International School Aut | 2019 | Volume 21 | Issue 3
The magazine for international educators
A model for differentiation techniques Education in Silicon Valley | Focus on mental health and wellbeing | Balancing sport with school
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We should always remember that innovative educational methods and trends will only function with real human connections. We can only improve our education when we teach with our heart and mind. Doruk Gurkan, page 44
in this issue... comment Your magazine, your views, Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson
responses Growth and the emerging supply-side concerns, Tristan Bunnell 7 Interpreting the ‘international school’ label and the theme of identity, Heather Meyer 11
features Balance and belonging: a recipe for wellbeing in international schools? Angie Wigford and Andrea Higgins 15 Home teachings, abroad, Stephen Spriggs 18 Is the IB meeting the needs of our times? Mikki Korodimou 19 ‘So did your Daddy cry when the car died?’, Natalie Shaw and Lauren Rondestvedt 21 The important role of senior leaders in mentally healthy schools, Margot Sunderland 23 Pupils with autism are twice as likely to be bullied – what can teachers do? Tania Marshall 25 Looking through the Crystal Ball, Naaz Fatima Kirmani 27 Will my son be a global citizen? Hedley Willsea 29 Are we able to slay the educational Leviathan? Andrew Watson 31 Pressure cooker education in Silicon Valley, Sally Thorogood 33 What global educators need to know about teacher wellbeing, Mitesh Patel 73
curriculum, learning and teaching
Is education the answer to the biggest challenges facing the planet? Ivan Vassiliev 35 The thesis sits smugly on the shelf, Adam Poole 37 How do student-athletes balance sport and education? Anne Louise Williams 39 Inquiring together: student and teacher collaboration Victoria Wasner 42 Lost in education, Doruk Gurkan 44 Meaningful and holistic integration of mathematics content in life, Stefanos Gialamas and Angeliki Stamati 46 Are IB students prepared to defend against ‘fake news’? Shane Horn 49 Different strokes, Nicky Dulfer 51
regulars Fifth column: Dr Neely’s dilemma, E T Ranger 55 Science matters: Bad science and serious consequences! Richard Harwood 57 Forthcoming conferences 58
people and places The IB turned 50 in 2018! This is how we celebrated, Mickie Singleton 59 Sister schools and study tours – a passport to the world, Brendan Hitchens 61 Striving to serve our island community, Daniel Slevin 63
Sage on the Screen, by Bill Ferster, reviewed by Tim Metcalfe 67 Teaching and Learning for Intercultural Understanding, by Debra Rader reviewed by Gustavo M Lanata 69 The Learning Rainforest, by Tom Sherrington, reviewed by Wayne Richardson 71
Your magazine, your views Editors Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson invite contributions on mental health and wellbeing One of the pleasures of editing International School magazine, we have found, is not only the interaction it brings with the many authors and potential authors who make contact with ideas for contributions, and the opportunity for us to read so many accounts of the interesting and exciting things that are happening around the world in international schools (and indeed in internationally-minded schools in national systems), but also the reassurance afforded by such communications that our Comment column itself finds a readership. That this is the case has been evident most recently from the responses received – both positive and negative – to our suggestion in the IS58 Comment column (volume 20 issue 1) that the term Third Culture Kid is outdated and in need of replacement. We have been pleased to include such responses in subsequent issues of IS, and are happy to see that the points made are still in readers’ minds: in this issue, for instance, Hedley Willsea makes reference to it in his article speculating on what the future might hold for his young (TCK) son. More recently, our invitation to comment on the term international school (IS61, volume 21 issue 1) has led to further contributions – in one case somewhat controversially in respect of the anonymity granted to our contributor to Comment (IS62). We are pleased to be able to include in this (IS63) issue two further articles on this topic, from Tristan Bunnell and Heather Meyer. Do please keep them coming! Although we did not set out to identify a specific theme for the current issue, two articles coincidentally draw attention to a topic that is of increasing relevance and concern in systems of education nationally and also, it is now clear, in the international school sector. The issue can broadly be described as mental health and wellbeing, and the article by Andrea Higgins and Angie Wigford (the latter an experienced international school teacher now working as an educational psychologist) raises many issues with which teachers and leaders in international schools will identify. Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson Editors Jonathan Barnes Editorial Director James Rudge Production Director Alex Sharratt Managing Director For Editorial enquiries contact Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson Email: email@example.com Website: www.is-mag.com International School© is published by John Catt Educational Ltd, 15 Riduna Park, Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 1QT, UK Company registration 5762466
Margot Sunderland’s article on the role of senior leaders in what she describes as mentally healthy schools provides further food for thought with respect to similar concerns. For future issues of IS magazine, we encourage contributions relating to mental health and wellbeing from those who are facing the challenges of supporting students in international schools to cope with the pressures they encounter in their formative years. While there may be little doubt that young people face growing pressures as the 21st century progresses, the issues are complex and the means of addressing them no less so. Media reports of suicide in university students, recent data showing the doubling in a decade of antidepressant prescriptions (across age groups) in England, increasing awareness of the pressures on school and university students arising from social media and the negative as well as positive uses to which it is put, all set against a backdrop of political uncertainties on a global scale, make clear that these are challenging times in which to be moving towards adulthood. Amongst the many uncertainties of today’s world, however, what is certain is that teachers in international schools will not only be increasingly aware of the growing pressures on students, but will also be developing support systems to accommodate and alleviate them. We hope to be able to share with readers of future IS issues suggestions, ideas, and examples of good practice – please do get in touch if you can help us to do so.
We’d like to hear your thoughts on this and any other articles in this magazine
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Growth and the emerging supplyside concerns What does a surge in school numbers mean for the historic and traditional values of the international school sector? asks Tristan Bunnell The K-12 English-medium ‘international school’ market is set for unprecedented growth. Figures released by ISC Research (Glass, 2018) suggest that the number of schools will double by 2027. Further, the number of students and staff, and fee revenue, is expected to more than double. It is predicted that between 2017 and 2022 there will be an extra 3,150 schools and 2.35 million children. The decade up to 2027 will involve an extra 7,200 schools and 5.6 million children. These figures show that we are witnessing what have been described (Machin, 2017) as ‘gold rush’ conditions, with the forces of demand (led by globalisation) and supply (led by neo-liberal policy-making) being historically aligned. The eventual lifting (Marsh, 2017) of the cap on ‘locals’ attending schools in Vietnam is testament to that, as the government there attempts both to attract foreign investment and to reduce the talent brain-drain. But such levels of growth inevitably bring forward concerns. It was stated in the previous Comment section of this magazine by editors Hayden and Thompson that ‘the social and political contexts in which the [international] school exists may pose strong challenges to the values underpinning the nature of the education that it promotes’. An accompanying piece, written by an anonymous educator, was provocatively titled The rise of ‘illiberal international schools’? and addressed the thorny issue of schools ‘which receive significant funding from national entities whose political discourse, action, and impact is in conflict with the humanitarian values that the international school movement has long championed’. This is a relatively new and under-explored narrative. Previously, discussion has tended to focus on the demand-
side of growth. Who are the ‘new consumers’? Are there still ‘Third Culture Kids’? What can we call the new types of forprofit, branded schools that have emerged constituting what I previously termed (Bunnell, 2014) the ‘post-ideal’ mode of operation? What is the ‘institutional primary task’ (Bunnell, Fertig and James, 2017) of these schools? Such issues are still important, and need more discussion, but the lens of inquiry has now begun to turn to the supply-side of growth. Who is funding the growth? Why are governments relaxing regulations? Where is the profit going? The location, and indeed the political context, is clearly a growing concern as our anonymous writer points out. That discussion resonates with discussion a few years ago about ‘international aid’ being given by nations such as Denmark to overseas nation-states that helped politically to prop-up illiberal governments; the term ‘Dead Aid’ was coined to reflect this issue (a cynical play on the ‘Live Aid’ concerts of the 1980s). However, other dimensions that have been largely overlooked are slowly emerging from the dark. The recent sale of UK-based Cognita, which in 2018 was operating 68 schools in eight countries, offers a useful real-world example. The company was bought in August 2018 by Jacobs Holdings, a Swiss-based firm with a wealth partly derived from the manufacture of coffee and cocoa. What was arguably even more significant was that two potential bidders for Cognita were Temasek Holdings, a major Singapore ‘Sovereign Wealth Fund’ with assets worth USD 200bn, alongside another Singaporean wealth fund, GIC (formerly known as Government of Singapore Investment Company) with assets of USD 360bn (Kleinman, 2018). The entry into the
What we have here is a complex situation where the assets of one nation-state are being used to fund the growth and development of private schools in another nation-state. Winter
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international school market of ‘Sovereign Wealth Funds’ is not entirely new, with Bahrain’s Mumtalakat Holding Company being probably the best known. Assets come primarily from surplus revenues from Bahrain’s oil and gas reserves. What we have here is a complex situation where the assets of one nation-state are being used to fund the growth and development of private schools in another nation-state. In my latest book (Bunnell, 2019) I refer to this situation as a form of ‘Inter-National Education’. Moreover, we also have a problematic situation where the origins of the funds may compromise the values of the schools in which they are invested. I now see this as a form of ‘post-ethical’ activity, adding depth to my ‘post-ideal’ model. Wealth derived from oil and coffee production do not sit easily with the mission statements of many traditional ‘international schools’, committed to promoting the sustainability of the planet. This adds considerably to the notion of the ‘illiberal’ school. Put simply, it seems timely to start considering the supply-side of growth. It involves a complex set of forces, some of which undermine and contradict the values for which the field of international schooling traditionally and historically stands.
References Bunnell T (2014) The Changing Landscape of International Schooling: Implications for Theory and Practice. Routledge: Abingdon Bunnell T (2019) International Schooling and Education in the ‘New Era’: Emerging Issues. Emerald Publishing: Bingley Bunnell T, Fertig M and James C (2017) Establishing the legitimacy of a school’s claim to be ‘international’: The provision of an international curriculum as the institutional primary task, Educational Review 69(3), 303-317 Glass D (2018) International school students considering a wider range of study abroad destinations, ICEF Monitor, 21 February. Available via http://monitor.icef.com/2018/02/international-school-studentsconsidering-wider-range-study-abroad-destinations/ Hayden M and Thompson J (2019) Comment, International School, 21(2), 3 Kleinman, M (2018) Swiss family office snaps up £2bn British schools giant Cognita, news.sky.com, 31 August 2018 Machin D (2017) The great Asian International School gold rush: an economic analysis, Journal of Research in International Education 16(2), 131-146 Marsh N (2017) Vietnam: local enrolments at foreign schools expected to grow after cap removed, The PIE News, 17 May 2017
Dr Tristan Bunnell is a lecturer in international education at the University of Bath Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Interpreting the ‘international school’ label and the theme of identity Heather Meyer explores what we actually mean by established terms and boundaries In the most recent issues of International School, there has been an interesting debate on terminology and rhetoric commonly used within international school communities. The interest in the use of the label Third Culture Kid in these issues also highlights the ongoing significance of identity and belonging within international school communities. The popular Third Culture Kid label and the title ‘international school’ have both become increasingly ambiguous as they become distanced from their contexts of origin. The term ‘international school’ today can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and holds varying meanings for different people around the world. I see this as a positive direction, however, as schools may become increasingly responsible for defining the term for themselves – weighing in on the extent to which they intend to interpret the label ‘international school’ literally or symbolically with respect to their individual ideological direction, and according to the requirements and expectations arising from the context in which the school is situated. As schools move towards an increasingly ‘global’ outlook, it is ever more vital to consider the extent to which locality plays a role in such ‘global’ frameworks and ultimately in the institutional identity of each international school. While literal interpretations of the term have led to a degree of homogenised practices and definitions, I argue here that employing a symbolic interpretation of the term encourages customised approaches towards establishing and cultivating institutional, community and individual identity. The term ‘international school’ in a literal sense foregrounds the culturally diverse community of individuals who represent different nationalities at the school, and who ultimately are the basis for the international school system. It reminds us of a world comprised of national boundaries which largely work to reinforce our similarities and differences – linguistically, culturally, ideologically, politically, socially, and so on. Thus when entering international schools, we see (and have seen for decades) similar imagery: a collection of national flags flying high representing many nationalities present at the school, and a conglomeration of national symbols beautifully showcased to demonstrate and support the title of the school. These visuals also hold a sense of cultural value to community members who identify with them. It is also not Winter
uncommon to find events within international schools that work to celebrate the inter-national makeup of the community – the literal coming together of many different nationalities. ‘Intercultural’ days for example have allowed members to represent and perform their nationalities – waving national flags, producing and consuming an assortment of national dishes, and dressing up in national colours and dress. These events not only contribute to the identity of the school as ‘inter-national’, but also help affirm a sense of belonging to (a) national culture(s) for participants. These overt displays of national representation also come in more subtle forms, such as asking a child how they celebrate particular festivities in ‘their’ country, or creating nationality groups within parent-teacher organisations. While these opportunities are geared to empower community members and facilitate a sense of belonging, they also encourage ‘groupism’, which is a form of boundary-drawing and classification. In order to have groups, there needs to be an in-grouping (inclusion) and out-grouping (exclusion) process, even if it is subtle. Nationality-based groupism reinforces a sense of national belonging and, by extension, a sense of nostalgia – it allows us to tap into our past and/or engage with culturally-relevant things with which we can identify and, even for just one moment, feel ‘less foreign’. At the same time, it provides a relatively ‘easy’ means to classify and group oneself and others: those who belong, and those who do not. Socially, it fortifies the habit of classifying others according to national background, and holds students, staff and parent community members responsible for cultural representation – reinforcing the notion that nationality is a central feature of ‘identity’. However as we all know, the cultural backgrounds and trajectories of international school students can be quite complex, fluid and particularly unpredictable. There are therefore some significant tensions between establishing the school in the literal sense as an ‘inter-national’ learning space in which community members represent an array of identifiable nationally-oriented cultures, and in the symbolic sense – as a ‘global’ institution (however the term ‘global’ is to be defined). While the literal interpretation of the term ‘international school’ may lead to practices of groupism,
with all its positive and negative implications, taking more of a symbolic approach may push boundaries further on how ‘culture’ and ‘identity’ are conveyed, understood, and expressed in the school community. Challenging the community to find cultural similarities with others that go far beyond national orientations is a way to encourage a more ‘global’ approach to identity and belonging: that individuals can be a part of many other cultures – football cultures, musical theatre cultures, educational cultures, business cultures, etc. This means continuing to create activities that encourage in-grouping across diverse social fields, and facilitating opportunities which encourage students to conceptualise their own identities as individual, unique, flexible, and thus ‘global’. This can be achieved through increased intercultural engagement with the host society in spaces outside of the international school, with charitable, sport, cultural and social (etc) events and activities. By engaging with this form of cultural diversity, students are able to conceptualise their world in a more complex and fluid manner. On an institutional level, perceiving and defining each international school as a ‘global’ learning space and community situated within a uniquely ‘local’ setting is beneficial to the positionality and identity of the individual institution. Localities can provide ample amounts of intercultural dialogue and exchange that extend beyond nationally-oriented frameworks. Engagement can be beneficial in establishing a sense of belonging and identity in relation to the host society on an individual level, but also on an institutional level.
