Global citizenship, like international education, is a popular idea in education (Sutherland, Price, & Harris, 2014, p. 35). As schools try to address the desires of various stakeholders, including business, governments, and NGOs for global citizenship and international education, questions arise as to how best to approach it (Marshall, 2011, pg. 2). Given the different agendas of the actors crying out for global education, from pragmatic and economic concerns to idealist desires for international understanding, it is not an easy question to answer.
To further complicate matters, Cambridge (2014) makes the important observation that whether or not a school provides a truly international education is not solely determined by its status as an international or non-international school (pg. 17). Both accredited international schools and schools teaching national curricula may or may not provide international educations to equal degrees. In fact, even in schools with visions stating a dedication to global citizenship education, it is rarely addressed in the curriculum as written (Sutherland, Price, & Harris, 2014, p. 42).
Berenstein, as cited by Cambridge (2014) outlines how a curriculum might be strongly or weakly framed and classified. A strongly classified curriculum is likely presented as a discrete subject. This approach allows for more teacher autonomy with regards to instruction and assessment (pg. 21). While this offers the potential for individual teachers with a strong global mindset to produce great results in their classroom, conversely, less motivated individuals would have difficulty meeting the goals of the curriculum (Sutherland, Price, & Harris, 2014, pg. 37, 42). This type of learning can be described as 'education about global citizenship' (Cambridge, 2014, pg. 27).
A more integrated approach to global citizenship in which learning crosses subject boundaries and saturates the culture of the school seems to be a more common approach (Sutherland, Price, & Harris, 2014, pg. 43). Many schools, despite working towards visions that support global citizenship, don't mention it in their 'curriculum as written' (pg. 42). Rather, global citizenship education takes place more as 'interstitial learning' present in the school's 'hidden curriculum', the attitudes and disciplines that it supports (Cambridge, 2014, pg. 27). Cocurricular activities that allow students to seek out others experiences and experience global concerns are one approach to providing this (Sutherland, Price, & Harris, 2014, pg. 48) A challenge of this approach is that teachers in such a school must share a similar vision of global citizenship education and approach pedagogy and evaluation in the same way (Cambridge, 2014, pg. 22, 27). This approach can be thought of as 'education for global citizenship', in which students develop values and competencies that support acting as global citizens (pg. 27).
The content of global citizenship education is up for debate as well. Cambridge (2014) outlines two broad categories of values that global citizenship education might support: expressive values and instrumental values. The former include modes of conduct, character traits, and manners that we share when we interact as global citizens. The latter includes skills and knowledge that we can use when interacting (p. 17). Marshall (2011) outlines a number of different agendas that global citizenship education might support, which would likely affect the expressive and instrumental values given priority in different circumstances: capitalists, reformers, environmentalists, networkers, and cosmopolitans (pg. 3).
In my view, one of the most promising approaches to global citizenship programming lies in supporting the development of cosmopolitan citizenship. Generally, it presumes that a connected world community will produce multiple identities in individuals, and takes certain universal human rights to be shared values among all people (Cambridge, 2014, pg. 18). Marshall (2011) provides a list of cosmopolitan capitals that such an approach might support the development of, such as global knowledge of current conditions and issues, different social or economic orientations to global engagement, and global competencies required to interact with the world (pp. 6-7). He cites Andreotti's four types of 'post-colonial' learning for global citizenship (learning to unlearn, listen, learn, and reach out) as competencies that global citizenship education might develop, as well as Rizvi's epistemic virtues of historicity, criticality, reflexivity, and relationality (p. 13).
There is a danger of western bias in creating global citizenship curricula that often locates itself in discourses of modernity and progress (Cambridge, 2014, pg. 20). Eurocentric views of international education often assume that the west is at the center and in possession of Universal knowledge, while other knowleges are 'traditional' (Marshall, 2011, pg. 11). Perhaps approaching global citizenship education as a set of competencies like the ones outlined by Andreotti and Rizvi can help to mitigate this. As Marshall states, the "imagined global futures of adults might not necessarily be appropriate for the next generation" (p. 4). Focusing on metacognitive and inter/intrapersonal skills that allow students to be adaptable learners might be the best global citizenship education, or education in general, that we can hope to provide. Tomorrow's global citizens should be prepared to engage in their own debates about what matters in the world while being fully and critically aware of all of the actors and agendas at work.
