Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Food, festivals and flags are just the tip of the iceberg

I'm preparing for a Making the PYP Happen workshop at my school when we return after the break, and I've been looking at articles on international mindedness.  Yesterday I came across a back issue of Educational Leadership from 2002 when I worked at the International School of Amsterdam whose mission statement included the words "education for international understanding".  I remember that while I was there we put considerable effort into this phrase and working together as a faculty to come up with a common understanding of what this was and why it was important.

The article Beyond Food, Festivals and Flags from the October 2002 edition of Educational Leadership outlines why an international curriculum is so important.  partly this is because of economic and social reasons as it is likely that young people today will have many different jobs, some of which may be in different countries or in multinationals with colleagues spread around the world.  Other reasons are because a global effort is needed to solve some of the world's problems such as environmental issues and world peace.

The article in Educational Leadership is about the definition of international mindedness by the International Primary Curriculum.  In this an international perspective includes a knowledge and understanding beyond one's own nationality, and an awareness and understanding of the interdependence among peoples and countries.  I was interested to look at an activity in this curriculum for upper elementary students which looks at media bias - news that has been represented by a second country in a way that is thought to be unfair by a first country, and I started to think about how students could use Google News to read the same story that was told by different national newspapers and analyse why perspectives vary.

In an IB school it's important that all of us (students, teachers, parents) show international mindedness.  Many schools do study food, festivals and flags of other countries, but true intercultural understanding goes way deeper than these - beyond the things that you can see to the very heart of how we think and act.  For me, the core of international mindedness is that "other people, with their differences, can also be right." [IB Mission Statement]

Photo Credit: Philip Oyarzo via Compfight cc

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