schools around the world – is considered to benefit students in fostering global mindedness. Nixon says “ Our students are engaged in a curriculum that promotes international-mindedness and helps them to develop the attributes of the IB Learner Profile: Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-Takers, Balanced, and Reflective.

“A curriculum that prepares future leaders must delve into and grapple with issues that have personal, local, and global relevance and significance. We provide opportunities that enable students to develop an awareness of different cultural perspectives and an appreciation for the commonality and the complexity of human experience. If schools can develop leaders who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right, what impact might they have on a world entangled in conflicts based on cultural, religious, economic, and political differences?”

Bavarian International School gAG (BIS)

Dr Chrissie Sorenson, head of school and executive board of BIS, explains how the school is preparing students for the challenges of a global career and the digital world. She says, “Our motto at BIS is ‘Believe.Inspire.Succeed’, which is at the heart of how we prepare students for the future and positions that may not yet exist.

“Aside from making the latest technologies accessible to our students, our curriculum is inquiry-based. We show how the learning is relevant to their lives, which means students are engaged in their learning and often go beyond what is required for an assignment. Our staff are not afraid to learn new technologies alongside our students and use them to further enhance our curriculum.”

BIS offers all four IB programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP, age 3­ to Grade 5); the Middle Years Programme (MYP, Grade 6 to 10); and both the Diploma Programme and the Careers-­related Programme (DP and CP respectively, Grade 11 to 12).

Dr Sorenson explains, “One common thread through all IB programmes is the IB learner profile, which 'focuses on developing internationally-minded people who recognise their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.’ It is at the core of what we do and you can see the results in the conversations, service and action our students engage in both internationally and locally; for example, helping to build a school or even a walkway in Nepal or creating awareness around children’s rights also here in Europe.”

Jerudong International School, Brunei Darussalam

Nicholas Sheehan, principal at Jerudong International School, says, “Jerudong International School provides students with a solid academic foundation so that students have the exam results required to apply to the world’s best universities. However, within the academic curriculum and also in addition to it, we implement a range of programmes and extra-curricular activities to challenge and inspire students - providing them with leadership opportunities and the critical thinking skills, tools and confidence to be able to adapt to the different environments they will find themselves in the future.”

Jerudong International School offers a choice of A Levels or the IB Diploma Programme for the pre-university course. Students selecting the A Level pathway now study for the JIS Diploma which is a bespoke pathway for each A Level student and includes an additional Critical Thinking programme which they study alongside their academic subjects. This is designed to challenge and prepare the students for University.

Sheehan says, “As a school of over 1650 students, with 40% Bruneians and 60% students from 54 other countries, fostering global mindedness is a crucial part of the school mindset. Internationalism is a key part of the IB Diploma programme curriculum but it is something we integrate with all areas of the curriculum from the very youngest children in Junior School to the senior students.

“It enables our graduates to apply to the very best Universities in full confidence that they have the academic foundation and emotional resilience to thrive in their new place of study.”

KIS International School Bangkok

Linda Belonje, marketing and admissions at KIS International School, says, “Students at KIS learn using resources and examples from many countries. They learn how to appreciate different points of view and understand that people who have different opinions can also be right. Students at KIS look at local and global issues and understand the importance of tackling both.”

Belonje adds, “The International Baccalaureate is an international curriculum that helps students appreciate their own and other cultures, values and traditions. The programme encourages understanding and being open-minded. This is evident throughout the continuum of education. Furthermore, the IB is taught in schools all around the world and respected by universities globally... Through the IB, students at KIS learn how to think critically and how to make connections. These qualities help to make them successful in different contexts which can cross borders”

Cambridge Assessment International Education

Education needs to prepare students to succeed in a globalised economy, as they could end up working anywhere in the world. Cambridge International qualifications are taken by students in 160 countries around the world, which presents a range of challenges to curriculum developers and question setters.

Andrew Coombes, director of International Network at Cambridge Assessment International Education, says, “We need to make sure that our programmes are consistent and accessible, even when used in schools with different curricula and cultural contexts, and where English might be the second or third language. The content itself must not be aligned to one specific culture, to ensure it is meaningful and relevant to students all over the world.”

Schools with a global outlook

This is just a small selection of international schools that are instilling global mindedness in their pupils, with a wide range of State and private schools in the UK and around the world also working to achieve the same goals.

See our Guide to International Education & Schools and Guide to Education & Schools in the UK to find schools that are fostering global mindedness and educating the next generation of global leaders.

How do you think schools can prepare pupils for the changing world of work? We would love to hear your views.

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