Schools play an important role in the development of a child’s perception of the world: how they perceive themselves, how they perceive others, and the extent to which they draw boundaries between themselves and others. By extension, these practices of boundary production impact the ways in which students see themselves on a global scale – their aspirations towards future mobility; their perception of their own access to different cultures; and the conception of their position within the world as a ‘global citizen’. Encouraging and facilitating opportunities for students, staff and parents to establish a sense of belonging to cultures that are specifically not rooted through nationality-based groupism or representation does not entirely fit the literal sense of the title ‘inter-national school’. It does, however, follow closely the ideological or symbolic orientation for which schools are currently striving: that of creating global citizens. Dr Heather Meyer is a researcher of international schools, based at Coventry University, UK. Email: email@example.com
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Balance and belonging: a recipe for wellbeing in international schools? Angie Wigford and Andrea Higgins reveal the findings of a survey of 1,000+ teachers What does wellbeing mean to the international school community? What promotes wellbeing and what are the barriers to it in this particular sector? Those were the initial questions upon which we based a survey entitled ‘Perceptions of international school teachers and leaders on their wellbeing and that of their students’. Over 1000 international school teachers from more than 70 countries responded to an online questionnaire which was followed up with 18 individual interviews. The overwhelming response was positive. For example, 90% of the international school teachers who responded said they found their work full of meaning and purpose for most, or all of the time; they were proud of their work and also proud of their ability to support their students’ general wellbeing. At first glance we were very excited by these results. When we delved deeper, however, a more complex picture emerged. We found it helpful to use the balance model of wellbeing (Dodge et al, 2012), whereby wellbeing is achieved when a person has sufficient resources (psychological, social or physical) to successfully address challenges in each area. This idea of balance is commonly
reflected in the literature on resilience and coping strategies (eg Lahad et al, 2013) which are closely related to wellbeing. Key resources identified in our research were: supportive relationships, effective school support systems, robust communication and strong leadership. The challenges that stood out were the pressures of teacher workload, student workload, academic pressure and mobility (mainly in terms of transitioning between schools for both teachers and their students). Teachers really valued positive relationships with their colleagues, their students and even with parents. They talked about enjoying a sense of achievement, being able to make a difference and contribute to the community. Another key aspect of wellbeing for teachers was professional autonomy and being supported to explore creative and innovative approaches to their work. Teachers also reported high levels of student engagement, with friendships, belonging and being included as key features of their students’ wellbeing. Challenges to wellbeing for teachers were around high levels of emotional pressure, and just under half reported ongoing frustration in their work. Many said that their school
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was not concerned about their personal wellbeing. Teachers reported that their students’ challenges included: friendship problems, language issues, lack of sleep and high levels of stress (often due to academic pressure from school and parents). Interestingly there were some indications of a consistent 10% difference in the perception of leaders to that of teachers, with the leaders being more positive. When this research was presented to a group of headteachers at a conference recently, there was an acknowledgement that it is the leaders who set the culture in a school, but in terms of wellbeing one group said ‘the behaviours and skills (around supporting relationships) are challenging to develop even if the knowledge and philosophy are aligned’. This recognises that enhancing wellbeing through promoting better relationships is something easier said than done. Transitions in international schools have an impact and this came up as a key aspect of wellbeing, with experiences of induction and first impressions having a lasting effect. Teachers reported that their students were often significantly affected by moving school, leading to some students giving up on trying to fit in and not wanting to make friends for fear of losing them again. This factor in the wellbeing of students in international schools was identified long ago (see Fail et al, 2004) and continues to be a key challenge with varying levels of recognition, from some schools reporting pre- and postmove contact with annual follow-up to next-to-no support, as noted by one interviewee: ‘At this point we don’t have a strategy. We say ‘Welcome, here’s your uniform, here’s your timetable, let us know if you have any questions’’. Also of concern to us has been an increased awareness, through recent discussions with school counsellors, that there is anecdotal but real evidence of self-harm becoming a common coping strategy for distressed students. There is a risk of self-harm becoming normalised and accepted by students. Schools need to address this but to do so is to necessitate talking about it, something many are reluctant to do. In summary, we would argue that wellbeing for staff and students in an international school can be enhanced by Winter
a focus on the concepts of belonging and coping. Many schools talk about having a caring community, and we would suggest that approaches that enhance belonging and develop emotional coping skills are an important part of that. In a place where a person feels that they are valued and part of a community, their ability to tolerate stress is enhanced and therefore their wellbeing more in balance. A community which supports individuals to develop good relationships and effective coping strategies is similarly more likely to demonstrate resilience at an individual and organisational level. It would be unrealistic to suggest that any one person or organisation can always have ‘good’ wellbeing; stress is a part of life and is often a helpful prompt. Our survey indicated that there are high levels of wellbeing in many international school communities and that a large part of this is based on the fact that there are high levels of psychological, social and physical resources helping to balance out the challenges. References Dodge R, Daly A P, Huyton J & Sanders L D (2012) The challenge of defining wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(3), 222-235. Fail H, Thompson J & Walker G (2004) Belonging, Identity and Third Culture Kids: Life histories of former international school students. Journal of Research in International Education, 3(3), 319-338. Lahad M, Shacham M & Ayalon O (2013) The BASIC Ph Model of Coping and Resiliency: Theory, Research and Cross-Cultural Application. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Wigford A & Higgins A (2019) Wellbeing in International Schools, Available via www.iscresearch.com/resources/wellbeing-ininternational-schools
Angie Wigford is the Lead Educational Psychologist with International Educational Psychology Services Ltd. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Andrea Higgins is Academic Director of the Educational Psychology Doctorate at Cardiff University, Wales. Email: HigginsA2@cardiff.ac.uk
Home teachings, abroad Stephen Spriggs on the transition from national to international school teacher
the class hold up a hand to answer. Yet teaching in the Far East can see this fall flat as a result of the group culture often found in the region, where individuals avoid being singled out by choice and alternative strategies should be employed. Whether it’s something as simple as pulling names out of a hat or creating groups with a ‘team leader’ who is nominated to present their answer to the class, the open back and forth nature of education is one thing to maintain. For first-timers abroad the initial settling-in period may be much rougher, devising a teaching plan with little experience to draw on. If there are more experienced staff around, use them. Every teacher making the decision to move away from their home country is likely to have been through a similar sort of experience: currency exchanges, new cities to explore, new cities to get lost in, new languages and nuances to pick up. Having someone around to learn from whilst also seeing first-hand what aspects of delivery they stuck with may help tremendously. Dealing with classroom management can also be testing to start with. Particularly in countries with rambunctious personalities where the conversation between students is non-stop, you may need to learn a new way of doing things. When it comes to managing the students, behaviour is usually deeply ingrained within the system, meaning a sudden change can result in either a spectacular positive or a damaging negative. Stop/starting a class not only wastes time but can end up harming students not participating in the disruptions by restricting their time to take in what is being taught. Contributing to the development of the future of the next generation is a tough task no matter where you’re doing it, and moving away from the familiarity of home to a destination where the ins and outs of how teaching works can be completely different to what you’re used to presents challenge after challenge. Within the context of your new school, its policies and the advice of your new colleagues, implement what you think is appropriate from your previous training and methods, eliminate what is clearly incompatible with the new culture, and adapt what remains. No matter how you do it, the next generation is in your hands. Stephen Spriggs is Managing Director of William Clarence Education (williamclarence.com). Email: email@example.com
Making the decision to teach abroad, most teaching professionals will take it upon themselves to study their new environment carefully to pick up on the norms and standard techniques applied to their classrooms. Yet, as an international teacher, you bring something new, exotic, and unknown into the class – so how much should you adapt to the situation, and how much of your home country’s system should make the trip overseas with you? The initial culture shock of a new country may wear off for seasoned travellers, accustomed to making moves across continents in search of their next challenge, but it’s always nice to maintain some creature comforts from home. Why would this be different for your work life? It wouldn’t. In fact, maintaining some semblance of the methods picked up at home can go a long way in facilitating a smoother transition period than attempting to take on everything at once. In addition to the stress of physically moving your life, there’s also the psychological impact of a new classroom of students from a different culture all looking at you for guidance; it can be testing if there’s a period of total loss as the year begins. As an international teacher, you do not need to adapt to all the norms of the country, but adapt what you can and stay mindful of avoiding any cultural fauxpas. Indeed, the curriculum can differ wildly across different regions; take South Korea for example where the education business is a big deal with hagwons at night and a great academic focus in the day. Finding a balance to start with is key to success. Upon first arrival take the time to absorb what is happening, who is dealing with whom, how are the students responding to the existing staff, and where do you fit in with the new system? If you’ve been teaching in England and you’re moving to an international school teaching the English national curriculum, the amount of change may be minimal; after all the parents have sent their children to the school specifically for a British-style education which you provide with aplomb. In this instance, not totally adapting to an overseas style of teaching can work in your favour; there will be less necessity to change the way you work if the class you deliver to are there specifically for your style of teaching. One aspect that you may take with you is the position of the teacher within the classroom; how do you and the students interact? A sure fire home-run from back home may fall flat in a new cultural setting. Question and answer sessions, for example, are common in many Western-style classrooms. They’re hard to get wrong; simply ask and have
Is the IB meeting the needs of our times? We must acknowledge the ‘certainty of uncertainty’, writes Mikki Korodimou Practising education that ‘meets the needs of our times’ (the founding principle of the Atlantic College project in 1962 (Jonietz and Harris, 2012)) requires an in-depth personal, communal and global exploration to understand what exactly these needs are. Answering this pertinent problem means taking a step back. It demands a critical reflection of where we are at in terms of our educational practices and the world we call home. It asks of us to think about how we have arrived here and perhaps most importantly to reflect upon where we wish to go. Coming into teaching for the first time in January 2018 at UWC Atlantic College was invigorating. It was challenging and it was adrenaline-filled. Learning early on that saying ‘I don’t know’ was OK, I started to feel like the possibilities for exploration in the classroom were infinite. Despite the evident engagement and curiosity ignited in the students, however, when we delved into the unknown the stress of moving away from the security of the syllabus, textbook and marking criteria quickly became apparent. The word Winter
‘assessment’, the dreaded 45 points maximum of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, and the question ‘is this going to be in the exam?’ crept in. Boundaries of time and space for experiential, personal and contextuallybased learning materialised. The focus of education, it seems, is increasingly on the end goal, rather than on the means used to get there. We are turning what should be a learning journey (synonym for life) into a process of accumulation. Whether it be IB points, experiences, or CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) hours in the IB Diploma, we are collecting, without necessarily engaging with value in the process or the interconnected nature of all that we do. The success of the IB over the past 50+ years has been phenomenal; there are numerous benefits of the education provided by the IB Diploma Programme, and countless examples of how the programme can be moulded, tailored and contextualised by passionate and engaged educators. Yet there are also downsides which must not remain in the shadows of our contentedness. In his recent book, David
As you set out for Ithaka, hope that your road is a long one, full of adventures, full of knowledge. Extract from Ithaka by Cavafy Gleason (2017) explores the ways in which competitive educational environments are impacting young people. We are over-scheduling, over-burdening and over-pressuring students. The drive for 45, and to excel, is causing high levels of anxiety and stress. This troubling observation is echoed by young people, parents and educators alike. If (albeit somewhat problematically) we are telling our bright young people that it is up to them to fix the issues in the world today, then we need them to be well in order to do so. We live in a world characterised by uncertainty. In times of uncertainty, we need flexibility and creativity to react. What’s more, we need to have the space to see the connections between all that we do, as only then will we even have a glimpse at the larger picture. So how do we ensure that we create room for space, systemic thinking and flexibility in the rigid and long-engrained systems within which we currently educate? What do we want at the core of education? How do we put wellbeing at the centre of all that we do? Where are we succeeding in our educational approaches and where is there room for additions or improvement? These are all questions which our team of students and staff at UWC Atlantic College have begun to engage with over the course of the past year. The Land and Sea Stewardship project at UWC Atlantic College is a collaboration between students and staff to design a new programme of education that is relevant to the needs of the world of today and its future. Our learning UWC Atlantic College
journey so far has brought about several important lessons. Young people need to have space in which to reflect, to play and to exist without the requirement of making all their time ‘productive’. It is within this space that they will be able to absorb, process and reflect upon the ways in which the things they are learning relate to them. Wellbeing cannot be an addition to the education we currently provide; it must be central to the design of the system. By thinking about education as process and journey, we are able to take a step towards extracting it from the silos that grades and subject disciplines have put it into. Unlike the structured framework in which we currently operate, a more processual journeylike approach could help us to overcome the rigidity of disciplines and groups, and challenge dichotomies such as curricular and extra-curricular education. Learning from place is also extremely valuable. We are beginning to see that as we delve into the depths of the ‘global world’, the ‘local’ is in danger of becoming part of a mythological past. International education is perhaps especially guilty of this. Yet, in international schools across the world, where we revel in the glory of our communal ‘multiculturalness’, perhaps we are at risk of missing out on the lessons we can take from making hosting spaces into places attached to meaning. By attempting to engage in place-based learning, we hope to remedy this, and allow for international education to have space for contextual connections. Where do we go now? Perhaps thinking about what the needs of our times are is the wrong starting point. We should be thinking about designing systems of education (and all other types of systems which hang from it) that are flexible enough to adjust to the needs of the times, both today and beyond. Acknowledging the certainty of uncertainty could allow us to place wellbeing, flexibility and values at the heart of educational design, thus giving space for education to mould to changing climates (political, economic, atmospheric and more). There is a long learning journey ahead for us in this monumental task, but in the same way that Cavafy urged travellers to Ithaca to hope that their road be a long one, we too welcome the lessons and experiences coming our way. References Gleason, D L (2017) At what Cost?: Defending Adolescent Development in Fiercely Competitive Schools. Concord, MA: Developmental Empathy. Jonietz P L & Harris D (2012) World Yearbook of Education 1991: international schools and international education. London: Routledge.
Mikki Korodimou is the Land and Sea Stewardship project leader at UWC Atlantic College. She came into the role having been a student at Atlantic College between 2009 and 2011, and later a Geography and Environmental Systems teacher. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Summer |
‘So did your Daddy cry when the car died?’ Natalie Shaw and Lauren Rondestvedt write about preparing pre-service teachers for supporting children through experiences of bereavement From supporting children through the loss of a pet to framing the death of a family member, the experience of being a significant presence during a time of bereavement is one that all teachers inevitably encounter at various points in their career. As Chadwick (2012) notes, teachers’ appropriate responses towards loss, and their ability to accompany a child or group of children on the journey of coming to terms with death, directly relates to the quality of our schools as places of emotional security and inclusion, as well as places where challenging human experiences can be explored intellectually. At ITEps (International Teacher Education for Primary Schools: the first full bachelor’s programme to train students to become teachers in international primary schools), the topic was approached with Year 1 student teachers in conjunction with a design-based education book project, during which the experience of death was one possible focus for students to address in their children’s book. However, the issue clearly has wider significance, with regards to general pastoral responsibilities as well as with a view towards the inherently intercultural teaching and learning situations that students will encounter throughout their careers. Familiar with the caution regarding narrow narratives about human experience (Atrey, 2016), students were invited to a workshop about bereavement, where the topic was explored from a broad perspective, whilst reflecting the plethora of understandings of death that are present in our schools. Negating attempts to classify children’s understanding of the concept of death in stages related to age (Chadwick, 2012), the session explicitly drew on approaches that focus on the agency of children (Mahon, 2011; Esser et al, 2016) and acknowledged that a myriad of factors contributes to children’s expertise with regards to the concept of death. Students heard that intellectual, personal and cultural aspects equally contribute to a child’s expertise: intellectually, an accurate understanding of core bodily functions enhances a child’s scientific understanding. On a personal level, prior experience with loss provides a child with expertise through lived experience, whereas the prevalence of death and metaphysical ideas present in a particular culture shape the Winter
child’s exposure to and acceptance of death as a part of life (Mahon, 2011). Language was identified as a key factor in providing honesty and accuracy. Grollman (2013) warns of the danger of framing death in ways that may instil fears in children with regards to regular experiences of life: the idea that death may be explained as ‘having gone to sleep’ may lead to children avoiding bedtime for fear of ‘disappearing’ overnight. In particular, communication was explored with regards to attachment theory, and the necessity to enable children to conceptualise the experience in ways that facilitate continued secure attachment. Attachment theory as a method of framing a child’s experience of grief was introduced broadly to students, and the three main styles were outlined: secure, anxious and avoidant. Research regarding attachment styles and grief has suggested that the attachment style of a child has an impact on that child’s coping styles and needs, as explored by Stroebe (2002) which has provided a model for categorizing adaptive or
Understanding children’s grief is a complicated process that began on the assumption that children’s grief mirrors that of adults.
Features implications of both ethnic and religious culture on the perception of death and the grieving process, while also highlighting the influence of popular culture (PenfoldMounce, 2018) and family culture (Thieleman, 2015). The real-life example in a Middle-Eastern teaching context of a mismatch between a well-intended, Western teacherinitiated grieving session and local children’s surprise at the expectation that they should be sad about a community death enabled students to reflect on the intersection of these influences. In conclusion, students were invited to draw on all aspects that had been discussed in the session as ‘diagnostic tools’, assessing every situation they might encounter in practice as a new and unique manifestation of a universal experience, and to use their newly gained insight flexibly to determine the best possible course of support. References
Chadwick A (2012) Talking about Death and Bereavement in School. How to Help Children Aged 4-11 to Feel Supported and Understood. London: Kingsley. Dyregrov A & Dyregrov K (2013) Complicated grief in children: the perspectives of experienced professionals. OMEGA-Journal of Death and Dying, 67(3), 291-303. Esser F, Baader M, Betz T & Hungerland B (2016) Conclusion: potentials of a reconceptualised concept of agency. In Esser F, Baader M, Betz T & Hungerland B (eds) Reconceptualising Agency and Childhood: New perspectives in Childhood Studies. Abingdon: Routledge. Grollman E (2013) Explaining Death to Children and to Ourselves. In Papadatos C & Papadatou D (eds), Children and Death. Philadelphia: Hemisphere. Konigsberg R D (2011) The truth about grief: The myth of its five stages and the new science of loss. New York: Simon and Schuster. Kübler-Ross E (1969) On death and dying. New York: The Macmillan Company. Mahon M (2011) Death in the Lives of Children. In Talwar V, Harris P & Schleifer M (eds), Children’s Understanding of Death: From Biological to Religious Conceptions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Packman W, Horsley H, Davies B & Kramer R (2006) Sibling bereavement and continuing bonds. Death Studies, 30(9), 817-841. Penfold-Mounce R (2018) Death, The Dead and Popular Culture. Bingley: Emerald. Stroebe M S (2002) Paving the way: From early attachment theory to contemporary bereavement research. Morality, 7(2), 127-138. Stroebe M, Schut H & Boerner K (2017) Cautioning health-care professionals: Bereaved persons are misguided through the stages of grief. OMEGA-Journal of Death and Dying, 74(4), 455-473. Thieleman K (2015) Epilogue: Grief, Bereavement and Ritual Across Cultures. In Cacciatore J & DeFrain J (eds) The World of Bereavement: Cultural Perspectives on Death in Families. New York: Springer.
Dr. Natalie Shaw is a lecturer in Educational Studies at Stenden University, The Netherlands Email: email@example.com Lauren Rondestvedt is a Masters student in Educational Sciences at The University of Groningen, The Netherlands Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Summer |
maladaptive coping. However, understanding children’s grief is a complicated process that began on the assumption that children’s grief mirrors that of adults (Dyregrov & Dyregrov, 2013). Historically, ‘letting go’ or ‘moving on’ from grief was seen as the means to closure. Packman et al (2006) explored the concept of continuing bonds as a means to support ongoing attachment, specifically related to children. Based on research and personal stories, students heard ways in which children could maintain a healthy relationship with the deceased individual in a way that supported secure attachment while clarifying to the child that the person was no longer physically present. The overall goal in supporting children in grief through attachment is not to confirm children’s fears of abandonment (anxious) nor to suggest that they should never expect attachment in the first place (avoidant). With a view to promoting secure and healthy attachment, students were provided with the concept of resilience, and the importance of fostering resilience in children in a multitude of ways. In this way, they can support children in overcoming small challenges and changes in an effort to equip them with tools for coping. To outline the manifestation of grief, the 5 stages of grieving (Kübler-Ross, 1969) were presented as a broad framework for understanding. At its conception, these stages were believed to occur in sequence, and unsuccessful resolution of one stage prevented movement to the next. Recently, these stages as a sequential process have been ‘debunked’ (Koningsberg, 2011) but have remained as descriptors of possible phases. As Phyllis R Silverman (principal investigator of the Harvard Child Bereavement Study) suggested, grief does not end at a particular time. Stroebe et al (2017) emphasized that grief is a system of complex emotions and processes, and that individual factors should be considered. The takeaway message for students was to use the stages as possible manifestations of grief, but be aware that each individual will vary in the way grief is experienced. Relating both to the manifestations of grief and to the general concept of death, cultural influences were further explored. The facilitators took care to examine the different
Atrey S (2016) “The Danger of a Single Story”: Introducing Intersectionality in Fact-Finding. In Alston P & Knuckey S (eds), The Transformation of Human Rights Fact-Finding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The important role of senior leaders in mentally healthy schools Margot Sunderland offers some guidance to help support students and teachers Heads and senior leaders keen to ensure their school is a mentally healthy environment really do have their work cut out. Research on international school wellbeing conducted by Cardiff University School of Psychology and International Educational Psychology Services (Wigford and Higgins, 2019), flagged that supportive relationships, healthy communication, effective support systems and clear, strong leadership are the most important factors for positive staff and student wellbeing in international schools. For headteachers, such a responsibility may appear a Herculean task, especially as senior leaders’ own emotional requirements also need to be met. Many senior leaders are overwhelmed by heavy workloads and the need to constantly improve attainment, making it difficult for them to provide mental health support for teachers and students – a point they must inevitably address. So what can be done? Here are our top six tips: Senior leaders need to prioritise their own psychological support Counselling brings down toxic stress (which is dangerous to the immune system and a key factor triggering mental ill-health) to tolerable stress – heads should attend twice weekly therapy sessions where they can off-load, weep, howl, rage in front of someone who truly understands. ‘Psychological hazards’ health checks for teachers and a shift to psychologically aware, warm and empathic whole-school cultures This involves putting in place a system of valuing teachers and removing the psychological hazards of shame and blame. Research shows that feeling valued is key to mental health, whereas shame triggers the same reaction in the body as physical injury (Dickerson et al, 2014). To this end, one head adopted the ‘I wish my headteacher knew’ intervention. It’s a simple written note exercise for teachers (which can be anonymised) – a derivation of the intervention ‘I wish my teacher knew’ used by teachers keen to really understand the issues that students were facing. Unsurprisingly the teachers wrote back: ‘We don’t feel valued’. This was a wake-up call for the head and senior leaders who then began to focus on Winter
making time to acknowledge and appreciate members of staff. This head also started and ended the week with several small talking circles for staff at which they could express their feelings about school and home (led by a teacher trained in group facilitation). A shift from a culture of blame regarding test results to a culture of support for teacher-student relational health will also have a positive impact on students’ mental health. Research shows that the more securely attached children are to teachers, the better their behaviour and the higher their grades (Bergin and Bergin, 2009). Bringing down toxic stress to tolerable stress for teachers Heads have a responsibility to find ways of bringing down teachers’ toxic stress to tolerable stress levels. A quick ‘therethere’ chat in the corridor before the teacher’s next lesson is not sufficient to reduce toxic stress levels. Rather, it’s important to ensure that staff have access to an oxytocin (anti-stress neurochemical) releasing environment on a daily basis e.g. a work-free sensory staff-only zone with time to use it built into the school timetable. It needs to include some of the following elements which we know from neuroscience triggers oxytocin and opioids: • Warm lights (uplighters) • Colour • Soothing music • Lovely smells • Comforting fabric • External warmth heating the body (e.g. electric blankets) • Open fire DVD (Uvnas-Moberg, 2011) Bringing down toxic stress to tolerable stress for students Many children arrive at school in an emotional state not conducive to learning – this could be due to troubled home
lives or other external factors. There are many neuroscience research-backed interventions designed to bring down stress levels in vulnerable children from toxic to tolerable. These are best implemented at the beginning of the school day and include:
clearly to ensure that they have got the message, coupled with a formal valuing of each individual child in terms of their special qualities: eg kindness, generosity, perseverance, explorative drive.
