Each year Whitby's Upper School students are actively engaged in the Model United Nations in New York City. During the course of this annual trip, our Middle School students have to represent and consider many different perspectives on global issues from the perspective of many countries and seek resolution through debate with students from many schools from around the world, hence modeling the process utilized within the United Nations.
As I reflect on the learning that such an engagement provides for our children, I am reminded that one of the key features of Whitby is the focus on "international-mindedness". I define "international-mindedness" as the ability to interpret and analyze issues from different perspectives through the lens of intercultural understanding and a respect for others.
Within the various IB programs, international-mindedness is defined by the attributes listed in the IB Learner Profile.
Students who graduate from International Baccalaureate programs aspire to be:
Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-Takers, Balanced and Reflective
These traits direct us to focus on the learning experiences we provide for our students throughout the curriculum. In order to achieve this, we offer a curriculum that provides opportunities for learning about issues that have personal, local and global relevance and significance. This begins with fostering an understanding of culture and personal cultural identities (the signs, symbols, languages, traditions etc. that make us who we are).
This exploration enables learners to develop an awareness of different cultural perspectives and appreciate the commonality of human experience. In doing so, we further develop the concept of global perspective so that, through intercultural understanding and respect, our students understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right. This is particularly relevant in our world today, which is entangled in conflicts based on cultural, religious, economic and political differences.
As a "community of learners", we strive to offer an inclusive ethos which values and reflects the diversity of cultures and perspectives within our school community. As we discuss issues and events within our classes, and in our homes, it is important that we consider this ethos and various perspectives in order to model the IB Learner Profile for our children and peers. As the IB Mission Statement pronounces:
We aim to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
Einstein once cautioned that, 'The thinking that got us here is incapable of getting us out of here.'
As we view all the issues that surround us both locally and globally, we need to purposefully continue to shape our school culture to not only focus on student achievement but also to provide our students with the competencies that they, as global citizens, are going to need to confidently embrace and challenge the complexities and opportunities of our world.