And yet at the heart of the 3 IB programmes is "international mindedness". In the PYP, for example, there is the commitment to transdisciplinary learning, where themes of global significance that transcend the confines of traditional subject areas frame the learning. These themes, which are explored by students from their different perspectives, lead students to the understanding that there is "a commonality of human experience". International mindedness is about what the students are learning, how they are showing their understanding and how they are connecting what they are learning at school with their experiences at home and in the world.
In Chapter 6 of Curriculum 21, Vivien Stewart asks "How can we get all of our students globally ready?" She points out that the line between domestic and international issues is blurring and that the only way to solve today's challenges will be through international cooperation and the understanding of other cultures. She writes that students need to be prepared to compete, connect and cooperate with their peers around the world. They need a knowledge of cultures, economies and global issues, as well as the language skills to communicate and work in cross-cultural teams and to assess information from different sources around the world. Above all, I think, they need to be able to respect others and others' viewpoints. The IB mission statement refers to this as understanding that "other people, with their differences, can also be right". The IB learner profile also represents the qualities of effective learners and internationally-minded students - it is a profile of the student who will graduate from the IB programmes and as such becomes "a compass for all school work" so that the curriculum is designed to enable students to meet the learning outcomes that the profile defines.
At the same time it's important to have an international faculty. Many international schools, who proudly state on their websites that they draw students from over 50 different nationalities, still have a very limited hiring policy - mostly taking teachers from the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. And while some of the leaders and teachers in these schools have certainly been around and lived in many different countries and continents, others have only lived in one or two. How much of a "global perspective" do many of these educators have? While students working with other students in the same class with very different perspectives may develop international mindedness as they learn with and not just about their peers from other countries, how often do teachers get to work with other teachers with completely different points of views?
Web 2.0 tools are allowing us to connect and collaborate with other teachers very easily. They have allowed me to connect with teachers around the world who are working in very different conditions from myself - in the "real world" as opposed to the gated communities and compounds of some expat worlds. Twitter is abuzz with these educators sharing their ideas. They may not be working in international schools, but for sure they are global educators. Steve Wheeler of Plymouth University refers to these as connected educators in a recent blog post. He says " they tend to reflect more deeply on what they learn, simply because they have had to make the effort to connect with new knowledge" and goes on to quote Steven Anderson (@web20classroom) who says:
They are transparent in their thinking ... and that means that they are not shy in sharing their ideas or giving away their content for free. Connected educators know that in doing this they become global educators, with their content being amplified across a worldwide community of practice.So although I've been an international teacher for 24 years, I would only regard myself as being a global educator for perhaps 3 or 4 of those years. But those 3 or 4 years have completely changed my perspective on teaching, and on life.
Update: I have come across a great blog post by Tom Whitby entitled: What's a Connected Educator - well worth reading about the benefits of being connected.
Photo Credit: A Child's World by Pink Sherbert Photography