International Education and the Value of International Mindedness

Written by BFIS Staff

As an International educator I have read and written long papers on the human characteristic of International Mindedness; its definition, evolution as a concept and how we might foster it in our community of learners as a school.

I have sought to attempt to pot years of work and multiple paradigm shifts by turning to the words of others like UNESCO to articulate international-mindedness “… as a sense of universal values, valuing freedom, intercultural understanding, non-violent conflict resolution.” 

I love Gardner’s, “The whole course of human development can be viewed as a continuing decline in egocentrism.”  The ideas of Boyd Roberts, who explains one might speak multiple languages, move money across borders and seamlessly integrate oneself into multiple cultures… but that might just make  you a drug dealer, not a global citizen… have been particularly helpful. 

It’s still a lot to communicate when you have limited time to share what you believe in.

I had a moment of clarity in recent years and evolved an elevator speech to “There’s a lot you don’t know about everything you think you know” , when I saw a quote from Stephen Hawking, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” 

I don’t want to make any assumptions, but I learned that I might have been on the right lines… but then… What do I know?

I think the best version of being internationally minded is being able to move to action. To do something. If you send your child to an International school you are committing to having them be ready to be collaborative individuals, connected to the world around them and empowered to design innovative solutions to complex problems to create a better world. 

If having agency in your own life and the lives of others make you happier it seems like parents will have hit the jackpot for both their own children and community and World sustainability that impacts their grandchildren! 

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

– Robert Swan OBE, the first man in history to walk to both the North and South Poles and someone who when I met and worked with him as a 17 year old, influenced my ability to see beyond see that the world was so much bigger than me and that that…was a good thing. 

Service Learning CAS
BFIS student on a Beach Clean activity in Setubal

Why an International Education?

Global transformation requires a transformation in the way we think about education. We are encountering increasingly complex problems like climate change, economic and political instability, famine, conflict, and mass migration. 

The world and our students are responding to a mental healthcare crisis driven by a global pandemic and the prevalence of social media.  These problems are not confined by and cannot be solved within national borders. 

In September 2015, 193 World Leaders ratified 17 Global Goals. Achieving the Global Goals is the challenge of a new generation of young people. The Global Goals are deeply relevant to the learning landscape that we create in schools.

We are living in a time of massive transformation driven by rapid technological and societal changes. 

As societies become increasingly interconnected and simultaneously interdependent, we must adopt a Nursery-12 curriculum framework that offers opportunities to expand our thinking across international, cultural, religious, linguistic, political, economic, healthcare, and societal barriers. 

Global population and technological advances are increasing exponentially. The nature of experiences, goods and services as well as the location and nature of the materials and human resources that shape them, are changing at a tremendous pace. The drivers of our world economy are evolving quickly. 

The context of problems and their solutions will continue to change but the fundamentals of effective problem solving has not.  

Service Learning CAS
BFIS Habitat for Humaniy, Nepal

Schools should believe that we need to transform the opportunities that we offer young people to meet these challenges. A Community’s Vision for Learning should articulate how a school will create opportunities for young people to learn how to develop self-esteem, be confident, take risks, fail forward and be resilient. 

How will it aim to help them to learn how to develop empathy, to care about complex problems, and to prepare them to collaboratively find the solutions? How does it allow them to find their own voice and build on their talents and interests? 

Schools that are truly international are creating these opportunities while still preparing students for University and the academic subject content and test preparation of the IB Diploma Program. 

They believe that when their written, taught, and assessed curriculum are aligned with the goals of a bold vision for learning, that students will be more successful because they will be more engaged, flexible, resilient, ethical and autonomous learners. 

Rachel Hovington
Head of School

CreaEscola Quality Certificate for Education Website