In the month of November, International Schools Intelligence (ISC) Research released its 2021 report, The international school student profile, which looked at some of the developments in the industry and how they have affected “today’s international students.”
According to the findings, 100% of survey respondents believed that multilingualism, understanding of other cultures, and international participation were not knowingly monitored in schools. The three elements are part of the International Baccalaureate’s (IB) definition of international inquisitiveness; experts believe that international mindedness is important in international learning.
“This report aimed to identify options that are accessible for schools to effectively evaluate the development of international mindedness, which is an aim of all International Baccalaureate programs and other international curricula,” said ISC Research Director Sam Fraser. “[It] suggests that schools need to provide clarity on the education provision that they offer and, if they are promising an international education, that they have a solution to assess international-mindedness.”
Regardless of the fact that many schools have adopted the IB’s concept, the report concludes that there is no universally accepted definition of global mindedness. According to the report, many schools use the phrase loosely or interchangeably with concepts like “global mindedness” and “cultural intelligence.”
As per the report, many schools use the phrase vaguely or interchangeably with concepts like “global mindedness” and “cultural intelligence.” In the survey, respondents’ replies on the question of what it meant, as well as their school’s practice of it and hopes to enhance it, varied greatly.
One IB Diploma graduate characterized it as "being aware of various countries and cultures throughout the world, working in the best interests of not only my country but the entire world."
Conversely, a teacher of different IB and US curricula described it as “developing intercultural awareness via experiences and conversations with varied communities,” as described by a teacher of various IB and US curricula. While the methods for each response varied, the main theme of “intercultural awareness” was evident in all of them.
Furthermore, the survey stated that international schools had the ability to “bring disparate cultures together,” emphasizing the importance of a common concept of international mindedness that “truly addresses heterogeneity, fairness, inclusion, and justice.” It also asked for effective ways to “measure the growth” of international mindedness in pupils aged three to eighteen in the classroom.
According to the paper, this indicates a “need to develop assessment techniques expressly for the international school sector. The entire school community, including students and parents, needs to have a clear understanding of what the school will deliver and what its international dimension means for its students and staff,” stressed Fraser.
“The report highlights some of the tools currently accessible to measure international-mindedness – however, the majority of these tools were developed and validated based upon undergraduate international students,” Fraser added, heightening the need for assessment tools for K-12 students.
There seems to be an appearance of youth-led organizations that seek “educational change” in recent years, such as the Organization to Decolonize International Schools, which was founded by students. “There are a lot of schools that say they’re international…then you look at the leadership team, you look at the teachers and what they’re teaching – it doesn’t really read as international, nor reflect the diversity of the student body,” said Anna Clara Reynolds, co-founder of ODIS.
Activism is “crucial to induce effective change,” according to the co-founder of Reset Revolution, another organization founded by international students. “Educators have to be the ones to make sure the curriculum, structure, and peace-conflict management strategies change, and those uncomfortable topics are talked about,” said Kotoha Kudo.
In order to foster international-mindedness in schools, News Decoder founder and president Nelson Graves believes that schools should “hire more teachers from the local community” of the target schools and take advantage of opportunities to “shape the curriculum to align more closely with the host country’s requirements.”
Finally, Graves admitted that they need to improve their ability to evaluate the influence of international mindedness. “We have not yet perfected a system for measuring the impact [of international mindedness],” Graves said.
“I suspect this is a challenge for many schools as they look to increase the international mindedness of students and teachers.”
Considering the virus outbreak, the survey found that over the last five years (2016-21), British-oriented international schools have grown by 54 per cent, with international-oriented schools growing by an estimated 69 per cent. The United States fared worse, with a 17 per cent increase.