Cambridge, J. (2014). Global citizenship education as pedagogic discourse. In Dobson, D. P., & Silova, I. (eds.) Globalizing minds: Rhetoric and realities in international schools. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc. 15-34.
Marshall, H. (2011). Instrumentalism, ideals and imaginaries: Theorising the contested space of global citizenship education in schools. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 9 (3-4), 411- 426. Retrieved from http://opus.bath.ac.uk/27859/1/Marshall_Globalisation_Societies_Education_2011_9_3_4_411.pdf
Sutherland, I. E., Price, D., and Harris, D. (2014). Where is global citizenship? How international schools are fulfilling their mission. In Dobson, D. P., & Silova, I. (eds.) Globalizing minds: Rhetoric and realities in international schools. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc. 35-50.
Pearce (2013) argues that the defining characteristic of international schools is their diverse student body (p. 61), highlighting how difficult it is to create a unified 'profile' to describe 'who' the typical international school student is. Hayden (2012) outlines some of the different types of students and schools that can be classified as 'international'; such as national schools with multicultural student bodies resulting from mobility and permanent immigration, temporary immigrants engaged in international tertiary studies, locals studying in international satellite campuses and offshore schools, and children of internationally mobile parents (pg. 59-60). One of the challenges that emerges is the difficulty that international school students have in forming identity in situations where the child and environment are of different cultures (Pearce, 2013, pg. 62). In addition, students of mobile parents may face language acquisition issues depending on the instruction of the schools they attend and their unique language needs (Pearce, 2016, pg. 185).
International school students face challenges forming identity while dealing with cultural dissonance they experience in their studies due to potentially different conventions regarding roles and communication (Pearce, 2013, pg. 62). Most teachers at international schools are nationally educated, often in the United States or the United Kingdom, cultures that may not easily view other cultures as equals (pg. 64-66). In addition, the multicultural upbringing of some international school students can result in the development of normative objectivity (pg. 74), which may result in conflict developing in the classroom due to different value placed on adherence to rules and norms. International teachers as a group tend to be risk takers or committed to internationalism as a group (pg. 63), and this self-selected approach might also lead to conflict with students from cultures that prize other values.
Other challenges can result specifically for Third Culture Kids (TCK), the transient children of internationally mobile parents, who report little connection to any home culture due to frequent migration to new countries and schools (Hayden, 2012, pg. 65). Though these students often move on to tertiary education and ultimately benefit from the language and cultural skills they gain in their migrations, these cross-cultural skills are often learned in response to suffering 'cross-cultural shocks' in youth (pg. 69). Their transiency results in many reporting their concept of 'home' as being bound less to place and more to relationships with loved ones (pg. 68). That said, their ability to form close bonds and relationships may be hampered by unresolved grief due to breaking of relationships due to their mobile existence (pg. 69). Hayden (2012) quotes McKillop Ostrom as stating:
"They tend to mesh and mimic, which cuts down the need to gain acceptance. They travel lightly, entering relationships that are typically short-term and intense, and they develop ease in saying goodbye, leaving very from people from whom they cannot walk away."
Another group of students encountered more and more in international education contexts are host country nationals who have chosen to study in international schools rather than the national educational system. While these students are frequently privileged or children of local elites, this may not always be the case (Hayden, 2012, pg. 65-66). Depending on their socio-economic reality, they may feel privileged among their peers in international schools or out of place due to their local culture and upbringing (pg. 66). Nationals studying in schools with curricula based upon foreign national systems and serving mostly expat student bodies run the risk of rejecting their local traditions and trying to take on the affectations and beliefs of their British or North American schoolmates (pg. 71).
