Last week, based on the experiences of our Grade 7 and 8 students with the Model United Nations, I explored the concept of "international-mindedness". I ended the article by stating that 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."
Throughout our program, both curricular and co-curricular, we strive to provide learning experiences that will give students opportunities and challenges as they develop the attributes of the IB Learner Profile. To embrace this, we can look at international-mindedness through the lenses of two related aspects: educating the human spirit and the importance of relationships.
Paul Poore, a former Director at the International School of Harare, in his article "School Culture: The space between the bars; the silence between the notes" (Journal of Research in International Education, December 2005, vol. 4 no. 3, 351-361), coins this focus on developing international-mindedness within each child as educating the human spirit. He states that administrators and teachers "should be doing more to actively teach compassion, respect and gratitude."
These are rich traditions at Whitby that are being extended through such programs as our Upper School Community Service Program. In each age group, we encourage our students to take responsibility for their learning and their interactions within our community.
To achieve this, we encourage viewing events through different perspectives, as witnessed in Primary with the use of the "Peace Table". With parents, too, we invite speakers such as Alfie Kohn to challenge our thinking related to parenting from perspectives we may not have considered previously.
Educating the human spirit also relies on developing respect for others. This relates to the second aspect of international-mindedness mentioned earlier, the importance of relationships. We'll discuss that in the third part of this series next week.