• Replacing detention room with meditation room (research shows improved learning and less bad behaviour)
Conclusion Responsibility for mental health in schools should not simply rest on the shoulders of headteachers. What is required is international recognition of the importance of monitoring the mental health culture of every school –a governing bodies, trust boards and directors need to make staff wellbeing, as well as student wellbeing, key performance indicators for our schools.
• Sensory play
• Time with animals or time outside
Bergin C & Bergin D (2009) Attachment in the Classroom. Educational Psychology Review, 21, 141-170.
• Tai chi • Mindfulness
All of these interventions support learning and protect against toxic stress-induced physical and mental illness. Train key members of staff to become ‘emotionallyavailable adults’ for vulnerable children There is a wealth of evidence-based research showing that having daily and easy access to at least one specific emotionally-available adult, and knowing when and where to find that adult, is a key factor in preventing mental illhealth in children and young people – it’s called social buffering. If the child does not take to the designated adult, an alternative person should be found. Create a policy around testing and exam stress Heads need to ensure students understand that their selfworth and the worth of others cannot be measured simply by tests and exams. This needs to be communicated very
Dickerson S, Grunewald T & Kemeny M (2004) When the Social Self Is Threatened: Shame, Physiology, and Health, Journal of Personality, 72(6), 1191-1216 Uvnas-Moberg, K (2011) The Oxytocin Factor, London: Pinter and Martin Ltd Wigford A & Higgins A (2019) Wellbeing in International Schools, Available via www.iscresearch.com/resources/wellbeing-ininternational-schools
Dr Margot Sunderland is Director of the Centre for Child Mental Health (www.childmentalhealthcentre. org), a non-profit organisation that provides mental health training in schools, and CoDirector of Trauma Informed Schools UK (www.traumainformedschools.org). Email: email@example.com
• Accompanied drumming
Pupils with autism are twice as likely to be bullied – what can teachers do? Tania Marshall considers a nuanced approach Primary pupils with special educational needs are twice as likely as other children to be bullied, according to the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education (2014), while according to the World Health Organization, 1 in 160 children have an autism spectrum disorder (WHO, 2018). Learning and socialising with neurotypical children can pose a challenge for pupils with autism who find it hard to read facial expressions and body language, and have difficulties understanding the intentions of their peers. They may also prefer to play alone, which sets them up as targets in the playground, with other children finding it easier to pick on them as they do not have a support structure around them. Individuals with autism are more likely than their neurotypical peers to be victims of bullying. They can, however – usually unintentionally – bully others due to their high sense of justice, misinterpretation of social cues or their rigid belief that they are right. In these situations, it is likely the autistic pupil did not intend to bully, or was unaware she/he was behaving in such a way. Looking specifically at girls with autism, females on the spectrum are set up by the very nature of a combination of their traits to be taken advantage of and vulnerable to the ill intentions of others. These traits include:
outer edges or have a boy as a friend), teachers often do not recognise that the girl is having difficulties. There are a few ways in which teachers can counteract the likelihood of a pupil with autism being bullied. It is extremely important to educate all pupils about autism and tolerance of difference. Pupils with autism could also be assigned a ‘neurotypical buddy’ who makes sure the pupil is safe and supported. Friendship skill acquisition, from as young an age as possible, is crucial for pupils with autism to learn. The best basis for this is through interests held in common with peers. Pupils with autism should also be provided with alternatives to the less structured parts of the school day such as break times and lunchtime. Some examples are lunchtime clubs or library activities. This is important because allowing a child on the spectrum out into the playground is akin to placing a person in a literal minefield. A ‘social bomb’ is going to go off; it’s just a matter of when, where, how, and who is involved. Those who are being bullied often hide it due to their fear of it getting worse, so it can be challenging to spot signs of a pupil with autism being bullied. Outward signs usually include crying, refusing to go to school, hiding in certain areas of the school, and/or clinging to the teacher or other staff member.
• high sympathy or emotional empathy • social naivety • misinterpreting other people’s intentions • being less able to read facial expressions and body language • not understanding the unwritten social rules • being overly idealistic about relationships • social immaturity Socially, in primary school, girls with autism tend to be included in groups by neurotypical girls and taken care of. Neurotypical girls may take a girl with autism under their wing and the girl with autism will mimic and copy them. Boys with autism, on the other hand, tend to spend time alone and are more likely to be bullied in primary school. Due to the fact that girls with autism appear to be part of a group (although they often flit between groups, stay on the Winter
Those who are being bullied often hide it due to their fear of it getting worse, so it can be challenging to spot signs of a pupil with autism being bullied.
Schools also have an important role to play in teaching pupils with autism about hygiene, independence and resilience, self-esteem, managing bullying, and career planning.
• understanding the social world • understanding instructions • being misunderstood and misunderstanding others • being bullied for being different (whether that be because they are ‘odd’, ‘quirky’, ‘eccentric’, ‘out of the box thinkers’, or ‘weird’ – as described by neurotypical pupils) There are also many misconceptions about autism which result from stigma about what autism should look like and a lack of research, books, training programmes and interventions for females. One such misconception is that autistic girls do not have any strengths, and this is inaccurate. Many girls with autism have a multitude of strengths, some of which can include: attention to detail, perfectionism (a
double-edged sword), perfect or near-relative perfect pitch, acting skills, artistic and creative skills, writing skills, caring skills, great skills with animals, loyalty, determination and tenacity, high IQ, dance and athletic ability, and many more. It is important for teachers to take a strength-based approach to teaching pupils with autism to offset their tendency towards self-deprecation, alongside instilling values of acceptance, inclusion and tolerance among all pupils. The type of teacher a pupil with autism has can make or break their school experience – teachers who are patient, creative, accepting and intuitive can help children with autism to thrive in the school environment. References UCL Institute of Education (2014) Children with Special Educational Needs Twice as Likely to be Bullied, Study Finds, Accessed via https:// childnc.net/children-with-special-educational-needs-twice-as-likelyto-be-bullied-study-finds/ World Health Organization (2018) Autism Spectrum Disorders, Accessed via www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/autism-spectrumdisorders
Tania Marshall MSc is an author, psychologist, AspienGirl Project lead for girls with Autism or Asperger Syndrome, and Autism Ambassador for Education Placement Group. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If the pupil is selectively mute, try having them write or draw about the issue. This is important because the pupil may not understand the difference between teasing, nasty behaviours and bullying. Schools also have an important role to play in teaching pupils with autism about hygiene, independence and resilience, self-esteem, managing bullying, and career planning. Another very important factor is training that focuses on reducing vulnerabilities and increasing safety and self-advocacy. In terms of the cyber world, while girls with autism are intuitively skilled at using the internet they are socially naive and vulnerable to internet predators, so online safety teaching is a must. Some of the other major challenges young people with autism face in the school environment are:
Looking through the Crystal Ball Naaz Fatima Kirmani offers a glimpse of the changing educational landscape and the impact of new technologies The unprecedented digital transformation of recent years has ushered in an intense technology-driven world. We now live in an increasingly diverse, globalised, complex and media-saturated society. Technology and its effect is by far the most popular topic concerning 21st century learning and education. The rapid advancement in educational technology calls for radical changes in the way we think about intelligence, education and human resources, in order to meet the extraordinary challenges of living and working in the 21st century. While we may not be able to peer into the future to ascertain what skills will be important 10 years from now, it is possible to examine trends that have changed the demands of work and life in the recent past and continue to do so today. In both developed and developing nations, young people have become increasingly reliant on social networking technologies to connect, collaborate, learn and create – while employers have begun to seek out new skills to increase their competitiveness in a global marketplace. Education, meanwhile, has changed much less. Schools are faced with perhaps one of the greatest challenges – engaging students and creating excitement about learning. With few exceptions, school systems have yet to revise the way they operate in order to reflect current trends and technologies. The future growth and stability of our global economy depends on the ability of education systems around the world to prepare all students for career opportunities and help them to attain higher levels of achievement. However, despite numerous efforts to improve educational standards, school systems around the world are struggling to meet the demands of 21st century learners and employers. When we actually reflect on educational experiences, it’s difficult not to conclude that few schooling experiences teach job skills which are needed in the present world. Seldon (2018) describes the first education revolution as having focused on organised learning from others through family units, groups or tribes, while the second education revolution related to the coming of institutionalised education in the form of schools and universities. The third education revolution, which started in the 1950s, gave rise to issues related to inequity in access to educational opportunities, administrative workload for teachers, lack of training and pedagogical support. It continued to support a capitalist model of education, with the privatisation of education and in various contexts the limiting of access to a privileged class. These issues can be well managed, Winter
leveraging the technology positively to economise time and effort, and reaching out to the disadvantaged group of students in society. A recent report by the World Economic Forum (2018) states that, by 2022, today’s newly emerging occupations are set to grow from 16% to 27% of the employee base of large firms globally, while job roles currently affected by technological obsolescence are set to decrease from 31% to 21%. In purely quantitative terms, 75 million current job roles may be displaced by the shift in the division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms, while 133 million new job roles may emerge at the same time. All this indicates that we have reached a ‘tipping point’ in education that requires us to explore a new and broad model which bridges the gap between formal education and vocational skills needed for a future world. It’s time to reimagine this educational model in order to create a fairer and broader system for young people which promotes a combination of skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication, problem-solving and resilience, along with the requisite knowledge of subject disciplines. Mobile and assistive technologies have brought in a fresh approach to creating learning opportunities and making it possible for learners to access digital content in a more personalised manner than ever before. Such technology can be a powerful partner for assisting changes
With few exceptions, school systems have yet to revise the way they operate in order to reflect current trends and technologies.
learners. As Sir Ken Robinson has aptly remarked (2011), ‘Our task is to educate their [our students’] whole being so they can face the future. We may not see the future, but they will – and our job is to help them make something of it’. Sir Ken reminds us that education is about more than just learning facts and feeding them back through tests; it is about learning how to think, how to apply difficult concepts, how to create something meaningful or provocative, and how to contribute to the growth of the individual and that of society. References Robinson K (2011) Out of Our Minds: learning to be creative, Chichester: Capstone Publishing Ltd. Accessed via www.fredkemp.com/5365su12/ robinsonchpt123.pdf Seldon A with Abidoye O (2018) The Fourth Education Revolution – Will Artificial Intelligence Liberate or Infantilise Humanity? Buckingham: University of Buckingham Press World Economic Forum (2018) 5 Things to Know about the Future of Jobs, Accessed via www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/09/future-of-jobs-2018things-to-know/
Naaz Kirmani was IB Diploma Coordinator and Head of Senior School at Indus International School, Pune, India before becoming in 2018 a full-time PhD student at the University of Bath. Email: N.Kirmani@bath.ac.uk
in teaching and assessing methods. The time has come to make a shift to a more autonomous model of learning – and Artificial Intelligence promises the transformation. It is envisaged that the Fourth Education Revolution – driven by new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence – will create unique challenges and opportunities for educators and learners in the coming decade. The use of Artificial Intelligence is often misinterpreted as robots taking over classrooms and replacing teachers, but Artificial Intelligence actually involves many assistive tools and platforms to facilitate enhanced learning environments, quality and quick feedback, personalised learning, and support for administrative tasks. It creates and supports self-directed and autonomous learning opportunities for young learners who prefer to acquire knowledge in a more informal and unstructured manner. New and assistive technologies can be used effectively to reassess, redesign and remodel formal education, laying more emphasis on individual skills and dispositions. Some aspects which would require immediate focus include continuing professional development of teachers, and what professional skills or competencies are required to equip teachers to deal with the changing paradigm of teaching and learning in the 21st century. Our attention is also drawn towards some of the key issues related to access and accountability such as data access and protection, current assessment standards, and learning environments in different contexts. While we continue our attempts to envision the uncertain and ambiguous future, let’s look forward to all the positive changes the future holds for educators and young
Will my son be a global citizen? How early should I be thinking about this, wonders Hedley Willsea... ‘Ladies and gentlemen, parents and graduating students of the class of 2032, it strikes me that children are the most precious asset of any society. And looking back at my own childhood I see, in fact, that school and hospital visits are the only times in your life when every adult in the building is unconditionally committed to your wellbeing…’ In 2032 my son is due to graduate from high school, so I’ve started drafting my guest-of-honour speech fourteen years early. Well, there’s no time like the present and – as you can see – it still has a long way to go. As does my son, who began school this academic year. On his first day of term I was probably the most nervous adult in the school building, and as I spent the preceding evening frantically ironing name tags into his uniform, I realised that his first day would mark his first formal step into society. Even now, months after the hurdle of the first day, I brood over the prospect of him spending the next fourteen years being measured against a series of social and academic norms. I shouldn’t be losing any sleep over this – as a professional educator I am one of the people laying down the measuring sticks, and I’ve spent almost two decades doing this very same thing to other people’s children. So why does it trouble me now? Ridiculous as it may sound, it has taken my son’s first day of school to force home the realisation that schooling is citizenship; there are rules to follow, even at four years old. And while in a perfect world education is a right, the reality is that it remains a privilege. For example, after visiting my son’s classroom on his first day I searched online for ‘third world classroom’ and the stark visual contrast still resonates. To put it another way, my son is lucky to attend an international school – but he doesn’t know it yet. If all goes well he will eventually study the IB (International Baccalaureate) programme, the aim of which is to ‘develop internationally-minded people who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect’ (IB, 2019a). As a teacher who has spent eighteen years in international schools I have repeatedly questioned what it really means to be ‘internationally-minded’ and this has led me to peruse back issues of this (IS) magazine. In volume 15 issue 2 (2013), the main theme of which was international mindedness, Richard Harwood and Katharine Bailey offered the following definition of international mindedness, which they also called global consciousness: Winter
‘A person’s capacity to transcend the limits of a worldview informed by a single experience of nationality, creed, culture or philosophy and recognises in the richness of diversity a multiplicity of ways of engaging with the world’. In another article from the same issue, Ian Hill (previously IB deputy director general) defined education for international mindedness as: ‘the study of issues which have application beyond national borders and to which competencies such as critical thinking and collaboration are applied in order to shape attitudes leading to action which will be conducive to intercultural understanding, peaceful co-existence and global sustainable development for the future of the human race.’ According to the IB Learner Profile (IB, 2019b), internationally-minded students are, among another things, caring, principled and open-minded. But as I read all of the above, I cannot help but ask: is it all simply an ideal? What of the ‘real world’ back home in public sector schools? As David Wilkinson in IS magazine volume 19 issue 2 (2017) notes: ‘[T]he question of access to the IB programmes needs to be addressed and acted upon, particularly in the developing world where the cost of the programmes is prohibitively expensive for all except the international schools that serve the local elite and the transient expatriate communities.’ Admittedly the IB is viewed by some in the UK (Middleton, 2010) as for the more privileged independent sector but, according to www.ib-schools.eu, as of 2014 there were 155 schools in the UK offering the IB, only 83 of which were independent. The IB has also been criticised for its frontloading of the IB Learner Profile; non-IB adherents, for example those schools favouring A-levels, may ‘prefer character-building to
It has taken my son’s first day of school to force home the realisation that schooling is citizenship; there are rules to follow, even at four years old. 29
References IB (2019a) www.ibo.org/globalassets/digital-tookit/brochures/ corporate-brochure-en.pdf IB (2019b) www.ibo.org/benefits/learner-profile/ Middleton C (2010) IB or Not IB? That is the Question. Accessed via www.telegraph.co.uk/education/secondaryeducation/8125719/IB-ornot-IB-That-is-the-question.html Mitchell Institute (2017) www.mitchellinstitute.org.au/wp-content/ uploads/2017/03/Preparing-young-people-for-the-future-of-work.pdf PISA (2019) www.oecd.org/pisa/ Schleicher A (2017) http://oecdeducationtoday.blogspot.com/2017/12/ educating-our-youth-to-care-about-each.html UN (2019) www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainabledevelopment-goals/
Hedley Willsea is Head of English at the Anglo-American School of Moscow Email: email@example.com
be a by-product of education, rather than a target’ (Middleton, 2010). In fact, during a summer reunion at the British school I attended as a teenager, one of its current teachers responded to my advocacy of the IB with the comment that ‘We have our own school motto which has stood the test of time for over three hundred years; we’ve no need of a cookie-cutter approach here’. While I would hope that my personal perspective has broadened enough since working overseas to be not too concerned by such a remark, I can understand the sentiment. For example, as a British citizen born and educated in the UK I have a strong sense of national identity and a set of values rooted in history and tradition. However, as a parent I am acutely aware that my son does not and will not have this bedrock. He has two nationalities, and while we are currently living in Russia, my wife’s country of origin, he has only experienced my own country of origin during short visits. We will eventually leave Russia, we will not live in the UK but elsewhere, and as such he will eventually be classed as a Third Culture Kid – with apologies to IS editors Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson, and contributors such as Adam Poole and Melodye Rooney who, in IS volume 20 issue 1 (2017) and volume 20 issue 3 (2018) have argued the term is now outdated. In my opinion my son needs the IB or an equivalent, and he needs his teachers to relate it to his school’s mission statement. All in all, he needs his parents to work with his teachers to present these things to him as something realistically attainable in all areas of life, rather than simply as an ideal in the classroom. As John Wells states in IS volume 19 issue 2 (2017): ‘Whether a student now follows a national curriculum or an international programme, the chances are high that teachers and schools will be expected to complement academic knowledge and skills with a specific set of attributes, values or dispositions that are deemed to be an integral part of being a 21st century learner; someone who might be described as internationally minded, or a global citizen.’ Indeed, terms such as ‘international mindedness’ and ‘global citizenship’ are not the exclusive preserve of international schools. For example, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA, 2019) is a worldwide survey evaluating education systems by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-olds in science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem-solving and financial literacy. According to its coordinator Andreas Schleicher, 193 countries
in 2015 committed to achieving the goals of the United Nations, these being ‘the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice’ (UN, 2019) As Schleicher observes in his blog, ‘The extent to which that vision becomes a reality will in no small way depend on what is happening in today’s classrooms’ (Schleicher, 2017); presumably referring in so doing to a national as well as an international context. He also states that ‘this has inspired the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to include global competence in its metrics for quality, equity and effectiveness in education’ as of 2018. He also notes that ‘PISA conceives of global competence as a multidimensional, lifelong learning goal. Globally competent individuals can examine local, global and intercultural issues, understand and appreciate different perspectives and world views, interact successfully and respectfully with others, and take responsible action toward sustainability and collective well-being’. If this is global competence, then it is already a requirement for our IB graduates currently entering the job market. For example, a report published by the Mitchell Institute (2017), Preparing Young People for the Future of Work, states that ‘Young people without capabilities to work in teams, solve problems and collaborate do not fare well in the labour market’. Perhaps the IB has already taken steps to address this in a more practical context. For example, in the Diploma Programme as well as in the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP), cognitive, metacognitive and affective skills are grouped into the same five ATL (Approaches to Learning) categories: Thinking Skills, Communication skills, Social Skills, Self-Management Skills and Research Skills. Whatever the case, as a novice parent I look at my son, and above all else just want him to grow up to be a nice person and a good human being. However, as a teacher I also want him to develop a perspective and a skill set that will equip him for a future which even now, by virtue of technological development and sheer necessity, is ultimately global in both content and scope.
