Here are the key terminologies which will be addressed in this article.
Intercultural Literacy (IL) – This is defined “as including competencies, attitudes and identities in addition to understanding and suggests a literacy that crosses cultural boundaries” (Heyward, 2002). Heyward (2002) continues to describe how an IL person has the ability to “read” a second culture, “to interpret its symbols and negotiate its meanings in a practical day –to-day context.”
International Mindedness (IM) – Sriprakash (2014) describes this as an individual having the ability to be open and respectful towards others, their ideas, cultures and languages. Key characteristics involve being able to problem solve, have good communication skills, to be reflective, adaptable and flexible.
Global Competence (GC) – Mansilla & Jackson (2011) explains how they are; “individuals [who] are aware, curious, and interested in learning about the world and how it works.” They continue to describe how once they develop their skills, the individuals will be able to apply them in “recognizing multiple perspectives, communicating their views effectively, and taking action to improve conditions” (Mansilla & Jackson, 2011).
What are the benefits, pitfalls, and arguments against education with an international focus?
It would make sense why education is heading towards more of an international focus, due to the different ethnic backgrounds and cultures being mixed and learned.
Kahn (2003) states how;
“Children are now growing up in more multicultural societies in comparison to societies in the past. As the children grow, they will be working, networking, loving, and living with people from different nationalities, who speak different languages, have different religions, ethnicity and backgrounds”.
As a result of this, more programs like the IB (International Baccalaureate) became available to help provide a framework for international learning. To encourage students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers.
However, Fox (1985) claimed, “despite best intentions, the IB curriculum was prone to perpetuating cultural imperialism”. Drake (2015) responds by acknowledging how Asia, Africa and South America are very different culturally. I have observed this for myself also, with comparisons to my own education in England to teaching in Thailand. In “western” cultures, students are encouraged to “challenge received wisdom” (Drake, 2015). Whereas in Thailand, I’ve observed how the students are “passive” learners. Knowledge is imparted on to them by the teacher. Therefore, these students will find it difficult to “distinguish appropriate critical analysis at school…producing an inevitable cultural dissonance” (Drake, 2015). Walker and Dimmock (2002) further described how these imperialized sets of skills may cause “tensions with certain traditional cultural attributes”. Consequently, this can cause high-power distance relationships.
Another observation I’ve made is how in the West, we encourage a more student centred approach in international education as we consider rote learning to be “no more than surface learning” (Watkins and Biggs, 1996). However, in contrast to this Watkins and Biggs (1996) argues there is “evidence collected from Hong Kong students shows that rote learning is a necessary part of memorization, which in turn is linked to deeper understanding.”
Although international educational programs like the IB has been successful in globalising education and providing opportunities and skills to help develop students to participate in the 21st Century with the necessary skills. Drake (2015) acknowledges how even with careful, mindful adjustments in developing education with an international focus will help develop a global competent learner. He concludes how, the introduction of these programs “to regions such as China, Africa and South America will inevitably produce dissonance and cultural tension.”
What are reasons why you as an educator may support ideas against international-mindedness (IM), intercultural literacy (IL), and/or global competence (GC)?
As an educator, I like many aspects about IM, IL and GC. However, I believe what may support my ideas against these ideas are how it’s similar to a communist and imperialistic ideal in certain aspects. It comes from the idea how all students are equal and the constant sharing of education. Although I agree how collaboration and sharing when applied well can provide exceptional results, it is not always great in implementation. I would argue how many of the best ideas from the 21st Century have actually come from competition between individuals, such as Bill Gates (Chairman of Microsoft) or Mark Zuckerberg (C.E.O of Facebook). I believe students need to be challenged to do better than others. However, I am not proposing we should encourage them to ridicule or overly belittle their classmates. Competition like in sports drives us to do better. It isn’t necessarily a negative, and I feel this can assist in preparing students to participate in the 21st Century. Nevertheless, some cultures aren’t compatible with this notion of “competition” within education and it could lead to “dissonance and cultural tension” (Drake, 2015). Oord (2007), argues how educational programs such as the IB are largely monoculture;
“it would be better to describe the Diploma Programme as a western-liberal curriculum for internationally-minded students than as an international education…then the IBO could indeed play a modest role in the perpetuation of western domination by westernizing the youth of non-western traditions.”
Therefore, this leads to what international education programs are still tackling to this day, how do we develop an international curriculum which doesn’t westernize learning?
What are reasons why you as an educator would support the integration of international mindedness (IM), intercultural literacy (IL), and global competence (GC) into curricula?
International parents and students choose international schools as it provides more opportunities for higher education in the West. A Japanese parent, Mitsuko Sakakibara stated, “I would like my son to have an international environment education to build his mind as a global citizen from a young age” (Weschler, 2017). As she didn’t believe her son would receive this in a Japanese national school. Another parent says, “I wanted my kids to be Chinese, to know who they are, but to learn with a global perspective and to be fully prepared for western university” (Weschler, 2017).
Although I acknowledge the criticisms of IM, IL and GC, I generally support these ideas because they focus on understanding and cooperation between others. It also assists in providing students to develop the necessary skills to participate in the future. Through skill-sets, students can have potential to become better global students and workers. Sriprakash (2014) pronounces “a continued dialogue that values epistemic reflexivity, intellectual equality and ethical engagement enriches future understandings and transformations of international mindedness for the twenty-first century.” These characteristics demonstrate the ideas for what students will hopefully develop into and create a better world as a result. If these behaviours are facilitated.
As a Science teacher, I am encouraging students to think about how something works and why. To apply this mind-set on a global scale as well as challenging other certain topics, will optimistically create students investigating why, rather than just possessing blind acceptance and memorization.
Drake, B. (2015). International education and IB programmes Worldwide expansion and potential cultural dissonance. JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION , Vol 3.
Heyward, M. (2002). From International to Intercultural: Redefining the International School for a Globalized world. Journal of Research in International Education.
IB (2017). Programmes. Retrieved June 2017, from http://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/assessment-and-exams/sample-exam-papers/
Khan, M. (2003, August 23rd ). Teaching Globalization . Retrieved from Gobal Policy Forum : https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/162/27666.html
Mansilla , V. B., & Jackson, A. (2011). Educating for Global Competence: Preparing our Youth to Engage the World. Retrieved from Asia Society: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzLwFwwvm0oNUndIWkxKb2NMV3c/view
Oord, L. v. (2007). To westernize the nations? An analysis of the International Baccalaureates philosophy of education. Cambridge Journal of Education , 375 – 390 .
Sriprakash , D., Singh, M., & Jing, Q. (2014, July ). A comparative study of international mindedness in the IB Diploma Programme in Australia, China and India.
Weschler, A. (2017, June 5th). The International-School Surge. Retrieved July 2017, from theatlantic.com: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/06/the-international-school-surge/528792/