Language issues may arise for both transient TCKs and nationals depending upon the language of instruction of the institutions in which they find themselves studying. The required multiple years of study, up to 7 years, to learn a new academic language, is made difficult to achieve by the frequency with which many international school students move (Pearce, 2016, pg. 185). This can limit their ability to benefit from their studies in general and may hinder their cognition in general (p. 185).
The diversity of student experiences in international schools requires a differentiated approach to meeting student needs that sets aside traditional reliance on cultural typology and approaches student need on a case-by-case basis (Pearce, 2016, pg. 188). Different groups of students will have different needs and experience different dissonances based on their unique situations: The child of two British parents studying in a British international school in their second year abroad will have different needs and experiences than the child of a Chinese father and Dutch mother who is in their final year of secondary studies after a transient life spent abroad who studies at the same insitution (Hayden, 2012, pg. 68). As such, the concept of differentiation is of great value to meeting student needs in international schools and international education contexts in order to minimize the cultural dissonance they face, especially with regard to values education (Pearce, 2013, pg. 65). Individual student observations can help to discover which students have come from groups that are 'good movers' and tolerate change reasonably well (pg. 188), and which students need specific support emotionally or through mother tongue programs to meet language needs (Pearce, 2013, pg. 74).
The stereotype of the wealthy, privileged international school student is one that is perpetuated by the globalist drivers of the expansion of international education and schools worldwide. However, in addition to the fact that the economic spectrum of students enrolled in such institutions is expanding to include and increasingly mobile middle class and local 'aspiring indigenous' learners (Hayden, 2012, pg. 63-64), it is also important to note that despite the economic advantages that many international students enjoy, they also face unique challenges. There may be a tendency to minimize these challenges and the negative effects that international students might suffer due to their privilege. To do so is unfair. Much as the child born into poverty has not had control over their starting conditions in life and shouldn't be judged for having been born poor, so too is the child born wealthy blameless in their privilege. As children of the world and students in our classrooms, they deserve to be cared for and treated as unique and valuable individuals deserving of care and understanding from the teachers and administratiors who serve them.
Hayden, M. (2012). Third culture kids: The global nomads of transnational spaces of learning. In Bunnell, T., Hayden, M., & Thompson, J. (eds.), SAGE Library of Educational Thought and Practice - International Education, Vol. 3. London, UK: Sage Publications Ltd.
Pearce, R. (ed.) (2013). Student diversity: The core challenge of international schools. International education and schools: Moving beyond the first 40 years. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic. 61-84.
Pearce, R. (2016). Culture and identity: A method for exploring individuals within groups. In Hayden, M., Levy, J., & Thompson, J. J. (eds.), The Sage handbook of research in international education. London, UK: Sage Publications Ltd. 185-199.
Fisher (2016), synthesizing the ideas of Cheng, Schein, and Dumetz, defines school organizational culture as "the way people in school behave and act, what is considered important and valued, and what beliefs there are about learning" and goes on to put forward that schools with a healthy culture are effective at supporting learning in students (p. 419). Various accrediting bodies lend their 'kitemark' to schools that they deem, at least in part, to support cultures of improvement and that encourage organizational internal dialogue and reflexivity (Fertig, 2016, p. 450). Accrediting bodies and the accreditation process require schools to ask and reflect upon the questions: Where are we know, where are we going, how will we get there, and how will we know we are getting there? (pp. 452-453). The ulitmate goal is to promote continous improvement towards the stated goals and values of the accrediting institution in question (p. 456).
Given the diversity of international schools seeking accreditation world-wide, and the variety of local contexts they operate within and the variety of student demographics they serve, coming up with a single 'leadership profile' to describe the qualities school leaders should possess to best meet the needs of the schools they head is not an easy task. The traits of effective leaders put forward by Fisher (2016), citing MacNeil, of being "charismatic", "team-oriented", "participative", and "humane-oriented" (p. 425) serve well to support adaptable growth in their organizations and meet the requirements of accrediting bodies in certifying the quality of their schools.