Are we able to slay the educational Leviathan? Andrew Watson looks at the barriers preventing change and progress The more I learn about education, the more I am forced to confront a difficult question: is education really the most conservative of bastions? Why does sea-change so often seem to be but a distant light on a dark horizon? Is it simply the size and scale of an apparent Leviathan, thrashing in troubled waters, that renders it so resistant to fundamental change? Or has education become a monster that has developed a pathological aversion to evolution? In its modern form, education was once a radical social force. Yet now, as humanity sleepwalks inexorably towards a climate catastrophe, propelled by economic irrationality and increasing inequality, and fuelled by a new wave of political populism, where is the radical voice of education, which can stem the tide, challenge orthodoxy and bring hope to young people betrayed by a system of self-perpetuating inadequacy? Education has become part of the problem. The sector has, to paraphrase Greta Thunberg – the popular if not stereotypical leader of a climate revolution – been ‘shitting on our futures’ (Guardian 01.09.18). Johnston (2017), quoting Schumacher (1997 p 208) writes: ‘The volume of education continues to increase, yet so do pollution, exhaustion of resources, and the dangers of ecological catastrophe. If still more education is to save us, it would have to be education of a different kind: an education that takes us into the depth of things ...’. Education needs to be part of the solution. Want the good news? There are activists at work. In addition to Thunberg, others have also been working, steadily and painstakingly over recent years, to imagine and create an experience of education fit for purpose, from which might emerge a better, more peaceful, more sustainable world. Take for example the Inaugural European Education & Sustainability Leadership Summit (ESLS), which is taking place at Berlin Brandenburg International School (BBIS) from 30 May to 1 June 2019, and is an aspirational and ambitious programme that brings together national and international education leaders, student and teacher ‘champions’ of sustainability in its broadest sense, with policy makers, so that one can inform the other – and in order to chart a very different future path for global education that will enable it to align with the most urgent challenges facing humanity. It invites educational leaders, with a facilitated parallel dialogue that includes learners, to reflect critically on what we teach (the curriculum), how we teach (pedagogy) and where Winter
we teach (school infrastructure). The Berlin programme is the inaugural European iteration of a programme that was successfully piloted in Singapore in 2015 and then delivered in Cape Town in 2017 for a South African independent schools sector. The programme began as a partnership between the Universities of Cape Town and Cambridge and the United World College movement. Whilst the latter still plays an active role, the programme model has evolved to develop partnerships with ‘host’ schools such as ‘Bishops’ (Bishops Diocesan College) in Cape Town and now BBIS in Berlin. The outgoing Principal of BBIS, Peter Kotrc, sustains an entrepreneurial zeal towards education that is both refreshing and reassuring, especially when schools have a choice between being the mirrors of society or the change agents of it – as Professor Stewart Sutherland observed sagely in the mid-1990s. Schools, as the education and sustainability leadership programme recognises, cannot afford to stand still; they have to develop a prophetic vision of the future, which necessarily involves challenging process as much as re-engaging with their moral purpose and re-thinking how their core business of teaching and learning can best be sustained by connected organisational systems. However, moving beyond what might be referred to as a ‘first phase’ of sustainability systems-thinking (which might for very good reasons, for example, focus on environmental issues within and beyond a school community) requires vision, leadership and teamwork. It also requires radical thinking, courage and risk-taking, and the annals of international education are filled with stories of leaders who ‘risked’ some and consequently lost all. Little wonder, then, that there is an apparent sense of self-preservation and risk-aversion among what mostly remains a tight-knit fraternity. It could be argued that the system itself promotes and rewards conservatism. However, one need only look at the transformational work of the ESLS partner the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership (CISL), which does most of its work in the Business Sector, to understand how sustainability thinking is not just ethical, but also good for business. The andragogy of ESLS, which draws heavily on Otto Scharmer’s ‘U Theory’, breaks down the walls of preconception to create a tabula rasa where connected, collaborative learning and coherent, contextualised solutions can be evinced. Senge (2014) in Johnston (2017) believes,
the stirring of tectonic plates after all? However, as the urgency increases, surely the imperative for a seismic revolution increases, which might very well swallow the Leviathan once and for all? Perhaps only then will a new kind of social contract emerge – one in which an experience of education is, as Orr (in Stone, 2016) suggests, organised to better reflect the way we sense and interact with the world. References Crouch D (2018) The Swedish 15-year-old who’s cutting class to fight the climate crisis, The Guardian [online] 1 September Available from: www. theguardian.com/science/2018/sep/01/swedish-15-year-old-cuttingclass-to-fight-the-climate-crisis Johnston M (2017) Education for a sustainable future: A multi-stakeholder action research study for one international school to contribute to global sustainable education. PhD thesis, Saybrook University. Orr D in Stone M K (2017) Ecoliteracy and schooling for sustainability. In: EarthED. Rethinking Education on a Changing Planet. Washington DC: Island Press pp 35 – 47.
Andrew Watson’s experience of developing international education initiatives includes The Education & Sustainability Leadership Programme (ESLP) in partnership with Cambridge and Cape Town Universities, and the Education in Conflict & Post-Conflict Contexts (ECPCC) in partnership with UWC Mostar, where he served on the Governing Board between 2010 and 2016. [www.SusEd.org] Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
perhaps contentiously, that ‘no-one wakes up in the morning and wants to affect climate change in a negative way’ (although at least one world leader comes to mind). More pertinently, he goes on to suggest that ‘we simply lack the connected thinking and tools to understand and take meaningful action on a micro and macro level’. That is where the ESLS comes in. The simple value proposition is that sustainability thinking can inform the setup of the formal education system and improve the learning that takes place within that system. Motivation drives inquiry and becomes intrinsic rather than extrinsic. Teaching and learning becomes truly student-centred rather than teacherfocused. Connections are made between different sections of the school and between different schools and external partners. There is synergy between why we have a school and how, when and where teaching and learning happens. Sounds simple – and it can be. But not without great leadership – which must come from each of us, at all levels of society and all parts of the education eco-system. Young people must be encouraged to realise the leader within and embrace what it means to be a global citizen – not an easy challenge in an age where ideological lines of nationalism and isolationism are being re-drawn – one who is fully apprised of the nature and depth of the problem or education, unencumbered by out-dated thinking and vested interests; inter-disciplinary in their approach; and with the intellectual capacity to understand the systems’ pressures and the inter-connectedness of the relationships between food and water, climate and energy, security and poverty and social capital. There are undoubtedly pockets of great sustainability practice in the world of education. Perhaps we are witnessing
Pressure cooker education in Silicon Valley Sally Thorogood examines the impact on learning in a unique environment ‘What is it like living in Silicon Valley?’ is a question I have grown accustomed to answering since I took up a leadership position in 2012 at an international school in Menlo Park, California. The question is not just a factual one but often comes with a note of anticipation, based on Silicon Valley’s reputation for being a centre of innovation and awash with high-tech companies from San Francisco to San Jose. Describing the environment is fairly straightforward, but the subsequent question: ‘Do you like it?’ is the more difficult to answer. Silicon Valley is a fascinating but also challenging place to live, especially for an international educator and strong proponent of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. It would be easy on the personal side to highlight such obvious benefits as the outdoor lifestyle or such challenges as the exceptionally high cost of living, but the following are my IB-style reflections from a professional perspective on three particular aspects, having previously worked at an IB school in Europe for 15 years. International Community Over a third of the Silicon Valley population was born outside the United States (Stangel, 2017). The rich diversity of cultures, languages and practices certainly enhances the everyday experience and plays an integral part in the dynamic nature of this area. Given the cosmopolitan population and the emphasis on innovation and creativity, I anticipated finding a
Percentage of the Total Population Who Are Foreign Born Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties, San Francisco, California, and the United States | 2017 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Winter
potential hub of IB schools. In fact, the number proved more limited than expected, with only one or a maximum of two of the four IB programmes being offered by each school. Part of the reason for my relocation to Alto International School (formerly the German American International School) was the opportunity to support the strategic goal of developing a three IB programme school – and I am glad to say that this was achieved just a few months ago. Alto is now the only school in the Bay Area to be authorised to offer the IB’s Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes. Despite the lack of IB continuum schools, there are a significant number of schools offering a bilingual education in a wide range of languages – and the number continues to grow. Most offer the relevant national curriculum or the American curriculum. Only a few offer a multilingual education and/or an internationally-focused curriculum. The Bay Area as a whole (spanning the city of San Francisco and surrounding counties) has a very wide range of new and established schools promoting education in all shapes and sizes. It has been encouraging to witness many following the lead of the IB in placing more emphasis on inquiry-based teaching, higher order thinking skills, and the development of character and personal qualities, but there is still an opportunity for a greater focus on students expanding their intercultural awareness and global perspectives. Balance and Well-being The second aspect that perhaps shouldn’t have surprised me as much was the ‘intensity’ of Silicon Valley; the emphasis on success, achievement and performing at a consistently high level. This is a necessary driver of innovation, but the culture can have a negative influence on the broader community, as witnessed by the significant number of student suicides in the past 10 years. The most recent cluster of suicides, in 2015, resulted in much soul-searching as reported in a New York Times article by Matt Richtel (2015): ‘Push, don’t crush, the students’. Many schools in the area took a fresh look at their curricular focus and their messaging, and a greater emphasis has since been placed on student well-being and developing qualities such as resilience. This has been mirrored in many other parts of the world, but long after it became an integral part of the IB, as Anthony Seldon points out in his recent article (2018) about the benefits of an IB education. A programme developed at Stanford University Graduate School of Education has also gained widespread prominence
Languages Other Than English Spoken at Home for the Population 5-Years and Over Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties, San Francisco, California and the United States | 2017 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey
Entrepreneurial Spirit There is no doubt that Silicon Valley is an exciting place to live, and it is all too easy to find yourself caught up in the high energy and fast pace of life. In the space of one year at Alto, we launched the High School, rebranded, completed the IB Diploma Programme authorisation application and successfully completed a re-accreditation process. Crazy – but somehow indicative of the culture. The following year we (wisely) focused on consolidation! It is also easy to become blasé about witnessing the unusual and innovative on an everyday basis, whether sharing the road with prototype autonomous vehicles, passing a robotic security guard patrolling the local mall, or driving past multiple state-of-the-art buildings belonging to world-renowned companies. Students are afforded access to amazing resources and authentic learning experiences courtesy of many of these companies, and through Stanford University. The entrepreneurial spirit supports many aspects of an IB philosophy as they witness inquiry, creativity, risk taking and reflective practices at a new level. The entrepreneurial approach also reflects the ever-popular subject of a growth mindset; in the land of the start-up company the pervading view is that failure teaches a person more than success, and recruiting is influenced by this fact.
However, this culture also fosters high turnover; companies are quick to let people go and employees are equally quick to move on when a better offer emerges. In practical terms, this is facilitated by California’s at-will contracts where little notice is required. Having been immersed in the field of education where a strong sense of vocation is common, and commitment and professionalism are highly valued, it was disturbing to find that this lack of loyalty could extend to teachers handing in their notice just a few weeks before the beginning of the school year! Conclusion There are certainly many aspects of life in Silicon Valley that make it an attractive place to live. As an educator, however, I have found myself particularly concerned for the young people growing up in this ‘pressure cooker’. I hope the fact that more schools in the area are following the IB’s lead, in recognising that it is possible to offer a rigorous curriculum without compromising the necessary focus on social-emotional competency and well-being, is a cause for optimism. If the students attending these schools can be supported both by educators and by their families in harnessing Silicon Valley’s spirit of innovation and diversity of opportunities, while maintaining a balanced perspective on the true meaning of success and the importance of personal well-being, they have the potential to make an incredibly positive impact on our world. References Richtel M (2015) Push, don’t crush, the students, New York Times, 25 April Seldon A (2018) The World needs the International Baccalaureate, TES News, 19 September Stangel L (2017) More than a third of Silicon Valley’s population is foreignborn, Accessed via www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2017/02/28/ immigration-silicon-valley-impact.html
Sally Thorogood was Elementary Principal from 2012-18 and Head of School from 2016-18 at Alto International School, California, following 15 years as a teacher and Assistant Principal at Munich International School, Germany. Email: email@example.com Summer |
in recent years. Challenge Success was established by experts in child and adolescent well-being to support families and schools in developing ‘alternative success models’ and avoid an overemphasis on grades. They have identified a common issue, also described by Matt Richtel, in that many parents and even school administrators state their desire for the students to be happy and healthy, but continue to focus their attention on grades and achievements. I experienced this for myself at an Open House when a prospective parent approached me after the presentation to say that he truly valued the IB’s philosophy and the more holistic, balanced approach, but ‘can you still guarantee that my child will get into Stanford?’! A prominent quote on the Challenge Success website (www. challengesuccess.org) is ‘success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of a semester’. The need to promote this sort of messaging is familiar to educators the world over, but seems particularly pertinent in the Bay Area.
Curriculum, learning and teaching
The first project was launched in Ghana with the intention to provide equal opportunities for women to flourish in an everchanging market.
Is education the answer to the biggest challenges facing the planet? Ivan Vassiliev on the struggle of providing a basic education for all Imagine a world where geniuses from not just a handful of rich countries shape the destiny of the planet, but where great minds from every corner are able to contribute to the biggest challenges facing us today; from the environment to fresh water access, and agriculture. A world like that is possible, and it starts by providing access to basic education that allows individuals from demographics that may not previously have had the opportunity, to develop themselves quickly and with a specific focus on enabling them to join the global conversation. This doesnâ€™t mean that everyone has to pursue advanced academic endeavours. With all the technological advances Winter
on the horizon and the automation of many jobs, the defining skills will be those that cater to and support the human experience. The most quintessentially human of qualities will be those that stand out. The skills required are the kind that are often taken for granted in the developed world; English, communication, basics of customer service and interaction in a system that is so ingrained, familiar, and natural to many of us, itâ€™s hard to imagine it not being so for most of us. Imagine a woman from Ghana, a country where over half the women are still illiterate having had access to only preschool, if any, education. What would it mean to this woman
Curriculum, learning and teaching
The programme is already helping over 20 women from Ghana and Armenia break into the hospitality industry.
catalyst for an international movement to a nation, and when done correctly – considerate of the guests and in line with the nation’s rich history – then many other opportunities can grow. The important thing is that they are prepared when opportunity knocks. Hospitality may seem a million miles from real development that a country needs to make the changes required, but consider that Dubai started with only this, and a few decades later it has launched a space programme. What we see is not a silver bullet but faith in the seeds of potential that, when sown in people, we know will lead to them accomplishing great things for themselves first, and their countries after. Nothing happens in isolation, and the next big challenges that face us could have their solution locked away in the mind of someone who just needs the chance to have their voice heard. Albert Einstein worked in a patent office, and his greatest ideas could have stayed there in obscurity if he had not had the opportunity to share his ideas with great institutions of learning so that the world eventually listened. Imagine how many ‘Einsteins’ are out there in the world, unable to share their voice due to lack of opportunity and a platform. Ivan Vassiliev is CEO and Co-Founder of learningonline.xyz Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
if she had the opportunity to learn practical, transferable skills in an international setting? What could she do with this? How could she change her life? How could she develop her country? Our organisation has been fortunate enough to witness first-hand the answer to some of these questions. We’ve worked with women from Ghana to develop their skills through an online platform that gives access to language and work-based skills such as conflict resolution and customer service. These candidates have then been placed in 5-star hotels in an international tourism hub, Dubai, for ‘on the job’ training in various departments. During their placement the candidates have been able to learn and apply their skills, earning their opportunity and having the chance to prove their capability. From working in housekeeping to a busy kitchen, interacting with colleagues and guests from all over the world, the skills they learned have helped them envision a new future. We’ve heard first-hand how the candidates feel empowered by their learning, how this has helped them feel more confident in taking on new responsibilities. We’ve seen enthusiasm blossom as they understand that they now have opportunities that they can take back to Ghana to meaningfully contribute to the country’s burgeoning hospitality sector. The skills that they’ve learned have set the foundation for them to be able to lead the hospitality sector back home, and colour it with their experience not just as women of the country, but also as internationally experienced hosts. And we understand the benefit that this can have for their children and the next generation. Hospitality is often the
Curriculum, learning and teaching
The thesis sits smugly on the shelf International teacher Adam Poole’s reflection on a doctoral journey Research is typically judged on how it appears in the form of a product, such as an article, book or in my case, a doctoral thesis. However, what is not often written about is the process, the journey. The freshly bound thesis sitting smugly on the shelf belies the struggles that led to its creation and eventual completion. My own doctoral research focused on the experiences of a group of international school teachers and how they constructed their identities in terms of the accumulation of what I labelled ‘cross-cultural capital.’ However, rather than focusing on this somewhat esoteric (though very interesting) topic, I want to offer a reflection on my doctoral journey as an international educator. I undertook a doctorate in education for a number of reasons: interest, career development, the challenge. Perhaps most of all I undertook the doctorate because of my experiences as an international teacher. Before undertaking the doctorate, I had a clear, though perhaps slightly naïve, sense of who I was as an international educator. I’d been teaching International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme English and IGCSE literature in various international schools in Winter
Shanghai for almost ten years. To put it more precisely, I taught international curricula in an international school; therefore, I was an international teacher. This syllogistic logic became axiomatic. However, as I progressed with the doctorate and read more widely around the field of international education, I began to interrogate my assumptions about what it meant to be an educator as well as an international teacher. I found myself constantly sliding between identities: on the week days, I was a teacher; in the evenings and at weekends when writing up the thesis I was a researcher. The more I progressed with the doctorate, the more I struggled with the issue of whether I was a practitioner-researcher or a researcher-practitioner. I also found myself wondering (and wandering) about the nature of international education. Just what was the defining feature of international education? What made teachers ‘international’? I was reading that it was the curriculum or the school, or certain dispositions, such as international-mindedness or a global perspective that truly defined international education. The more I read, the more frustrated I became at the paucity of research on the international teacher experience.
