Here at One World International School (OWIS), we believe that every child should be internationally minded. It's a big concept and one that prospective parents and teachers often ask us to define.
What does international mindedness look like?
Carolyn Savage, an independent educational consultant in the UK, says, "Put simply, international mindedness means understanding, respecting and valuing different cultures, embracing diversity and knowing that different perspectives have a great deal to offer."
That's a good working definition.
For schools, international mindedness forms a values-based framework in which to teach concepts like collaboration, compassion and empathy. From a practical point of view, leading corporations are searching for prospective leaders with a keen sense of global awareness -- that deep-and-broad perspective on economics, the environment, human rights and political structures. It is the internationally minded student of today who will lead the world of tomorrow.
International Mindedness for Students
For our students at OWIS, international mindedness means adopting a certain value system of kindness, tolerance and acceptance of multiple viewpoints. Since our school is home to learners of more than 60 nationalities, students have many chances to learn and grow.
That's important because globally competent leaders in the 21st century possess a distinct array of values, attitudes, behaviours and concepts. They realise how their own culture shapes their understanding of others, for instance, and they can engage in constructive dialogue with people from a variety of perspectives.
Technology plays an important role in international mindedness, too. Consider that only 39% of the world uses a safe sanitation service but more than 50% of the population is online. Plus, new fields like bioengineering are bringing culturally diverse thinkers together to solve global problems on a global scale. That's why today's students need to be more than digitally fluent; they also need to be technologically ethical and able to work collaboratively with colleagues from around the world.
Further, an attitude of openness to new ways of thinking help students frame questions, analyze data and apply new understanding to complex puzzles. By valuing international mindedness, our teachers can equip students with multi-faceted skills for personal and professional success.
International Mindedness for Teachers, Staff and School
Teachers face the same shrinking, flattening world that students do. As urbanisation, climate change and demographic restructuring present new challenges, teachers must expose their learners to a broader array of ideas. To do it, they need to devise innovative teaching strategies rooted in historic understandings of how children learn.
At OWIS, we provide students with direct classroom education in subjects like global perspectives. This course exposes our children to international topics and lets them collaborate, reflect and communicate to solve problems. We keep diversity in mind when teaching other subjects as well. Of course, not all learning happens in the classroom. Our students also enjoy celebrating major festivals and traditions from around the world.
Moreover, we make it a point to build a community of teachers with international exposure. For example, Ms Ignavtova was born in Russia, but she grew up in Japan and speaks fluent Japanese. Today, she teaches grade 2 students at OWIS in Singapore. That's a perspective learners don't get at every institution.
International Mindedness for Parents
International mindedness doesn't stop at the exit door of the school. Our OWIS parents commit to transmitting similar values at home. Some families take their children to multicultural events. Others cultivate international friendships. And still others make movies, holidays and entertainment into opportunities to practice purposeful multiculturalism. Why not have a diverse group of friends over to celebrate the winter solstice holidays and enjoy an international potluck together?
However your family chooses to celebrate diversity, know that we at OWIS are with you in spirit, believing every child should be internationally minded and striving daily to inculcate this value into every aspect of our school.