The traits mentioned in the preceding paragraph support what Fisher (2016), citing Leitwood et al. and Day et al., asserts as being the activities that effective international school leaders take part in. Fisher says that effective school leaders define and communicate school vision, change teaching and learning conditions, redesign leadership, enrich the curriculum, and build internal collaboration (pp. 420-421). As accrediting bodies focus on finding tangible, objective evidence that the school's culture and processes ensure a certain level of learning and improvement though observations, reading documents, and interviewing teachers (Fertig, 2016, p. 450), it is important that leaders are able to make tangible through artifacts, events, and discourses the intangible elements of their organizations culture like values, norms, and convictions (Fisher, 2016, p. 419).
To make sure that intangible school visions are operationalized in practice it is important that teachers have a stake in putting them into practice in their work. Redefining leadership to promote collaboration and embrace change in pedagogy and organizational systems infrastructure based on the feedback and needs of students, teachers, and other stakeholders in the organization can help support the flexibility of approach required to integrate pedagogical shifts required to meet the criteria for accreditation into existing teacher skill sets and expectations (Fisher, 2016, p. 428). Offering options to teachers to meet multiple cultural (both national and organizational) expectations with regard to self-study approaches can help to integrate a culture of "teacher as researcher" into the school culture for the broadest spectrum of teaching professionals (Fisher, 2016, p.429).
Accreditiation processes and good leadership practices exist in a symbiotic relationship in which accreditation criteria promote positive leadership practices and the practices meet the goals of accreditation. Both Fisher (2016) and Fertig (2016) seem to agree that school leaders and accrediting bodies should seek to promote school cultures in which improvment and positive growth is embedded into the fabric of the school, from the school vision, through the practices, symbols, and rituals, to the instruction and ultimately the students themselves. An awareness of the practices and approaches that support this can lead to more effective leadership in international schools and better outcomes for their students.
Fertig, M. (2016). Quality assurance in national and international schools: Accreditation, authorization and inspection. In M. Hayden, J. Levy & J. J. Thompson (eds.), The Sage handbook of research in international education. London, UK: Sage Publications Ltd. 447-463.
Fisher, D. (2016). Organizational culture and school leadership. In M. Hayden, J. Levy & J. J. Thompson (eds.), The Sage handbook of research in international education. London, UK: Sage Publications Ltd. 417-432.
International education is going through a lot of changes, and determining how best to create curricula to meet the needs of a rapidly changing student demographic is a present concern. Stobie (2016) higlighted that one of the concerns facing curriculum designers is balancing the application of local and international best practices in curriculum design (pg. 53). The student demographic in international schools is shifting from the past preponderance of mobile, 'Third Culture Kids' to the current majority of local national student enrollment (Bunnel, 2015, pg. 37).
In the past, when international schools tended to be operated by parent collectives made of members of an internationally mobile upper class, the need for common curricula within and in the broader system of international schools was required to counter the costs of running separate classes to prepare students for the different national tests required by their home nations (Bunnel, 2015, pgl 332). 'Classic' international schools, created specifically to promote peace through intercultural communication, also required common curricula to operationalize their visions by allowing students from diverse countries studying the same curriculum in the same classroom (pg. 332).
The switch towards increasing numbers of 'for profit' schools serving local nationals with pragmatic goals that often include post-secondary study abroad in Western nations has made system-wide unified curricula less important, and brought attention to the need to balance local and international approaches. Students hoping to study in Canada, the UK, or America in the future might favor learning from the national curriculum of the nation in which they hope to study in the future. These schools favor the teaching of 21st century skills and English language and often include classes to promote local values as well (Stobie, 2016, pg. 55, 57). Some nations are creating 'international' curricula of their own or seeking out more affordable alternatives to the International Baccalaureate in a push to create workers able to engage in global trade and to increase their rankings on tests like PISA (Stobie, 2016, pg. 57). This has led to the creation of many different international curricula options than were available in the past (Bunnell, 2015, pg. 328).