Curriculum, learning and teaching
Surely, along with the curriculum, school and the students, the teachers were also a significant factor in international education? Yet the voices of international teachers could not be heard in the literature, and the literature that did explore the lives and experiences of international educators did not resonate with my own lived experiences. For example, I began teaching more as a means to an end rather than as a professional calling, planning to use two years teaching English in a university in Nanchang in 2008 as a way to see China and experience a new culture. Prior to this, I had been working in an administrative position with the Royal Mail in Plymouth, England, completing a Master’s degree on the eighteenth century English novel, and vaguely contemplating ‘seeing the world’. My experiences of teaching conversational English in China opened my eyes to teaching as a career. I was reading that international teachers were qualified teachers who chose to relocate from their home countries and teach internationally in order to see the world or to improve their financial circumstances. However, my own experiences, as well as those of my colleagues in the school in which I undertook research, painted a far less idealistic picture: we were international teachers not because we chose to be, but because we had to be. Our experiences and skill set made us highly employable in China, but not necessarily in our home countries. How did our formative experiences lead us to teaching in China? I looked for the answers, but could not find them because our voices were missing from the literature. We were not international teachers, but internationalised school teachers. Reflecting on my doctoral journey now, the process involved the construction of my own identity as a practitioner-researcher just as much as it did the participants’ construction of their identities as international teachers. At times, this hybrid identity was contradictory and confusing – sitting in Friday afternoon meetings about standardisation and wondering what they had to do with the construction of identity, and then sitting in doctoral workshops on the weekend after five days of teaching wondering what the construction of identity had to do with teaching! At times I felt conflicted, unsure which identity to embody. I recall talking to a colleague who asked me what my thesis was
Suggested reading Bunnell T (2016) Teachers in international schools: a global educational ‘precariat’? Globalisation, Societies and Education, 14(4), 543-559 Poole A (2017) Interpreting and implementing the IB Learner Profile in an internationalised school in China: a shift of focus from the ‘Profile as text’ to the ‘lived Profile.’ Journal of Research in International Education, 16(3), 248–264. Poole A (2019) I am an internationalising teacher: A Chinese English teacher’s experiences of becoming an international teacher. International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, 21(1), 31-45. Poole A (2019) How internationalised school teachers construct crosscultural identities in an internationalised school in Shanghai, China. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Nottingham. Savva M (2017) The personal struggles of ‘national’ educators working in ‘international’ schools: an intercultural perspective. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 15(5), 576-589 Tarc P, Mishra Tarc A, & Wu X (2019) Anglo-Western international school teachers as global middle class: portraits of three families. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 1-16
Adam Poole teaches IB Diploma Programme English A and B at an international school in Shanghai, and has recently successfully defended his doctoral thesis with the University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China. Email: email@example.com
Perhaps the most important thing I have learnt from my doctoral studies is that research needs to be authentic and honest in nature.
about. I immediately launched into a monologue about the construction of identity, intercultural awareness and constructivism, and realised that I had lost him after about a minute. I changed the topic to music, and the conversation progressed quite nicely. I now realise that my endeavour to theorise international teachers’ identities was perhaps too conceptual in nature, reflecting the researcher aspect of my identity. Whilst this was arguably both timely and worthwhile, many international teachers’ immediate concerns are not with conceptual frameworks or theories, but with more practical matters such as finances, contracts and the day-to-day ‘nitty-gritty’ of teaching. This is compounded in international school contexts where teachers have to get to grips not only with a new local culture, but also with the cultures and languages of their students. Perhaps the most important thing I have learnt from my doctoral studies is that research needs to be authentic and honest in nature. It needs to start with the lived realities of international teachers’ experiences. Type the phrase ‘international teacher’ into Google images and you will be met with image after image of happy, smiling teachers. Whilst international teaching does have its many positives, my findings, as well as those of others (see the suggested reading) reveal a far more complex and ambivalent reality, such as a sense of rootlessness or, as I have called it, ‘advantageous exile.’ Those smiling faces belie the time and the steep climb that it took for us to become, and remain, international teachers. Perhaps now that the thesis has started to gather a bit of dust it can sit a bit less smugly, and a bit more snuggly, on the shelf.
Curriculum, learning and teaching
How do studentathletes balance sport and education? Anne Louise Williams reports... Louis Tee Jun Jie (above) is a talented golfer residing in Singapore who faced the dilemma many young talented athletes face: sacrifice sport or academic studies when completing the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP). Louis was fortunate to be offered support by Singapore Sports School, the IB and World Academy of Sport (WAoS) which enabled him to undertake the DP over 3 years instead of the usual 2 years. He graduated with the DP in January 2019 and commented: ‘The extended DP offered me the time during the day to both catch up on my studies and go for golf training. Had I taken the standard two-year course, I would have had to give up on my sport in order to do well academically due to the rigorous nature of the DP’. Singapore Sports School celebrated its first group of extended study (3 year) graduates in January 2019, with Louis scoring 43 out of a possible 45 points in the DP. He is one of many student-athletes across IB World Schools who now benefit from the project established by the IB and WAoS to address this question of how high performing student-athletes can better balance their commitments to both sport and education. The pilot project commenced in 2015, with interested schools being assessed by WAoS as to their ability to service the needs of high-performing studentathletes. Successful schools were provided with accreditation as a WAoS ‘Athlete Friendly Education Centre’ (AFEC) and subsequently allowed to offer student-athletes the possibility Winter
of undertaking an extended period of study and accessing flexible approaches to study. This initiative has allowed schools to maintain an individualised learning approach based on student need at the school level for those students who meet the criteria of a high-performing student-athlete, rather than a centrally prescribed delivery structure. In 2018, research was conducted which involved three complementary surveys being developed for DP Coordinators, Heads of Sport and student-athletes attending schools that were participating in the pilot. The results of this research provided vital evidence for the WAoS International Advisory Board and the IB leadership team to inform the approval process of the project which was announced in October 2018. IB World Schools can now continue to assist student-athletes through providing flexible delivery of the DP by gaining AFEC accreditation for those schools and student-athletes who fulfil the respective criteria. Key findings from the research have now been compiled into a research report distributed to AFEC-accredited schools which can provide greater insight to further assist schools in the delivery of flexible options for student-athletes. Some findings from the report are outlined here. Student-athletes The pilot project increased access to the DP for studentathletes such as Louis who would otherwise have chosen a
Curriculum, learning and teaching
HOW DO STUDENT-ATHLETES BALANCE SPORT & EDUCATION Student-athletes have to make difficult choices in balancing sport and education. It is well-known that many students forgo education for sporting aspirations. So at the end of their sporting career...what next? An education is vital for student-athletes to prepare for a dual career approach. Where International Baccalaureate World Schools have prioritised supporting student-athletes through WAoS Athlete friendly Education Centres (AFEC), research has identified:
What schools do? Services provided by schools to support student-athletes Adjusted roles of existing staff Adjust fee structures for student-athletes
Is it helpful for the school to offer student-athletes the option to undertake an extended period of study of the IB Diploma Programme through an AFEC accredited school?
Adjusted timetables Employed additional staff Adjusted role definitions of teaching staff Begun to offer online courses such as Pamoja Created relaxation/quiet spaces
73% 22% Agree
Why student-athletes choose the length of time to complete their high school? Why do student-athletes choose to extend their period of study?
Why do student-athletes choose the standard period of study?
So I could continue competing in my sport
I felt that I could maintain the Diploma Programme and my sport commitments I wanted to complete the Diploma Programme with my friends and classmates
To have the best opportunity that I could to successfully complete the DP
I followed advice from my parents
The teachers and/or school staff advised that it would be the best option for me
I was not aware it was an option My parents thought it would be the best option for me
I followed advice from my Diploma Programme coordinator
My friends thought it would be the best option for me
I followed advice from my coach
What do we observe when student-athletes chose to extend their period of study? Impact that completing an extended period of study has on student-athletes lives?
Average hours of sleep student-athletes get per week night 2 Year DP
Suggested average sleep for a 16 year old*
3-4 hrs 4-5 hrs
5-6 hrs 6-7 hrs
7-8 hrs 8-9 hrs
As part of the Athlete Friendly Education Centres project through the World Academy of Sport and International Baccalaureate Sport Pilot research project, three complimentary surveys were developed for IB Coordinators, Head of Sport and Student-athletes respectively. Distribution of surveys to Pilot schools was completed in March 2018 undertaken by WAoS and follow up supported by the IB World Schools Services Team. The data presented in this infographic represent responses from 12 schools from Singapore, USA, UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Denmark, The Netherlands, Lebanon and Jordan. IB Coordinators: 12 Head of Sport: 10 Student-athletes: 109 - Extended IB Diploma Programme: 23, 2 year IB Diploma Programme: 54, Other programme than the IB Diploma Programme: 32
ÂŠ World Academy of Sport 2018
*Suggested average sleep - https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep
Curriculum, learning and teaching different programme of study. 40% of student-athletes who are completing an extended DP reported that they would have chosen a different programme had the extended option not been made available to them. Comparisons undertaken between responses of student-athletes undertaking an extended DP and those completing a standard 2-year DP provided great insights as to the efficacy of the project and its impact throughout the pilot phase. Those completing an extended DP indicated that their academic workload was more manageable when compared with that of those completing a 2-year DP. In addition, the perceived academic capacity of student-athletes undertaking the DP was explored, with more positive responses to this question being recorded by those undertaking an extended DP. Furthermore, for those completing an extended DP this option had a perceived positive impact on academic studies, sport and social life when compared to student-athletes completing a 2-year DP. However, statistical significance was only evident across these three aspects of their life when comparing how often student-athletes neglected their sport commitments: findings showed that student-athletes who chose an extended DP would sacrifice their sport commitments less often than would those doing a 2-year DP. Sleep and rest is a fundamental developmental pillar for adolescence. Student-athletes have an additional physical load over and above that of the broader population, as well as needing to ensure that they are properly rested in order to manage their risk of injury effectively. The study demonstrated that student-athletes undertaking an extended DP were getting longer sleep on average when compared with student-athletes undertaking a 2-year DP. This significant finding of the current study has set a precedent for further specific investigation into the area of rest and sleep. Schools The most common approach taken by schools to support student-athletes is through adapting existing roles of school staff rather than through taking on additional resources. Practical support for student-athletes was mainly achieved through extension of deadlines, providing a flexible timetable and – to a lesser extent, where it can be facilitated by the school – developing a personalised timetable and selfdirected learning. At the practical level, schools are faced with an impact on their resources and infrastructure when providing flexibility for student-athletes. To offset this, schools have generally charged an additional year’s tuition fee for those who have extended their period of study. There is no impact for the families of those students who are on full scholarships, but for other students some schools implement a pragmatic approach to this issue by amortising school fees across the time of the student-athlete being enrolled at the school. The data also suggested some negative impact on studentathletes undertaking an extended DP. These were around negative comments, bullying or peer pressure directed towards student-athletes, which had not been reported or foreseen prior to this research. These findings should be strongly noted by schools as an important outcome of the current research. Strategies to directly address and monitor such issues will be incorporated into the AFEC Professional Development workshops to assist schools in managing such behaviour. Winter
Through the research responses it was observed that there was a strong societal pressure in many countries for students to complete high school with their peer group and classmates, a factor explaining why some studentathletes choose not to extend their study of the DP. Those completing a 2-year DP reported a stronger influence of parents and peers in deciding not to undertake an extended DP, whereas those who did extend their study reported more internalised reasons such as ‘so I could continue competing in my sport’, or ‘to have the best opportunity to successfully complete the DP’. Schools will be able to develop these findings in order to support student-athletes, parents and coaches in making more informed decisions based on their individual goals in the future. One innovative approach has seen Amman Baccalaureate School, Jordan (a participant pilot phase school) allowing a student-athlete who was undertaking the extended DP to be awarded the school certificate with their classmates – even though they still had an additional year of study to complete before they would complete the DP. With these findings and many others arising from the research, AFEC schools can now begin to make betterinformed decisions on how best to progress their work in providing flexible approaches to balancing sport and academic commitments for student-athletes. The project has now progressed from its pilot phase to allow all those who meet the respective criteria for AFEC schools and for studentathletes such as Louis Tee Jun Jie and aspiring studentathletes at Singapore Sports School to access flexibility in the IB Diploma Programme. Anne Louise Williams is Marketing and Licensing Manager for the World Academy of Sport. www.worldacademysport.com/afec Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Curriculum, learning and teaching
Inquiring together: student and teacher collaboration Victoria Wasner talks us through an innovative ‘Change-Makers’ CAS project
• How does meaningful teacher and student involvement as collaborative inquirers into service learning model a pedagogy for service learning?
In the spirit of IB CAS, service learning (Berger Kaye, 2010) and the mission and values of the IB, our project was planned to be collaborative (IB, 2015), democratic (IB, 2017) and to involve different inquiry cycles of action and reflection (IB, 2013). It was an attempt to model an educational practice that reflected my beliefs that pedagogy should be critical, responsible, risky, democratic and, ultimately, ethical. Researching as a teacher in practice, I also knew that I would need to respond to the context and practicalities of school life, adapting my methods as the project progressed and being flexible about where the project led. Team Change Makers After an open call to the whole cohort, 7 grade 11 girls came forward to participate in the project (see photo). It would have been easier in practical terms if I had simply worked together with my CAS group as timetable would have dictated; however, it was an important part of the inquiry that students had the option to take part, and in the name of choice and voice, we lived with the consequences of that decision. We named ourselves ‘Team Change Makers’, as the aim was to consider how we could work together to bring about change within our school. The year-long inquiry involved a process of eight different research cycles that were driven by my own practitioner questions and by questions that we developed together as the year progressed. As a group we met several times across the year, sometimes having in-depth discussions about the topic of service learning (cycle 2), learning about what it meant to carry out ethical research (cycle 4), how to collaborate with other teachers and get our voices heard (cycle 5) and how to share our knowledge and understanding with others in our school community (cycle 7). Individual interviews also captured student thoughts, and we used a virtual learning environment to reflect, make suggestions, give feedback and construct research questions. The girls also divided into two groups to conduct their own research with peers in other grades, after having designed their own research questions using an ‘ice-cream model’ technique (Brownhill et al, 2017). Figure 1 shows the girls using this model to define their questions. Throughout the year, the students found themselves involved in different collaborative spaces beyond our Team Change Makers (TCM) group; they worked with teachers in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) entitled ‘Beyond Summer |
What makes a good International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Creativity Activity Service (CAS) project? How can we learn to understand what ethical practice looks like, and how to carry out research in a more ethical way? How can we teachers act as role models in our embodiment of the attributes of learner dispositions and behaviours? How can we bring about change in our school environments? How can we facilitate student voice? What does ethical service learning look like and how are we going about it in practice? These were some of the questions that drove me to undertake a year-long collaborative inquiry project with a group of students at the high school where I teach, and where I have been IB CAS and Middle Years Programme (MYP) service learning coordinator for the past few years. The initial research question was:
Curriculum, learning and teaching
The year-long inquiry involved a process of eight different research cycles that were driven by my own practitioner questions and by questions that we developed together as the year progressed.
The Bake Sale’, they conducted interviews and focus groups with students in grades 9–12, and they prepared and led a student-teacher debate on the ethical nature of our school’s international service learning practice. Authentic voice and meaningful collaboration Whilst having learned research skills and how to act in a more ethical way as researchers, what the students really took away from the project was a sense that they were being listened to, that their voices were being heard, and that they had been able to contribute to a slow but gradual process of change in school practice. Reflecting back on the project at the end of their grade 12, what made the project meaningful was that they felt that they had contributed to some kind of change within our school. For the TCM girls, it was the feeling that they had somehow ‘made a difference’ that counted. They had felt empowered through having been listened to, and what mattered to them in the end was that they felt as though they may have left some kind of a legacy. As teachers, as human beings, we can all have principles, but they are not enough; we need to do something with them, embody them and bring them alive through our collaboration with others. Student voice is ‘not something you switch on and off’ (Wall, 2018); rather it is a commitment to democratic principles of participation and the idea of pedagogical relationships within a personalist rather than functionalist approach to education (Fielding & Moss, 2011).
In terms of the IB Diploma Programme, I suggest that a CAS project is an authentic opportunity for students and teachers to work together as collaborative partners, and that an identified, context-bound need can be addressed if we consider our own school environments rather than being tempted to solve the world’s problems by looking much further afield. Outside of the IB Diploma, any such collaborative project could also be conceived if a school were to be interested in modelling principles of democratic participation and facilitating authentic student voice. If students learn to value the efforts, the hopes and the ethical actions, underpinned by values, within their own learning communities, the more they will learn that a small act within a small community can be much more meaningful than an empty, detached act aimed at saving the world. Change is slow, but when we feel a sense of momentum and that we are being listened to, that is what gives us power to continue to hope and dream and allows our voices to emerge. References Berger Kaye C (2010) The Complete Guide to Service Learning: Proven, Practical Ways to Engage Students in Civic Responsibility, Academic Curriculum, & Social Action. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing Brownhill S, Ungarov T & Bipazhanova A (2017) Jumping the first hurdle: Framing action research questions using the Ice Cream Cone Model. Methodological Innovations, 10(3), 1-11 Fielding M & Moss P (2011) Radical education and the common school: a democratic alternative. Abingdon: Routledge IB (2013) What is an IB Education? Cardiff: International Baccalaureate IB (2015) Creativity, Activity, Service guide. Cardiff: International Baccalauerate IB (2017) What is an IB Education? Cardiff: International Baccalauerate Wall K (2018) Voice as a Catalyst for Effective Learning. Paper presented at the Fife Headteachers Conference.
Victoria Wasner coordinates CAS and service learning at the high school of The International School of Zug and Luzern, Switzerland. She is also an experienced teacher of IB MYP and DP German. Twitter: @wasnervic Email: email@example.com Figure 1 Winter
Curriculum, learning and teaching
Lost in education Doruk Gurkan wants to make sure we don’t lose sight of what really matters
• Food Security: Drinking water • Unemployment rate • Lack of Education • Climate Change: Destruction of Nature • Poverty: Income Inequality
The solution to these problems is always said to be EDUCATION. In the long run education will solve all of our problems. For example: people will not litter, make wrong decisions during elections or waste natural resources. According to the United Nations, sustainable education implies covering issues including ‘Human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development’ (UN, 2019). Certainly, having this approach in schools worldwide would help young people to see the world through other perspectives. If we teach students around the globe that girls and boys are equal, that race or religion should not separate us, that young people are change agents for sustainable development and that we all have the same rights, many of the struggles we face today might not exist. Therefore, we need to get back to education and really teach our students what is best for this world and not only for their country or themselves. That is how we can create real international mindedness in our classes. But how do we teach this? It is important to recognise educational trends, pedagogical/andragogical approaches and scientific researches in teaching. However, we should not
Nowadays everywhere I go, every teacher and student I listen to, every article I read, every educational website I visit talk about the same things; learner-centered teaching, Bloom’s taxonomy, STEAM-related projects, inquiry-based learning, gamification, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), growth mindset, peer coaching, virtual reality, visible learning, blended learning, digital citizenship, robotics coding, genius hour, adaptive learning algorithms, and so on. Are these all educational terms or trends that will pass over time? Are they just fancy analogies to hide the real problems of education in the world? Or are they the makeovers of the educational philosophies that existed thousands of years ago such as Plato’s doctrines in BC 420? As Mankind has evolved, so has its problems. Right now there is wide agreement across millennials and scientists on the top five problems of the world:
Curriculum, learning and teaching forget the core purposes of education. Julius Caesar, Martin Luther, Confucius, James Cook and others who influenced the history of the world may not have heard about inquirybased learning or STEAM Projects from their teachers. As a teacher our role is crucial – but educators should not feel lost in their practice while trying to implement all of the newest buzzwords and techniques. Teaching requires a great deal of time and consideration to ensure that it’s effective for students. Presenting content to students so that it infuses them with a passion for learning, instead of just focusing on transcripts or grades, must be a teaching goal. The learning process not only takes time, but also is most effective when students are able to learn through developing relationships with one another while performing a task that they can reflect upon later. Teachers should be willing to engage in thought-provoking conversation outside of classroom time. The ideas that students are exposed to now will shape their lives, careers, and the way they think about the world. And doing this is not easy! World education is suffering from limitations imposed on our schools as society is not scholarly, communities do not see education as a solution to eradicate poverty, the media devalues hard work and belittles the pleasure of learning, and technology reformats the structure of students’ brains. As argued by Johnson (2014): ‘Grand Theft Auto Five [released on September 17, 2013] earned $800 million dollars the first day it was sold and achieved worldwide sales of more than $1 billion in its first three days. Students’ writing and math skills are very weak as they are moving away from text and becoming more verbal and visual. The issues in education are large and connected to the state of society as a whole. We cannot ignore these effects when we talk about improving education since schools must deal daily with students’ social and emotional problems (discipline issues)’. But one should not lose hope, and I am so happy and grateful to have a faculty here at Shanghai Singapore International School who are trying to practise so many good things in their classrooms every day in order to make a change in students’ lives. When I walk around and visit the classes in our Senior School, I observe simple yet crucial and fundamental practices: • I see a teacher making a conscious effort to answer student questions by getting students to answer their own questions. For that teacher, the most rewarding part of this method is to see students learning from one another. • I see another teacher reading, talking about his subject, then letting the students discuss and share their ideas about it in a more formal way. This is the foundation of the teacher’s classes and he tries to make clear to his students that ‘everything is communication’. • I see a class where every word the teacher says is clearly enunciated, every sentence is uttered without hesitation, and every idea is carefully, clearly, and patiently explained. During her lesson, there is no chatter of students whispering to one other, and even at the back of the classroom everyone is fully engaged.
