International Mindedness

“A school’s effectiveness requires the development of international-mindedness”

When information on all topics explored by humanity to date is contained in the cloud, and in the palms of our students, we must ask ourselves about the role of schools and teachers, their relevance and effectiveness. Anyone who believes that schools and teachers will survive in the next decade by simply repeating the formulas that proved useful 20 years ago will have to re-evaluate their position. It is not enough to organize multinational fairs replete with flags and traditional dishes, or to promote the learning of multiple languages, nor is it enough to appreciate different styles of music and dress. To some extent, all of that merely exists on the periphery of the true development of international-mindedness, which has much more to do with the ability to listen to learn, to talk and to recognise common humanity, including in what is different.

Here are five key aspects that we believe are indispensable for developing international-mindedness which our teachers explore inside and outside the class.

  • Know yourself
  • Develop empathy
  • Be a champion of intellectual humility
  • Learn languages
  • Do not fear conflict, and learn to negotiate

School is not the only place where we can acquire these skills, but it is the perfect opportunity to learn in a controlled and safe environment. Nowadays, personal and professional success necessarily entail these skills, and only those who demonstrate an ability to master some or all of them will stand out as competent citizens who are up to the challenges of the 21st century.

Carolyn Savage, an independent educational consultant in the UK, says, "Put simply, international mindedness means understanding, respecting and valuing different cultures, embracing diversity and knowing that different perspectives have a great deal to offer."

That's a good working definition.

For schools, international mindedness forms a values-based framework in which to teach concepts like collaboration, compassion and empathy, from a practical point of view, leading corporations are searching for prospective leaders with a keen sense of global awareness -- that have deep-and-broad perspective on economics, the environment, human rights and political structures. It is the internationally minded student of today who will lead the world of tomorrow.

International Mindedness for Students

For our students at BODHI, international mindedness means adopting a certain value system of kindness, tolerance and acceptance of multiple viewpoints. Our students have the opportunity to interact with other children from different regions of our nation who have grown up immersed in a range of cultures, traditions and opinions. Being in a multicultural environment is not unusual for our students, and they quickly become empathetic to others’ views and opinions.

That's important because globally competent leaders in the 21st century possess a distinct array of values, attitudes, behaviours and concepts. They realise how their own culture shapes their understanding of others, for instance, and they can engage in constructive dialogue with people from a variety of perspectives. They learn to make adaptations to their thoughts where appropriate and are able to help support and understand their peers. Our students gain a deep sense of respect for each other and have a passion for learning about other people’s backgrounds.

Further, an attitude of openness to new ways of thinking help students frame questions, analyse data and apply new understanding to complex puzzles. By valuing international mindedness, our teachers equip students with multi-faceted skills for personal and professional success. They facilitate opportunities for students to experience what life after school may look like while at the same time, providing support to their students. From the first day of education at Bodhi, teachers help to integrate their classes and teach their children that cultural differences should be celebrated.

International Mindedness for Teachers, Staff and School

Teachers face the same shrinking, flattening world that students do. As urbanisation, climate change and demographic restructuring present new challenges, teachers expose their learners to a broader array of ideas. To do it, they devise innovative teaching strategies rooted in historic understandings of how children learn.

At Bodhi, we provide students with direct classroom education in subjects like global perspectives. This course exposes our children to international topics and lets them collaborate, reflect and communicate to solve problems. We discuss current world news and how these stories may affect us. Students are able to discuss first-hand experiences and ask questions between themselves. They are able to gain a better understanding of the world around them from the perspectives of their peers who may have lived quite different lives to theirs.

We keep diversity in mind when teaching other subjects as well. We always assess how the topics within each subject could affect different student groups and make adaptations when needed. We ensure that students feel that the subjects that they are studying relate to the world that they live in today. Of course, not all learning happens in the classroom. Our students also enjoy celebrating major festivals and traditions from around the world. We encourage them to take ownership of these events and to teach others about their traditions.

Moreover, we make it a point to build a community of teachers with international exposure. Our teachers come from different parts of the nation, have worked in schools in countries other than their own and have been exposed to several different cultures, languages and communities. The perspectives that they bring with them are not something that learners get at every institution.

International Mindedness for Parents

International mindedness doesn't stop at the exit door of the school. Our Bodhian parents commit to transmitting similar values at home. Parents take their children to multicultural events which cultivate international friendships. And still, many make movies, holidays and entertainment into opportunities to practice purposeful multiculturalism. This is important as it helps children to understand that multiculturalism is all around us. For some students spending time with family members and friends from around the world is the norm, but this is not the case for everyone. This is why we encourage parents to get involved with a range of multicultural opportunities with their children. Why not have a diverse group of friends over to celebrate the holidays with your family and enjoy an international potluck together?

However, our Bodhian parents choose to celebrate diversity, know that we at Bodhi are with them in spirit, believing every child should be internationally minded and striving daily to inculcate this value into every aspect of Bodhi International School.

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