Despite the time, effort, and money being put into development of international curricula or the adaptation of foreign national curricula to local national contexts, Skelton (2016) makes an argument that, ultimately, international school students don't really need to learn anything different than any other student (pg. 80). He argues that regardless of the latitude and longitude of the school, learning ultimately takes place in the brain, and that the adjective 'international' should be viewed as dispositional rather than locational (pg. 76). He argues that students learn from their repeated experiences, and that the 'hidden curriculum' is likely just as important, if not more important that the curriculum as written when it comes to developing in students the ability to "interact enjoyably with an other" (pg. 74-76).
In the end, no one curriculum will meet the needs of every student. Keeping student learning as the focus, rather than performance, and recognizing student interests when developing curricula stands the best chance of making learning relevant and meaningful (Skelton, 2016, pg. 73; Stobie, 2016, pg. 54). Much as Stobie (2016) describes the 'Confucian' classroom culture's student silence as having the potential to hide great internal activity and depth of thought despite appearing to western observers and being just a bunch of quiet kids listening to a lectures, we would do well to look past initial appearances when trying to determine the validity of any given approach, and consider the needs of the individual students in question. As Heng (2015) points out, the need to be oneself and honor one's own culture while still learning and growing from the experience of others' cultures is a personal journey of growth that defies standardization.
Skelton (2016) shares a quote from Gardner: "The whole course of human development can be viewed as a decline in egocentrism" and notes that the process of growing in self-confidence and -awareness is a process that doesn't end when you graduate high school, but one that goes on throughout one's entire life (pg. 81). It seems then that the goal of international education, to help students develop the capability to enjoy interacting with those of other cultures and beliefs, is just a slightly more specifically defined goal than that of all of human growth and development. Perhaps creating curricula to meet the needs of international students is not as much of a challenge as we think.
Bunnell, T. (2015). International schools and international curricula: A changing relationship. In: Hayden, M., Levy, J., & Thompson, J. J., (eds.) The Sage Handbook of Research in International Education (2nd ed.). London, U. K.: Sage. 325-336.
Skelton, M. (2016). What should students learn in international schools? In Hayden, M., & Thompson, J. J. (eds.) International schools: Current issues and future prospects. Symposium Books, Oxford. 71-83.
Stobie, T. (2016). The curriculum battleground. In Hayden, M., & Thompson, J. J. (eds.) International schools: Current issues and future prospects. Oxford: Symposium Books. 53-70.
TEDx Talks/TEDxUWCAdriatic. Heng, S. D. (2015, Jul 14). What an international education inspires. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgHzVwgvk3M
International Schools are known for having diverse student bodies, with respect to both the demographics of the individual schoolhouse and when compared from one school to another. The community of parents and teachers that grows up around an international school is similarly diverse. Parents may be wealthy locals, internationally employed middle- or upper-class expatriate workers, or often international school teachers and administrators working for the school. (Hayden, 2006, pg. 22) Likewise, teachers in international schools are an eclectic bunch, ranging from typically long-term expatriate administrators, to short-term contracted international teaching faculty, to locally hired low-paid staff (pg. 74).
The pragmatic goals of local nationals who elect to send their children to international schools rather than studying within the national system include developing alternative 'international' identities in their children, and preparing their children for mobility within the global economy (pg. 37). They may become very involved in their child's school-life, hoping to ensure that their child achieve good exam scores and that they are taught to high standards of achievement and discipline to ensure that their pragmatic goals are being met (pg. 32). When choosing a school, they may seek out options that allow students to maintain their cultural identity though local language or culture classes (pg. 32), often one of the few instances in which local national teachers are favored by parents over expats in international school settings (pg. 77). As they likely are paying a significant amount 'out-of-pocket' for their child's education, they may be selective about expensive 'extra' programs involving trips abroad or the like (pg. 32).