• I see another teacher having a feedback session after every lesson or activity seeking out some students to give him feedback, and he takes note of it for next time. He says ‘Just because you have taught it does not mean the students have learned it’. Frequent feedback helps him ensure that his teaching and learning activities result in actual learning. • I see another teacher who is inspiring her students to initiate an experience where they will be able to apply their knowledge beyond the classroom to real-life situations. Teaching is a skill, and like any skill it can be learned and practised. Therefore, hiring teachers is more important than any other aspect of educational management. From several years of teaching, I have observed that schools are not buildings, timetables, and technology. At the most fundamental level, schools are about relationships. The highest achieving schools are those where the students and teachers trust, respect and care about each other. This is also true for the teachers and administration: they trust, respect, and care for each other and work toward the same goals of student success. I have also observed that when teachers get to know their students, build positive relationships and strive to make their classes enjoyable places to learn, their students excel both academically and socially. In essence, we should always remember that innovative educational methods and trends will only function with real human connections. We can only improve our education when we teach with our heart and mind. Real teaching should not be lost or replaced with anything else. Nowadays in a classroom, we need our relationships, conversations and values more than ever. Reference Johnson W L (2014) Strategies for Improving School Performance, Available via https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED552919.pdf UN (2019) Sustainable Development Goals, Available via www.un.org/ sustainabledevelopment/education/
Doruk Gurkan is Senior School Assistant Principal at Shanghai Singapore International School. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Curriculum, learning and teaching
Meaningful and holistic integration of mathematics content in life Stefanos Gialamas and Angeliki Stamati on a project that encompasses everything from athletics to psychology
in a way that is relevant to individual needs and interests, and above all is exciting. The range of selection of topics on mathematical projects is very broad. Students choose to focus on sports such as basketball, taekwondo, tennis, or soccer. Other students opt for Arts having drawn a face, or a flower through equations. Designing a house through linear equations, or the mathematical interpretation of psychology researches have been very popular student choices. On the first day of the class, students discuss with the instructor(s) the creative year-long projects. Expectations are made clear to them, together with the due date proposal, the assessment criteria and the settings of the final presentation. Students need to answer two questions:
As educators we are constantly trying to evolve and enhance our teaching practices, to inspire our students and to convey to them our passion for the content we are teaching. Creating an inspiring environment in a mathematics classroom has always been a struggle to many mathematics instructors, as students regard their discipline with skepticism and many times with aversion. At ACS Athens, the delivery of mathematics is defined in harmonious and holistic terms. In particular, high school students of Algebra 2 and Trigonometry are exposed to an authentic, relevant real world application of mathematics through year-long creative projects. Students explore a specific mathematical concept using their individual skills creatively
Curriculum, learning and teaching
‘What do I like doing most in my personal time?’ and ‘How can I relate this to the Algebra 2 and Trigonometry curriculum?’ The instructor(s) of the course assist(s) the student in making the connection between those two questions. Once the proposal is finalized each student is assigned a project supervisor who will guide him/her through the year-long process. The proposal must be submitted before the end of the first quarter, and students must submit a written proposal based on a mathematics topic that is part of the Algebra 2 and Trigonometry curriculum. In their proposal, students must briefly describe what this mathematics concept is and
how creatively they plan on presenting the final day of the exhibition. In addition, students need to clearly identify the real-life application of their chosen topic. The year-long creative math project is a continuous learning process embarked upon at the beginning of the academic year and climaxing at the end of the year. In between times, students have a close communication with their individual supervisors. The instructor(s) fine-tune the process with quarterly checkups that assess not only the level of commitment but also the quantity and the quality of the progress demonstrated.
The rubric used to assess student proposals is as follows: Catergory
Uses complex and refined mathematical reasoning.
Uses effective mathematical reasoning
Some evidence of mathematical reasoning.
Little evidence of mathematical reasoning.
Explanation shows complete understanding of the mathematical concepts used to describe the project.
Explanation shows substantial understanding of the mathematical concepts used to describe the project.
Explanation shows some understanding of the mathematical concepts needed to describe the project.
Explanation shows very limited understanding of the underlying concepts needed to describe the project.
Mathematical Terminology and Notation
Correct terminology and notation are always used, making it easy to understand what was done.
Correct terminology and notation are usually used, making it fairly easy to understand what was done.
Correct terminology and notation are used, but it is sometimes not easy to understand what was done.
There is little use, or a lot of inappropriate use, of terminology and notation.
Strategy/ Procedures of the upcoming presentation
Uses an efficient and effective strategy for the upcoming presentation of the project.
Uses an effective strategy for the upcoming presentation of the project.
Uses a not clearly defined strategy for the upcoming presentation of the project.
Uses a non-effective strategy for the upcoming presentation of the project.
Creativity and authenticity of the project
Transforms the authentic idea of the project into entirely new form.
Synthesizes the authentic idea of the project into a coherent whole.
Connects authentic ideas in novel ways.
Recognizes existing connections among authentic ideas.
Neatness and Organization
The proposal is presented in a neat, clear, organized fashion that is easy to read.
The proposal is presented in a neat and organized fashion that is usually easy to read.
The proposal is presented in an organized fashion but may be hard to read at times.
The proposal appears sloppy and unorganized. It is hard to know what information goes together.
Curriculum, learning and teaching The final project is evaluated on the basis of: • the degree of difficulty of the mathematical topic • the degree of creativity of the presentation • the project’s connection to a real-life application while the rubric used in assessing the final presentation is as follows Criteria
Knowledge and understanding
Able to find/recognize/ name/show and organize examples to describe a mathematical concept when solving challenging problems in a variety of situations.
Able to find/ recognize/name/ show and organize examples to describe a mathematical concept when solving challenging problems.
Able to find/ recognize/name/ show examples to describe a mathematical concept when solving more complex problems.
Able to find/ recognize/name examples to describe a mathematical concept when solving simple problems.
Not able to find examples to describe a mathematical concept.
Able to develop and implement a simple procedure to demonstrate excellent conceptual understanding.
Able to develop and implement a simple procedure to demonstrate good conceptual understanding.
Able to develop and implement a simple procedure to demonstrate satisfactory conceptual understanding.
Able to develop and implement a simple procedure to demonstrate basic conceptual understanding.
Not able to develop and implement a procedure.
Able to recognize a variety of patterns and describe them as relationships.
Able to recognize patterns and describe them as relationships.
Able to recognize some patterns and suggest relationships.
Able to recognize some patterns.
Not able to recognize patterns.
Reflection in mathematics
Critically explains the reasonableness of results. Assesses and describes in detail the importance of the results and their connection to real life. Justifies the accuracy of the results and suggests improvements of the method used.
Explains the reasonableness of results. Describes the importance of results and their connection to real life. Justifies the accuracy of the results and suggests improvements of the method used.
Briefly explains the reasonableness of results. Describes the importance of results and their connection to real life. Attempts to justify the accuracy of the results.
Attempts to explain the reasonableness of results and their connection to real life.
Does not attempt to explain the reasonableness of results and their connection to real life.
Communication in mathematics through
Shows excellent use of mathematical language and/or mathematical representation. Shows calculations clearly and accurately.
Shows good use of mathematical language and/ or mathematical representation. Shows calculations clearly.
Shows sufficient use of mathematical language and/ or mathematical representation. Shows calculations.
Shows basic use of mathematical language and/ or mathematical representation. Shows some calculations.
Does not use any mathematical representation or calculations.
Satisfactory model designed and created to demonstrate conceptual understanding.
Simple model designed and created to demonstrate conceptual understanding.
No model designed/ created to demonstrate conceptual understanding.
Designing and Creating
Creative model designed Interesting model and created to demonstrate designed and created conceptual understanding. to demonstrate conceptual understanding.
The philosophy behind this project is to encourage student choice and to promote students to investigate aspects of a subject in which they are genuinely interested, using their own discretion in terms of approach and medium. In doing so, their curiosity guides them into the real world of mathematics. This freedom is meant to foster life-long interest in mathematics. It is well documented that when human beings are interested in a particular concept or idea, they become self-inspired to learn more, by mastering the concept, and exploring opportunities to utilize their knowledge of the concept. Additionally, they research the implementation of their ideas
in multidimensional ways. Therefore, these self-inspired individuals are becoming mathematicians, musicians, philosophers, and so on. Dr Stefanos Gialamas is President of the American Community Schools (ACS) of Athens, Greece, and holds a BS, MA and PhD in Mathematics. Dr Angeliki Stamati is a faculty member of the Mathematics department at ACS Athens and holds a BS, MA and PhD in Applied Mathematics and Studies of Science. Email: email@example.com
Curriculum, learning and teaching
Are IB students prepared to defend against ‘fake news’? Shane Horn on encouraging critical thinking ‘The IB prepares students to succeed in a world where facts and fiction merge in the news, and where asking the right questions is a crucial skill that will allow them to flourish long after they’ve left our programmes’ reads a statement on the website of the International Baccalaureate (IB), with a link to a section about the IB Diploma Programme critical thinking course Theory of Knowledge. As a Theory of Knowledge coordinator, the one question I cannot help but ask is: How do we know? While we can know that we are preparing students to become lifelong critical thinkers, how do we know they are actually becoming lifelong critical thinkers? In other words: How do we know we are accomplishing our goal? This question was on my mind in the winter of 2016 when I came across a study by the Stanford History Education Group that measured digital literacy skills, or what they call ‘civic online reasoning’. The Stanford researchers were alarmed by the performance of the U.S. students, going so far as to call the results ‘dismaying’ and ‘bleak’ (Wineburg et al, 2016, p4). I decided to test how students at an international school in Finland would compare, and administered the same tasks to a group of ‘pre-IB’ students preparing to enter the IBDP, and to another group preparing to graduate from the programme. The results of this replication (Horn & Veermans, 2019) were rather striking. The first good news is that the graduating class outperformed the incoming class, which suggests (after accounting for confounding variables) that the IBDP strengthens student ability to distinguish reliable information from ‘fake news’ in contexts of social media and online news. The more compelling outcome, however, was the differences between both of these groups and the U.S. results: the students in Finland significantly outperformed the U.S. students across the board. In fact, on several tasks these students performed at the mastery level to a similar degree that the students in the U.S. had performed at the beginning level. The results were like negative mirror images of each other. (See Task 4 figure overleaf) The natural question which I proceeded to explore with my mentor, Dr Koen Veermans of the University of Turku, was: Why the difference? We uncovered an existing framework developed by Robert Ennis (1989) that considers curricular approaches to facilitating critical thinking to help establish causal comparison. Ennis classified these approaches as follows:
General: Critical thinking is explicitly taught as a separate course. Infusion: Critical thinking is explicitly taught within subject areas. Immersion: Critical thinking is implicitly taught within subject areas. Mixed: The general approach with either infusion or immersion. When we applied these curricular approaches to the three curricula under consideration—the IBDP, the Finnish National Core Curriculum (which nearly all of the students in our research studied prior to entering the IBDP), and California’s Common Core State Standards (which all of the students in the Stanford study were studying)—we found that both the IBDP and the Finnish curriculum teach critical thinking explicitly as a separate course. This was not the case with the U.S. curriculum. On March 11, 2011, there was a large nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. This image was posted on Imgur, a photo sharing website, in July 2015.
Fukushima Nuclear Flowers
by pleasegoogleShakerAamerpleasegoogleDavidKelly • a month ago Not much more to say, this is what happens when flowers get nuclear birth defects
Does this post provide strong evidence about the conditions near the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant? Explain your reasoning.
Curriculum, learning and teaching
is and how to do it, the stronger the outcomes become on tasks measuring these skills, including those which transfer to real world contexts. I would go even further. In light of the current global push toward prioritising ‘21st century skills’, it seems appropriate and indeed necessary to advocate a complete professionalisation of critical thinking as a core subject. Let us place this subject on equal footing with traditional core subjects such as mathematics, the natural and social sciences, and language and literary studies. University training programmes which offer majors in teacher education, and governmental bodies which oversee teacher certification subjects, should be adding “critical thinking” to their lists of available subjects, and they should be doing so sooner than later. Not least, we should be looking to the models of the IBDP and the Finnish education system for how best to integrate critical thinking instruction into the curriculum. Their outcomes are speaking volumes. References Ennis R (1989) Critical thinking and subject specificity: Clarification and needed research, Educational Researcher, 18(3), 4-10 Horn S and Veermans K (2019) Critical thinking efficacy and transfer skills defend against ‘fake news’ at an international school in Finland, Journal of Research in International Education, 18(1), 23-41 Tiruneh D, Verburgh A and Elen, J (2014) Effectiveness of critical thinking instruction in higher education: A systematic review of intervention studies, Higher Education Studies, 4(1), 1-17 Wineburg S, McGrew S, Breakstone J and Ortega T (2016) Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning, Stanford Digital Repository. Retrieved from http://purl.stanf ord.edu/fv751yt5934
Shane Horn is IB Diploma Theory of Knowledge Coordinator, and teacher of Theory of Knowledge, Literature & Performance, and Theatre at Amman Baccalaureate School, Jordan Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Summer |
With the IBDP, this is through Theory of Knowledge, which is also deeply embedded into the course subjects. With the trend over the past decade to make Theory of Knowledge even more explicit within the course subjects, the IBDP pretty clearly follows the mixed infusion approach. Finland also facilitates critical thinking as a separate and distinct course through philosophy, worldview and ethics courses. It was a bit trickier to determine how the course subjects are facilitated, since in Finland teachers retain autonomy in determining how to deliver the curriculum. Although there is plenty of evidence to suggest that subject area teachers in Finland are inclined to teach critical thinking explicitly, we had to determine at least at the curricular level that it follows the mixed immersion approach. California, meanwhile, does not have a separate course in critical thinking. It is embedded into the subjects explicitly or implicitly depending on the course and teacher. Hence, it follows immersion or infusion only. So what does this all mean? Quite a lot, it turns out. A survey of national curricula around the world reveals that students studying in both the IBDP and the Finnish curriculum are provided a unique opportunity, as critical thinking is rarely taught as a separate course in schools. The overriding implication for designers of educational curricula is clear: make critical thinking explicit. Have a specific course in critical thinking, and connect that course to all the other courses. For classroom teachers of any curriculum, the message is this: Teach critical thinking in your class, and teach the skills explicitly. The pedagogical benefits of tasks and activities which implicitly embed critical thinking—such as concept mapping, facilitation of small group discussion within subject matter instruction, and/or merely asking higher order thinking questions without any explicit instruction in critical thinking development—remain inconsistent and inconclusive (Tiruneh et al, 2014, pp 5-6). Where most researchers agree, which is supported by our recent research, is that the more explicit we are about what critical thinking
Curriculum, learning and teaching
Different strokes Researchers at the University of Melbourne are developing a model for teachers wanting to improve their differentiation techniques, writes Nicky Dulfer In a classroom filled with students who all learn in different ways, it can be hard for teachers to make sure everyone is keeping up. Differentiated instruction, an approach that encourages teachers to cater to individual student needs and preferences, can help overcome this challenge. However, differentiation can be a tricky term for teachers to understand. It requires a particular ‘mind-set’ and encompasses a broad range of strategies. These can include: having clearly defined ‘learning goals’ to keep each student on track, allowing different access points into material, varying task sophistication, encouraging student choice, varying pacing and establishing flexible learning environments. A great example involves an English teacher who wanted to introduce her Year 2 Literature class to the Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth. To ensure the information was accessible she developed varied activities, which included: putting together the lines of a speech in order, guessing the order of a storyboard of the play, and a ‘32-second version’ of the play in which students read out key lines and acted out the deaths. These activities gave students multiple points of Winter
access to the narrative; by the time they came to read the opening scene, they had a sense of where the action would lead and were excited to learn more. When working in a programme such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) there can be added pressure for teachers – they must adhere to strict curriculum needs and meet local and global expectations. The University of Melbourne, which offers online courses for teachers seeking to specialise in IB teaching across Primary, Middle or Diploma Years, also undertakes leading research in the area. A study undertaken by the University in 2017 examined IBDP classrooms in two countries to enhance our understanding of how teachers are implementing differentiation strategies within the IBDP. We found that while many teachers are enacting a variety of differentiated approaches to learning, there is some confusion as to what might be considered differentiation and how these strategies could be applied within the programme. This suggested the need for further research and professional development opportunities in this space, which we have been developing.
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Curriculum, learning and teaching
Observing differentiated learning In our study we examined six schools across Hong Kong and Victoria, Australia, observing 18 teachers and 59 individual lessons (Dulfer et al, 2017). One of the most useful developments was our ‘lesson observation instrument’, which helped us define the ways in which differentiation can be used in classes; this was based on Tomlinson’s (2001) framework of content, process, product and environment. Throughout the study we recorded many promising examples of differentiated instruction which we have placed in the research report as promising practices. A key finding was that while many teachers indicated they felt differentiated learning was important, they admitted they didn’t always follow through with the techniques in the classroom and were sometimes unsure how to do so. A number of teachers in the study felt they had little control over the subject content. There was a sense that many of the subjects were ‘content-heavy’, and with so much to be covered over the two years of the IB, these teachers felt it was a race against time. Additionally, teachers were very aware they were working in a high-stakes assessment environment. They noted that all students needed to be prepared for the same assessments and felt this inhibited their opportunities to differentiate content. Finally, there was a strong sense of pressure from schools and parents for students to perform well, and teachers felt they were often teaching to the exam. These factors can lead to a reluctance to experiment with differentiated learning, with some teachers noting that the time it takes to prepare differentiated instruction can be a hindrance. Putting research into practice Our initial study clearly showed the need for more professional development in this area. Many of the teachers noted they would like to learn more about the differentiation practices we were observing, so they could try them out in their own classrooms. On the basis of this unexpected finding we created and piloted an Action Research Model in a national school in Australia last year. This has been designed to enable Winter
teachers to take control of their own learning needs, work closely with their peers, and have a grounded approach to inclusion in the classroom. Each teacher who took part in the pilot study was observed at least three times to establish how they approached differentiation. They worked in groups of three, which enabled them to learn from each other, as well as from one of the University experts involved in the study. Using our observation instrument to frame feedback sessions, teachers could then choose two aspects of their teaching that they wanted to improve. We found that participants really benefitted from watching each other teach and were able to see different approaches to teaching and learning. All of the participants commented that they found it useful to see good practice in action and used this to reflect on their own techniques. This pilot study has demonstrated that it is crucial to give teachers the time to learn from each other. It has also provided further insight as to how assessment developmental frameworks can support professional growth. As we develop our research and professional development models further, we will be looking to expand into an international setting to explore how differentiated learning can work within programs such as the IBDP. References Dulfer N, McKernan A & Brindle K (2017) Different countries, different approaches to teaching and learning? The University of Melbourne. Available at: www.ibo.org/globalassets/dulfer-jta-final-report-en.pdf Tomlinson, C A (2001) How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Tomlinson C A & Javius E L (2012) Teach up for excellence. Educational Leadership, 69(5), 28- 33.
