The importance of an international experience at school in developing a global mindset in children.
Our world is changing at a terrific speed! Technology, communication, and travel have made all countries and cultures so much more accessible, so much more connected – transforming the way we live our lives in the process.
There is now wide recognition that the development of a global mindset – the ability to understand and meaningfully relate to individuals, groups, and organizations from different socio-cultural systems – is a key 21stcentury learning requirement. In the modern world, a global mindset will positively influence a person’s working and personal life. Consequently, forward-thinking parents are now actively seeking a school that will develop a global mindset in their children.
Certainly, there has been a massive increase in demand for international schools around the world as both a product of globalisation itself and a direct way for children and young people to become part of it. A good international school provides children with the very best form of immersion into a diverse micro-community, preparing them for life and work in the larger, international social context. However, in choosing an international learning experience for your child, you need to ask probing questions about a school to check that it ‘does what it says on the tin’!
Many schools around the world claim to be international, but are actually a long way off being a truly mixed community! Ask the school directly about the demographics of the student population, ask around and also check for yourself during a school tour. MBIS is proud to be the most international of all schools in Egypt, with 52 nationalities represented in the community. This rich, eclectic mix affords children with a truly unique learning context.
At the core of a global mindset lies the promotion of the fundamental attitudes of understanding, tolerance, and respect: the recognition that diversity is a strength, a unifying force. A true global mindset comes from both intellectual and empathic understanding – from a child ‘feeling’ internationalism, not simply listening to a teacher talking about it. Check that this is happening at the schools on your list. At MBIS, a values-driven ethos with 5 Personal Learning Goals – Respect, Relationships, Reflectiveness, Resilience, and Resourcefulness – ensures that the culture of internationalism is very real – a ‘way of being’ for all children, young people, and adults.
A good international school offers an internationally influenced curriculum –planned programmes of study across the ages and stages that purposefully incorporate elements drawn from different countries and cultures. Such a curriculum provides both rigor and widens the child’s global knowledge. Again, be sure that this is happening at a potential school for your child. At MBIS, a ‘creative curriculum’ – built on the English national curriculum with international additions – firmly secures this key objective. Child-centred, high-interest topics (such as ‘Chocolate’; ‘Rainforests’; and ‘World War 2’) draw on the history and geography of different places around the world. Art and Music also celebrate the lives and works of international figures. Different faiths are explored and valued in a unique ‘Learning for Life’ programme – with children from the focus religion actively contributing to other children’s learning. School assemblies draw on celebrations (such as Ramadan, Christmas, Divali, etc) and international events (such as World Peace Day, Autism Awareness Day, WaterAid, etc). Moreover, with English as the core medium of learning, additional language options in Arabic, French and Spanish cement the children’s global linguistic skills.
As you can see, there is much to consider when choosing an international experience for your child. Simply holding a single ‘International Day’ during the academic calendar does not make a good international school! If you want your child to truly acquire a global mindset then do your homework, ask lots of questions and visit the schools to be sure you are making the right choice. The right choice will undoubtedly shape your child’s learning, outlook, and opportunities for the rest of their lives.