Expatriate parents sending their children to international schools may have different motivations. Often, unlike host country nationals, they may have little to no choice in whether or not to send their children to an international school, and further, in which international school to choose (pg. 31). Their desire to maintain the family's cultural identity in their children may limit them to schools that cater to their particular language and culture (pg. 33). Often, parents choose English language schools should a home national school be unavailable (pg. 33). While local national parents are often involved in their child's international school education for pragmatic reasons, expatriate parents may find themselves more involved that they would be in their home nation for other reasons.
The stresses faced by expatriate parents, especially trailing spouses, in dealing with culture shock may lead them to see the international school as a bastion in which they can communicate and experience something more closely resembling their home culture (pg. 24-26). Some schools have incorporated parent rooms and activities into their buildings and programming to meet these needs (pg. 26).
Teacher-parents find themselves in a unique situation as both educators within schools and 'customers' of them. They are expatriates in need of appropriate schooling for their children much like those abroad working in other fields, and also often receive subsidized or waived tuition fees for their children (pg. 28). As such, often around 5% of the students in a given international school will be children of staff (pg. 28). These teacher-parents are face challenges integrating themselves into their children's school-lives in appropriate ways. They worry about colleagues having high expectations of their children, feel extra stress when their children misbehave, and are often reluctant to lobby for thier children to avoid raising suspicion should their child be very successful (pg. 29). Most feel that these challenges are offset by the benefit of their child's increased status in the school, their access to their child during the day, and the benefit their children receive by viewing teachers as 'friends' of their parents (pg. 29).
Regardless of parents' backgrounds, most parents of international school students have high expectations of their children and value education (pg. 21). Who are the teachers in international schools tasked with meeting these elevated expectations?
Hayden (2006) expresses that, in order to achieve their internationalist visions, international schools should hire staff that are representative of major cultures within the world as much as possible, and that ideally the individuals teaching in the school should have prior experience adapting to live abroad (pg. 76). Few would argue with this philosophically, but practical challenges to creating such diverse faculties arise due to the realities of government immigration policies, taxes, and work permits and the desire for native English speaking instructors expressed by parents (pg. 76-77). Challenges to selecting faculty arise due to the global nature of the search: large job fairs located in major centers and phone or video interviews are two ways in which administrators meet this challenge (pg. 80).
Teachers may be new to the international teaching field, or long-term expats. Among new teachers, Hayden describes three types: childless professionals, mavericks, and career professionals with families (pg. 76). Long-term expatriate teachers fill similar 'classes', but also include individuals who have stayed in one country for extended periods due to long-term relationships with host country nationals.
Whether long-term or new to the field, teachers in international schools tend to move around a lot, resulting in high turnover (pg. 88). This is a challenge for school administrators in a number of ways. In addition to having to deal frequently with the hiring challenges mentioned above, it also makes it difficult to maintain a constant school vision with staff of different backgrounds and experiences (pg. 88). Teachers often experience stress due to he need to adapt frequently to new school cultures, curricula, and expectations and schools need to protect their investment against failure (pg. 83). Hayden (2006) notes that one way to address this is by carefully differentiating induction or orientation processes to meet the needs of new teachers both at the start of their contracts and throughout the first part of their employment (pg. 85-86).
The challenges of expatriate life and contact between different cultures affects not only the students at international schools, but also the teachers and parents. Administrators need to be aware of these forces and adapt teacher training, student counseling, and parent services to best meet the unique needs of the school communities that they serve. Despite being located in far-off lands abroad, life in an international school community is no vacation!
Hayden, M. (2006). International schools and parents. Introduction to international education: International schools and their communities. London, UK: Sage Publications Ltd. 21-39.
Hayden, M. (2006). Teachers. Introduction to international education: International schools and their communities. London, UK: Sage Publications Ltd. 73-92.
Matthew Boomhower is a mid-career educator with 15 years of classroom teaching and educational leadership experience. He is Director at a private elementary school. in South Korea. Matthew has lived in Seoul since 2004, and is a proud husband and father.