Dr Nicky Dulfer is a Senior Lecturer in Educational Policy, and Academic Co-ordinator: Master of International Education: International Baccalaureate at the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Email: email@example.com
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Dr Neely’s dilemma E T Ranger ponders cultural misunderstandings Do you remember the Duke University contretemps in January 2019? A lot has happened since, so it’s not surprising if you have forgotten. Dr Megan Neely was running a postgraduate course in Biostatistics at Duke University, when two of her colleagues came to her complaining that some of the Chinese students were gathering at lunchtime in a noisy bunch and chatting in Chinese, when they could be practising their English. The colleagues even suggested recording names of transgressors for the time when they needed academic references. Dr Neely posted a message to the students accordingly. The predictable uproar ended with Dr Neely standing down from management of the postgraduate programme and major embarrassment all around. This is a familiar story; why is it still happening? There was once a time when students were forbidden to use their mother-tongue during school hours, but does this happen any more? Current wisdom advises that the relaxation of lapsing into the home language during recesses is a source of joy and spiritual recharging, especially during the early stages of proficiency. If the school wants students to learn from English-speaking peers they can always engineer contacts of interdependence, such as buddying when they first arrive, or working in class in deliberately mixed teams. Linking the new language to painful compulsion is not likely to make for happy learners. When those of us who are English-speakers are in a country with a language that we cannot speak, the moments of sweet relief when we find an English-speaker are such a joy that we can find ourselves chatting like old friends with the most unlikely compatriots. A language community is a little bit of home. The late Mike Allan, a visionary international school teacher, used to put students to work together in language groups, which then reported to the class in English. The most recentlyarrived students had the highest level of education and status in their own country, but the older hands had better English. The ‘new’ students earned due respect within their group, while the ‘old’ students demonstrated their skills at the new language. Maximum gain, minimum pain. There is evidence that success within a mother-tongue class gives precious confidence which carries over into working in the
new language. It seems humiliating to make students spend all day in a milieu in which they are incompetent, when they have spent a lifetime becoming good students in their own language-world. There are increasing numbers of international schools now where management and most families are local, and Anglophone teachers are hired to lend prestige. In this case enforced English may still be the norm, for the sake of the image, but conscientious teachers will feel uneasy about the practice. There are even stories of families who insist on using English at home, even if the style and standard are some way short of the mother-tongue level of the teachers. This is a serious challenge, calling for very delicate negotiation. The local relationship between hosts, school management, families and expatriate teachers is something that every teacher should look at very, very carefully. There are plenty of stories of teachers who didn’t do so, and paid for it! At Duke the message on the website became a cause célèbre in hours, to the surprise – and some embarrassment – of the Chinese students. Others murmured online about ‘snowflakes’ and ‘microaggressions’, but we should not dismiss the outcry as irrelevant. In the USA the battle against prejudice is an historic and continuing issue, but it became clear that the reaction of the Chinese students was very different, starting from a tradition of deep respect for learning. There is quite clearly a range of cultural positions involved in this debate. I suggest that some elements of this issue are everyday stuff for us: do we recognise that second-language students need times of language relief? Do we recognise that some communities find it good manners to stay together in a group? Are we taking positive action to help first- and second-language students to work in mixed groups? Do we have a mechanism for cultural misunderstandings to be resolved in an atmosphere of respect rather than selfrighteousness? The scenario has happened many times before, and will no doubt happen many times again. But let’s hope it doesn’t happen in your school!
There are increasing numbers of international schools now where management and most families are local, and Anglophone teachers are hired to lend prestige.
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Bad science and serious consequences! Richard Harwood looks back at the impact of the MMR controversy Ben Goldacre’s book ‘Bad Science’ was first published in 2008 and broke new ground in exposing the misuse of science in various important areas of everyday concern. ‘Bad Science’ was an amusing, yet serious, discussion of the misappropriation of the scientific method (pseudo-science) to promote fake claims in medicine and the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. Originally derived from a series of newspaper articles, the book certainly made its mark; not least because it addressed one of the major medical controversies of the decade, and one which continues to provoke consternation and repercussions to the present day. That controversy was centred on the use of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and a suggested, but unproven, link to the development of autism in children. The MMR vaccine is widely and effectively used around the world, with over 500 million doses having been given in over 100 countries by 2001. Prior to use of the vaccine, measles had resulted in 2.6 million deaths per year worldwide.
Commercial MMR vaccine preparation for the prevention of measles, epidemic mumps and rubella.
The suggestion of a link with autism first came to the fore in the early 1990s and gained extensive public notice as a result of the 1998 MMR autism fraud, where a fraudulent research paper written by Dr Andrew Wakefield was published in the prestigious UK medical journal The Lancet. Wakefield claimed to link the use of the vaccine to autism and bowel disorders. The story was given considerable media exposure in the UK and led quickly to parents shunning the vaccination of their children. In consequence the numbers of children contracting measles and mumps has increased significantly, resulting in deaths or serious permanent injury. When the medical authorities investigated Wakefield’s research methods he was found to have unethical conflicts of interest and to have manipulated the evidence. The original Winter
scientific paper was eventually withdrawn, and Dr Wakefield was ‘struck off’ the UK medical register and banned from UK medical practice. Over the years several reputed international studies have tested for any increased risk of autism in children receiving the MMR vaccine. None of them has found any evidence for this – the most recent, and highly comprehensive, report being published in February 2019 by a group of Danish medical researchers. Despite the continued refutation of any link between use of the MMR vaccine and autism, an antivaccination lobby has developed in a number of countries with significant consequences for children’s health. Dr Wakefield himself has moved to the United States and gained support from an ‘anti-vaxx’ movement publishing its ideas through the internet. The spread of these ideas has been linked to populist movements in several countries which spread distrust of an established expert elite. Parents in the US, Italy, France and Ireland, for instance, have been encouraged to think that vaccination in general may be dangerous and may compromise their child’s immune system. In February 2019 a Congressional subcommittee met in the US to discuss a series of outbreaks of measles in New York, Texas, Illinois, and Washington State. In the latter case the outbreak has been so serious that the Governor declared a state of emergency. In Ireland, a recent upsurge in cases of mumps has been attributed in part to a reluctance of parents to have their children vaccinated.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently stated that ‘vaccine hesitancy’ is one of the ten biggest threats to health worldwide.
A search for ‘vaccine’ on Instagram brought up posts that included messages suggesting that the jabs not only caused autism ‘within hours of vaccination’ but could also cause cancer. Concern is increasing. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently stated that ‘vaccine hesitancy’ is one of the ten biggest threats to health worldwide. The Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) in England, Simon Stevens, has publicly expressed his concern about the rise of ‘fake news’ on vaccination which he blames for causing a surge in measles (2018 saw four times as many cases across
Europe as occurred the previous year). He drew attention to the role of internet social media sites such as YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram in spreading misinformation on vaccination. For instance, a newspaper investigation found that YouTube searches about vaccination drive users towards misinformation, while a search for ‘vaccine’ on Instagram brought up posts that included messages suggesting that the jabs not only caused autism ‘within hours of vaccination’ but could also cause cancer. Internet sites are beginning to tackle the spread of health misinformation, but the algorithmic changes required will take time to become effective. In the meantime, it is worth exercising caution with respect to information we see on the web, and to remember that it is a largely unedited resource – which brings with it all the dangers that entails. A useful reference site on the content of the different types of vaccine that are in approved use can be found at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/vaccine-ingredients/, while the tragic side of measles infection is poignantly described by Roald Dahl on the death of his daughter Olivia from measles encephalitis aged 7: w w w.roalddahl.com /roald- dahl/timeline /1960s/ november-1962 Dr Richard Harwood is an education consultant (scientific and international education). Email: email@example.com
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People and places
The IB turned 50 in 2018! This is how we celebrated Mickie Singleton marks a milestone The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a worldwide community of students, educators and schools with a shared mission to offer the best possible international education, combined with an emphasis on human values. In 2018, the IB celebrated its 50th anniversary and is proud that its schools and teachers, in an ever-growing number of countries around the world, continue to develop students to be internationally minded, courageous risk takers and critical thinkers. Founded in 1968, the IB has become a widely recognized and respected international education organization, setting a global standard of academically-rigorous learning, teaching and assessment. In March 2019 IB programmes are currently taught to more than 1.4 million students in over 5,000 schools
in 153 countries. During our 50th anniversary celebrations, we had the chance to showcase what has always inspired, driven and strengthened the IB by bringing people together and hearing how they contribute to the IBâ€™s missionâ€”to create a better world through education. At the start of 2018, we held the #weareIB campaign (https://ibo.org/50years/welcome-to-weareib/we-are-ib/) â€“ where we saw educators and students alike thank the IB educator who had inspired them throughout their lives. It was great to see so many thank you messages shared by the IB community across the globe. Later in 2018, the #generationIB campaign (https://ibo.org/50years/this-isgenerationib/generationIB-in-action/) brought together
People and places students from all ages and backgrounds to tackle some of humanity’s greatest challenges. The students were asked to showcase the ways they are working to find solutions for these global issues involving the environment, education, health and migration. Students asked questions, fostered community and leadership in their groups, and came up with many inspiring solutions. We are immensely proud of the way IB students consistently seek to apply their learning to improve the world around them. We celebrated IB educators at three IB Global Conferences in Vienna, San Diego and Singapore where educational leaders, decision makers and practitioners from schools, universities and governments from around the world came to showcase collaborative skills and share innovative ideas surrounding the mission of the International Baccalaureate, focussing on international education. This year, again three IB Global Conferences are being held – this time in Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi and New Orleans. We are also holding our first European Education Festival in Croatia, after the successful pilot event —‘African Education Festival’— held in Ghana in 2018. We also published our 50th anniversary book: 50 years of education for a better world (https://ibo.org/news/ news-about-the-ib/new-book-celebrates-50-years-ofinternational-education/). The book gathers together some wonderful stories from the IB community – stretching right back to the very founding of the IB in 1968. Our special 50th anniversary edition of IB World magazine was published
in October, featuring many interesting stories from within the IB community and showcasing interesting milestones of the IB over the past 50 years. We were honoured that four wonderfully impressive IB alumni were featured in our celebratory video campaign. These alumni have gone on to change the world in their own unique way – journalist Aernout van Lynden, activist Maryam al-Ammari, musician Falana, and astronaut Akihiko Hoshide – who told their IB stories beautifully, and offered encouragement to current IB students. Have a look at the alumni trailer video we made (https://player.vimeo.com/video/264569586). And finally, rounding off the year, we had a 24-hour social media event (https://ibo.org/50years/all-events/ happybirthdayib/) where schools in almost all of the world’s time zones sent us their personal #happybirthdayIB messages to share on Twitter and Instagram. Looking back, we are very proud of the wonderful achievements of IB students, educators and schools over the past years – and we look forward to more inspiring collaborations in 2019, and beyond. Mickie Singleton is Communications Administrator at the IB Global Centre in The Hague [https://ibo.org/] Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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People and places
Canterbury Primary School students climbing Mt Huangshan, China
Sister schools and study tours – a passport to the world Such trips are more important than ever, writes Brendan Hitchens If the world is a classroom, then education must be experiential. Learning must be a partnership and content must have real context. School study tours are one medium that goes a long way towards achieving this. Overseas study tours, and particularly when home-stay accommodation is involved, offer an educational opportunity like no other. The immersive experience develops students’ cultural competence by acknowledging and debunking previously held biases or stereotypes. The study tours develop a new perspective and global mindset in students, granting them a greater awareness of themselves and others. They provide self-confidence by offering leadership opportunities that don’t just engage students, but empower them. They provide challenges that stretch comfort zones, whilst making resilient problem-solvers in the process. They give students the opportunity to be active global citizens by positioning them as participants, not merely observers. They provide genuine opportunities for language acquisition by speaking in non-native tongues and encouraging multilingualism. Winter
They develop curiosity and open-mindedness by asking questions and challenging answers. They make learning visible across subject disciplines by students being exposed to different educational systems, and they offer a chance to celebrate diversity through being accepted into a new community. These are all invaluable skills that a classroom setting alone can’t offer and, most importantly, the skills that students will take in to their adult lives to create a more tolerant, empathic and inclusive world. Canterbury Primary School in Melbourne, Australia and Jiangsu Primary School Attached in Suzhou, China have a strong sister school relationship and see the importance of internationalising education and global citizenship. For the past six years a reciprocal study tour program has taken place where students spend time at each other’s school and houses, and are immersed in each other’s culture and daily lives. Whilst the tours take in visits to significant attractions and landmarks, it is the time spent learning together that has the most profound effect. Ms Tao, Principal of Jiangsu
People and places
Primary School Attached, says: ‘In the process of growing up, it is essential for students to learn the cultures of others and to have a firsthand experience. In the past, students could only learn about things around them, but now they are able to step out of their comfort zone to interact with other students and their families in Australia. This broadens their horizon as they not only learn how to interact with others but also learn the lifestyle, habits and mindset of people from across the world’. Canterbury Primary School Principal David Wells agrees: ‘Sister school relationships provide genuine contextualised opportunities for students to experience different cultures, to make lifelong friendships and to expand their future opportunities for both learning and working. For teachers, they provide the opportunity to learn, to reflect on and improve their practice by taking the best from two systems and putting it together to improve learning for all students’. Improving learning outcomes for all students is a major focus for The New Pedagogies for Deep Learning Global Partnership (https://npdl.global/). Working with over 1300 schools in 7 countries, their model frames curriculum around collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, citizenship, communication and character. These are, as asserted by global directors Michael Fullan, Greg Butler and Joanne Quinn, ‘the skill sets each and every student needs to achieve and excel in, in order to flourish in today’s complex world’. In a similar way, The Melbourne Declaration is the vision for the educational goals of young Australians, agreed upon by all Australian Education Ministers. The major focus area is for ‘all young Australians to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens’. On the last point, it details the importance of students being able to relate to and communicate across cultures and to appreciate social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity. The Melbourne Declaration acts as a guiding document for the Australian Curriculum through which intercultural understanding is a strand. This strand addresses the notion of active and informed citizens through declaring intercultural understanding as ‘an essential part of living with others in the diverse world of the twenty-first century. It assists young
Canterbury Primary School students in Suzhou, China
Canterbury Primary School students at the top of Mount Huangshan, China
people to become responsible local and global citizens, equipped through their education for living and working together in an interconnected world’. The strand focuses on three key dispositions in expressing empathy, demonstrating respect and taking responsibility. Education is about preparing students for the future – and with the future so uncertain, the knowledge, skills and dispositions of intercultural understanding, and indeed those which Study Tours develop, are more vital to our students now than ever before. Brendan Hitchens is an educator from Melbourne, Australia who is passionate about intercultural understanding and global citizenship. Twitter: @brendanedu Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Canterbury Primary School students at The Great Wall of China
People and places
Striving to serve our island community Daniel Slevin writes from the International School of Koje Korea’s second city, Busan, lies in the far South-East of Korea. Yet if you drive through a sea tunnel and over 2 suspension bridges to the island of Geoje you will find yourself in a far more international community. This is because Geoje island is the location of the world’s second and third largest shipyards, and serving them both is the International School of Koje (ISK) – spelled with the older Romanisation of the island’s name. Our school is made up of a diverse and ever-shifting community dependent on the projects in the shipyards, from North Sea oil rigs to naval submarines. As of April 2019 Texans, Indians and Kazakhs make up two of the largest groups among over 30 nationalities, whereas a few years ago it was Norwegians, Indians and Australians. As different projects are designed, built, and completed, so our community shifts in size. Over the past decade ISK has grown from fewer than 100 students to nearly 500, before now settling at around 150. This ‘accordion effect’ is due to oil prices, as when oil prices are high – as they were from 2006-2014 – the shipyard’s order books bustle. Winter
As our smaller school grew, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) were able to think afresh about how best to educate our diverse community with total freedom of curriculum choice. Fieldwork Education’s International Primary Curriculum (IPC) represented the values the school wanted to imbue in its staff and learners – those of challenge, expert teaching and a plethora of learning activities that would make the school a place where everybody would look forward to learning every day, whilst providing a framework for rigor and support. For our Middle Years, the IMYC (International Middle Years Curriculum) was selected because we recognized the value of a curriculum rooted in the body of neuroscience of the adolescent brain and specific to the three very formative years (ages 11-14). We have not looked back since, as the level of student engagement and enquiry is exceptional. We added the International Early Years Curriculum (IEYC) to our offering in 2017, a year after our first IPC accreditation and the same year in which we became the first school to be accredited for the IMYC. Next year sees us take on
People and places
Our school is made up of a diverse and ever-shifting community dependent on the projects in the shipyards, from North Sea oil rigs to naval submarines.
in readiness for exams that are not the be-all-and-end-all, would be of value to students as they approached their final years of schooling and, thereafter, university. For Years 12 and 13 we knew we had to grow steadily, so planned to open those classes over the following years – which also gave us time to research and consider accordingly. One question we faced was whether the exam-based courses of IGCSE clashed with the philosophy of the IMYC. In our recruitment for this new secondary section of the school (now Middle Years and Higher Years) we have made it clear that we want teachers to teach the IMYC in either one or two subjects where possible, as well as one subject to IGCSE standard. This way our teachers are able to shape their Higher Years classes in such a way that enquiry and collaboration remain rooted. Students in our first Higher Years class talk about how they love the way that they learn at ISK compared to the approaches experienced in previous schools. When recruiting secondary teachers, we did so with our school’s distributed leadership structure in mind. Our most experienced IMYC teacher leads this curriculum, while another experienced IGCSE teacher, who keeps our international mindedness flowing through the Higher Years by teaching Global Perspectives and History, leads the IGCSE. Two other teachers with keen energy were tasked with working with the SLT in researching the IB Diploma Programme and, simultaneously, what our own possible diploma might look like. We quickly realised that, while the IB Diploma is an excellent fit for our school in many ways, our currently small secondary population and the amount of focus the triple accreditation is taking, mean that the time is not right for us – and may or may not be in the future. We looked at creating
the challenge of an IEYC-IPC-IMYC triple accreditation – a journey we are already deeply into as part of our professional development cycle. Up until last year, ISK only taught students up to the Middle Years. This meant that any students on the island over 14 years of age would have to endure hours of travelling by bus to Busan or another city for their schooling. Some parents would not accept a job in Geoje at all for this reason; some families would only relocate the working parent while the other parent and the children remained at home; some parents with multiple children would wish them all to attend the same school and so would bus their brood each day; while some parents would not make full use of our Middle Years in the knowledge that sooner or later their teen would need to move. Sooner at least would enable relationships to be struck. When we considered the number of parents in these different categories, the potential total was significant. We were clearly not serving our community in its entirety. It was time to grow. Last year we set about surveying how to build upon our Middle Years. We found that because of the reasons noted above, potential numbers were low, though we realized that for change to happen a plunge of commitment would be required from the school and the parents of our inaugural Years 10 and 11 classes. We researched and considered our curriculum options and decided upon the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) for Years 10 and 11. We were confident that we could adopt this two-year examinationbased course while maintaining the values of the IMYC and our school more widely. The appeal of ensuring students had a solid knowledge and skill base of subject-specific content, as well as the experience of managing their learning
People and places
our own diploma sealed by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), a local partner university and the Korean Ministry of Education, and after further consideration found that this would not be necessary. In opening our Higher Years we registered and were approved by Cambridge Assessment International Education and, as such, can offer IGCSEs and also A-levels for Years 12 and 13. One major benefit of A-levels compared to our own diploma is that they have immediate currency in universities around the world. Additionally, as a small school where we are hiring bi-disciplinarians to cover the Middle Years we have the flexibility to timetable our teachers so that those who can offer A-level subjects demanded by students can reduce their Middle Years teaching load. Of course, academic qualifications are not everything. Middle Years students at our school take part in the William Pike Challenge Award for the entirety of each school year, whereby they pursue community service, a passion project and outdoor activities. Building upon this, we have become an Independent Award Centre for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award for our Higher Years, while the Middle Years will continue to take the William Pike Challenge Award as it is most suitable to their needs and experience of community and outdoor projects. Unlike the Early Years, Primary Years and Middle Years which each have a curriculum of their own (the IEYC, IPC and IMYC respectively), the Higher Years will be in two distinct stages: IGCSEs for Y10-11 and predominantly A levels for Y12-13. Originally we decided to call Y12-13 Diploma Years but because in many school systems ‘High’ equates with the last years of pre-university schooling, we realised that Higher Years and Diploma Years would be easily muddled. We therefore decided to call all our Y10 upwards Higher Winter
Years – although we will still be awarding our own diploma for school leavers. The reason is thus: We treat each student individually and, with our transient and large EAL population, A-levels will not suit everyone. Depending on the combination of A-levels studied, students may be eligible for the award of the Cambridge AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) diploma, though we will encourage students to select their A-levels based on their passions and future career plans. A-levels in Maths, Biology and Chemistry, for instance, would be more useful for an aspiring physician than the broader balance of subjects demanded for an AICE. In conjunction with parents and students, we will ensure each student has a package of IGCSEs, AS and/or A-levels that suits them which, along with their William Pike and/or Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards, will be recorded on an ISK diploma. A school diploma is a celebration of learning that will be of use especially for students from countries that make use of diplomas. What is more, school diplomas will serve as a focal piece for the celebration of students’ learning, as well as for our school in finally truly serving our community. Daniel Slevin is Assistant Principal at the International School of Koje, Korea Email: email@example.com
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Sage on the Screen Education, Media, and How We Learn By Bill Ferster Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press (2016) Reviewed by Tim Metcalfe Early in his preface to this book Bill Ferster, research professor at University of Virginia Curry School of Education, outlines its purpose: ‘to explore how various media forms were created, how interrelated these forms were, and what impact they had in education’ (p.x). Each of these three goals he accomplishes admirably. Ferster covers a wide history with extensive research, which he communicates with ease and clarity. This is not a book for those looking to delve into the minutiae of arguments regarding the effectiveness of particular technologies within a classroom. Although Ferster does an excellent job of outlining the debates about media usage in the classroom through the lens of the technologies he investigates, he does not propose new theories or engage in highly detailed analyses of the educational effectiveness of different technologies. Nor is his focus on media studies as a distinct classroom subject. What he is interested in is how particular technologies came to be, and how they have been used more generally within teaching and learning. Given the scope of the subject, Sage on the Screen is a relatively short six chapters, running to 197 pages including a comprehensive index. The first five chapters move chronologically through the development of different media technologies, starting with the invention of the moving image and ‘Traditional Media’ (eg film, radio and television), working through ‘Interactive Media’ (eg video disc), ‘Hypermedia’ (eg Apple’s HyperCard and CD-ROM), ‘Cloud Media’ (eg Khan Academy and MOOCs), and concluding with an account of virtual and augmented reality in ‘Immersive Media’ (eg Second Life). The final chapter, ‘Making Sense of Media for Learning’, outlines some of the concerns and considerations educators have had with the adoption of new technologies. Ferster’s approach within each of the chapters is to narrate the invention of a technology with a specific focus on the inventors, and then discuss the educational impact of these inventions. These stories are engaging and informative, and offer up noteworthy historical anecdotes. For example in Chapter 1, as he explains the origins of the moving image, Ferster describes how Eadweard Muybridge (inventor of motion capture photography) was at first unable to complete his famous experiment with the horse of Leland Stanford (governor of California, railroad tycoon and university founder) because he was arrested for the murder of his wife’s Winter
lover in a California saloon. (He was later acquitted on the grounds of ‘justifiable homicide’ (p.9)). Ferster’s description of the players is also at times delightfully expressive: Muybridge ‘looked like a wizard from Middle Earth … he was a conjurer in the newly emerging craft of photography, which magically depicted reality through black boxes, vats and mysterious potions’ (p.7) Later he interviews the inventor of hypertext technology Theodor Nelson, who ‘[b]y all accounts and especially his own, … is not a modest man’ (p.81). Two primary themes emerge from the work. Firstly, by moving chronologically through the course of the technological development, Ferster charts the direction of travel from a one-to-many model of media production/ consumption, exemplified in the ‘Traditional Media’ of radio, film and television, to the highly individualised offerings of ‘Immersive Media’. What Ferster is doing is effectively mapping the growth of learner agency through an investigation of technology. He takes his history right up to the date of publication, describing cutting edge developments within the virtual and augmented reality sectors using examples of DAQRI, Microsoft’s Hololens technology and Facebook’s purchase of virtual reality hardware company OculusVR. Without speculating on specifics, his chronological approach anticipates the considerable future disruption which will occur in the traditional classroom given the trends of greater learner agency. The technology ‘changes the basic relationship between teacher and student … [the] [i]nstructors’ primary role is no longer lecturing about a topic, and imparting content knowledge is relegated to the media – be it a film, video or filmstrip.’ (p.160), which begs the question – in what ways will the traditional model of classroom teaching and the role of the teacher change in this future? Ferster’s second major theme is economic. From its origins the mass media promised a seductive opportunity: ‘[i]nstead of re-creating the same lesson each time it is needed, it is created only once at a fixed cost, and it is replayed many times at a low marginal cost per student’ (p.41). Through examples ranging from a 1960s experiment in American Samoa which broadcast lessons made up of ‘about 30 percent of their total school time’ (p.35) to Sesame Street and educational video discs, Ferster shows how this hope has proved time and again to be misplaced. This ‘one-size fits all
Book review strategy does not take into account the individual differences that exist among learners’ (p.171). He notes that ‘over the past 50 years, hundreds of academic studies have looked at the effectiveness of using instructional film radio and television in the classroom. Comparing students who used media with those who did not, the vast majority of experiments showed only modest gains, or the dreaded finding of no significant difference, typical in these types of comparison studies’ (ibid). And yet, Ferster observes, this does not stop investors continuing to attempt to ‘disrupt’ the educational sector. He explains the reasoning clearly. It is potentially exceptionally lucrative. Quoting Kevin Carey, Ferster notes the value of different sectors to venture capitalists: media and entertainment, a field saturated with digital innovation, was worth ‘$1.6 trillion dollars’ (p.168), whereas education ‘which stood alone as an entirely non-digital business’ was ‘worth $4.6 trillion dollars’ (ibid). With this economic focus Ferster strikes a note of caution for educationalists who may be tempted by new media technologies that the inventor’s motivation may not be on effectiveness or access for learners, but on cutting a slice of an incredibly large pie. With a book of this length it is inevitable that coverage will need to be limited, and Ferster’s focus is clearly on the American technological and educational landscape. Although John Logie Baird and Guglielmo Marconi receive some coverage, they are granted less attention in comparison to the contributions of Philo Farnsworth and Vannevar Bush. European readers may also be a little puzzled by Tim BernersLee’s contribution to interactive media being reduced to
a literal footnote of an interview with Theodor Nelson (inventor of the hypertext) who laments that the worldwide web has ‘one tenth of the potential of what I could do. It is a parody. I like and respect Tim Berners-Lee [but] he fulfilled his objective. He didn’t fulfil mine’ (p.83). The American focus probably accounts for the omission of the work of the Open University in the 1970s, and BBC experiments with computer science technology in the 1980s, but it would have been interesting to see some investigation of the impact of the BBC Microcomputer in classrooms. Also, Ferster begins with the development of the moving image – noticeably omitting still photography which, given its longevity and importance within education, seems strange. For the media studies teacher this book offers a highly readable account of the history of mass media technologies with a focus on the impact on education. For the educational researcher it is a good primer for the debates which surround the effectiveness of mass media technologies within education and the classroom, through an historical lens. The book offers an American-centric historical account of the development of these technologies, and in so doing points to a future in which educators and administrators of educational institutions potentially face considerable disruption. Tim Metcalfe taught media and film at state schools in the UK, and is now lead teacher of English Literature at the International School of Trieste, Italy. Email: T.C.Metcalfe@bath.ac.uk
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Teaching and Learning for Intercultural Understanding Engaging Young Hearts and Minds By Debra Rader Abingdon: Routledge (2018) Reviewed by Gustavo M Lanata In producing this title, Debra Rader has given educators a book well worth taking the time to read. She has an impressive CV in a number of areas in the field of education, which includes over 30 years of working in primary schools. Today she works as an international education consultant, as well as developing programmes with a focus on intercultural understanding. This experience notwithstanding, her book is presented to the reader through the clear mind-set of a primary school teacher. This is evident in the first line of the Acknowledgements where she states that ‘The writing of this book has truly been an emotional, spiritual and intellectual journey’. Her approach towards the craft, science and art of teaching is full of such references, and it is my guess that this aspect of Debra Rader’s writing will shine through to anyone who has spent time as a professional educator. The book is a manual designed to help those walking into a classroom filled with non-native and non-local learners to create an environment that is full of opportunity for everyone to learn. Despite being written with a primary school focus, the book is also of value for those working in secondary and tertiary education and, I would argue, essential reading for all in the field of education. The first thirty-seven pages of the book are dedicated to expressing the importance of including every child in a class
and making them feel welcomed in the learning environment. The book provides simple-to-follow suggestions that will help each reader to accomplish this task. Compelling Pedagogy for Our Times, as the first part is titled, is divided into three chapters and deals specifically with the importance of intercultural understanding. Chapter one (What is intercultural understanding?) asks a difficult question, but Debra Rader answers it by telling us that it is the ability to see beyond the context of our life. We need to see how others think and see life around them. We must be open-minded and be caring and kind to all, so that those around us feel equal and empowered. Although, as she reminds us, intercultural understanding – also referred to as intercultural competence – has no current agreed-upon definition, she provides the reader with a framework that may be used in any classroom. Chapter two (Why is teaching and learning for intercultural understanding imperative?) takes the reader to the next important step in understanding our role as teachers in today’s classroom. Debra Rader explains that as we see our world becoming ‘smaller’ we are faced ever more frequently with the reality of people being placed in situations that require quick responses to new environments. Areas and regions of the world are in a state of almost constant demographic change, which demands that educators understand as
Debra Rader explains that as we see our world becoming ‘smaller’ we are faced ever more frequently with the reality of people being placed in situations that require quick responses to new environments. Winter
Book review much as possible the varied experiences, languages and cultures that today’s learners bring to their classrooms. Debra Rader reminds us that intercultural understanding does not happen naturally and for that reason we must learn to teach it effectively. Chapter three (Starting with ourselves: reflection and selfknowledge) challenges all teachers to look at themselves. This is very important in encouraging each of us as individuals to reflect on our own route to becoming a teacher. It allows us to become more aware of what we know and what we do not know. It helps us to recognise our own prejudices. It is a reminder of what we experienced to become who we are, imperative in helping us to remember that children should be honoured for all they bring to the classroom. Part two of the book (Teaching and Learning for Intercultural Understanding) is divided into six chapters, 4 through 9, which I separate here into two sections. Chapters four through seven form the first half of the second part of the book, providing educators with a plethora of lesson plans that are designed to explore and discover language, culture, and individual identity. The lessons are designed not only to be instructional tools for a teacher to present in class, but also to bring all learners together in a meaningful and engaging way. In Chapters eight and nine the author expands her lessons to incorporate topics and issues that go beyond the classroom. She considers the importance of developing skills for life, in highlighting that what learners take from the classroom will be useful well past their schoolboy/girl days.
Part three of the book ends with ideas on how to bring all this learning together so that the classroom can be a place for all to learn. This section is the shortest, which should not be seen as a negative but rather as a positive as the words in the first two parts of the book have been so clear to follow that not much else needs to be said. The appendices are very helpful and add to the overall usefulness of this well-written and easy-to-use manual. Despite this book’s fine preparation, it should not be assumed that all will always go smoothly as expressed in this book. My guess is that Debra Rader did not become a skilled professional overnight, since all good work comes with hours of practice and much refining. My closing point, though, reiterates the point made at the beginning of this review: this book contains information that educators of all levels, primary, secondary and tertiary will find relevant and interesting. It should be kept close by to refer to frequently. Gustavo Lanata has had a number of roles in international education including school director. He is currently based in Genoa, Italy. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Learning Rainforest Great Teaching in Real Classrooms by Tom Sherrington John Catt Educational (2017) Reviewed by Wayne Richardson There are many metaphors to describe learning, teaching and schools, such as: it’s like building a house, arranging an orchestra with all its possibilities, or it’s an expedition into the unknown. In describing the difficult concept of learning and schooling, the author Tom Sherrington has chosen the rainforest metaphor, with learning trees: roots for establishing the conditions, a trunk for building knowledge, and a canopy for exploring possibilities – leading us to consider what this would look like as a rich dense learning rainforest, with the necessary conditions for them to survive (or not) and the possibilities for new species. The rainforest metaphor is contrasted with what learning and school organisations would look like if run as a fully organised plantation, with specific arrangements and checks in place to ensure maximum control over the results. Tom Sherrington is well known in the UK as a blogger (teacherhead.com), a former headteacher and now an education consultant. He has over 30 years’ experience as a physics and maths teacher and school leader, including working in private and state schools as well as an international school. Drawing on his wealth of experience and observations, he has crafted a detailed account of his journey as a learner, teacher and author to formulate this book. Whilst the book is essentially UK-based, it has so much to offer any international school setting. For a teacher, the book is packed full of practical ideas about classroom teaching and the associated richness that goes with learning. The book is divided into two parts. Firstly, the author details his own teaching experiences and a selection of research thinking that has contributed to the learning rainforest concept. This is particularly relevant to school leaders. In the second part, he describes in more detail the learning tree metaphor with many practical ideas and strategies that teachers can explore to establish their own rainforest classrooms, from establishing conditions and building knowledge to exploring possibilities. Many ideas and debates about teaching, curriculum and assessment are brought out into the open. Sherrington draws on the work of Christodoulou, Claxton and Hattie. In particular, he draws our attention to Dylan Wiliam’s reference to ‘responsive teaching
and feedback’ for considering alternative approaches to assessment in order to drive a more effective learning rainforest. His educational research compilations lead to some very important conclusions for teaching, namely ‘the role of relationships, peer dynamics, mindsets, expectations of students and classroom climate’ that are essential elements for establishing the necessary rich, nourishing conditions for growth in student learning. The book is a celebration of great teaching, including a chapter devoted to the traditional vs progressive pedagogy debate. The topics of inclusion for special needs and second language learners are discussed, along with day-to-day differentiation (gardening) so that all students are nurtured and flourish to their greatest extent. Each of the elements – roots, trunk and canopy – captures the three sets of tasks that constitute great teaching with topics such as awe and wonder, fostering relationships, questioning, feedback, projects and hands-on learning, to name but a few of the 60 different ideas shared in the book. The Learning Rainforest is an attempt by the author ‘to capture various different elements of our understanding and experience of teaching’ through pedagogy, curriculum and assessment, and their interconnected components. The rainforest vs plantation metaphor leads us to consider where we are on the continuum between them, in a managed learning forest. This is a book worth reading for any teacher or school manager, providing valuable considerations for your own rainforest classroom and school. Wayne Richardson is Head of School at Ras Al Khaimah Academy PYP, United Arab Emirates Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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What global educators need to know about teacher wellbeing Mitesh Patel explores how international schools can best support expat teachers’ mental and physical health Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been to five countries in five years, there is plenty to be excited about when you secure a new leadership or teaching position in a different country. Meeting people, adjusting to a new culture, seeing sights that would be unimaginable in the country you have just left – the first days and weeks of a fresh assignment often go past in a blur. In the flurry of activity that inevitably occurs, it can be easy for new starters to get caught up in the adventure of living abroad, and not fully consider the practicalities of living somewhere completely different. Left unchecked, this can lead to issues with settling in, as well as stress, anxiety and even burnout. In the most extreme cases, it can also lead to the premature ending of the assignment. Winter
More and more, international schools are turning their attention to how they can better support teachers’ mental and physical wellbeing. Ultimately, this is an insightful move as anything that negatively impacts teachers can also influence student wellbeing and progress, and affect the whole school climate as well. The good news is that making appropriate support and resources available to teachers can often address these issues in advance – and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. A successful relocation Sometimes a successful relocation can be facilitated by the simple things. When it comes to health, making sure new staff know what screenings and medical exams they need
Physical Peak No-one likes getting sick, but it can be much worse if you feel alone in a strange country and have to deal with the intricacies of a health care system in a different language. If you don’t know where to turn and you are feeling poorly from something like food poisoning, it can be a very frightening time. So think how it would feel if events took a more serious turn. For example, imagine moving to Baku in Azerbaijan and finding yourself severely short of breath, only to then discover that the cause is a blood clot on your lung but the local hospital can’t do anything about it. In a life-threatening situation, it’s vital that action is taken quickly. This is why it’s so important for new members of staff to fully familiarise themselves with the health care system in their new homeland, and for schools to be crystal clear about the details of any health coverage they provide. In the instance above, knowing that you can stay in Baku with a private nurse and be supported by friends, rather than being transported to an unknown location for treatment, would bring some very welcome reassurance at a traumatic time.
In the future For international schools who want to take a proactive approach to looking after their staff’s physical and mental health, it can pay to get creative. You can always ask outside speakers to host a ‘lunch and learn’ and health care insurers can often put you in contact with regional experts who will come in to talk to staff about key topics. In the future, health care might become even more mobile, with apps that let users have a video or a phone consultation with a doctor, without having to travel. This could be a reality sooner than you think as trials are already underway in Singapore. It’s the kind of innovation that would be of real value for teachers for whom it can be extremely difficult to nip out during a lunch break to visit a general practitioner. A face-toface appointment, even if it’s from a distance, adds a much more personal and reassuring touch. And when you are far from home, that can make all the difference. Mitesh Patel is the medical director at Aetna International. For more information, please visit www.aetnainternational.com
when arriving in a country with very different risks is key. Having a mechanism in place to automatically organise it for them too, if possible, means there is one less thing for everyone to think about. As an example, if your school is based in Vietnam, you’ll know that all foreign staff have to go through wellness tests and vaccinations before getting their visa. However, try not to assume that your new employee will also know that – they might not. Another really simple way to help people cope with the culture shock (and let’s face it, there often is an element of culture shock, even when people have visited the country previously or have studied the language) is making sure they are equipped with destination guides. It might sound obvious, but it’s an invaluable way of setting the scene before someone arrives. And if those guides are personalised to expats, including real details of other teachers’ lived experiences, so much the better. After all, don’t forget that moving to a new house in your hometown is stressful enough. When you’re a teacher heading to a country you don’t know, and potentially a junior teacher who is on their own, it can be positively nervewracking.
Mind over matter When you’re a long way from home, feeling cut off from the people you love, it’s easy to see how mental health can be affected. Expats can be particularly prone to low-level depression and anxiety because their support network is often absent in their new place of home. International schools have an opportunity to step in early and intervene, as long as they are attuned to the situation. Again the solution doesn’t always have to be complicated. For example, at a school in China, I was involved in setting up a helpline for expat teachers who were feeling increasingly isolated and tense. By being able to directly get through to expert support, these feelings were nipped in the bud and the teachers began to relax, flourish and enjoy their time. Schools can also play a key role in encouraging new recruits to find replacement social networks to the ones they have left behind. In some countries, this may be via social media; in others, such as the Chinese example above, social media may not be appropriate. Whichever avenue is available, it is always comforting to be able to communicate in your native tongue at times and these opportunities can be highlighted to staff. Of course, that’s not to suggest that expats shouldn’t learn their new language or be involved in local customs – these are also great ways to foster feelings of being more at home.
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N EE GR
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SucceSSful Difficult converSationS in ScHool
LEADING TITLES FROM JOHN CATT EDUCATIONAL
nal limited ness Centre ach, e,
S O N I A
G I L L
FOReWORD By ANDy BUCk
Successful Difficult Conversations in School By Sonia Gill £14
What Does This Look Like in the Classroom?
Bridging the gap between research and practice By Carl Hendrick and Robin Macpherson
The Learning Rainforest
Great teaching in real classrooms By Tom Sherrington
The Curriculum Galliamaufry to coherence By Mary Myatt £15
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