Важен ли уровень национального разнообразия студентов при выборе международной школы?

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RL Street Eater This is a story provided by a Real Life Phuket partner. It has been edited for clarity. For inquiries send an email to sale@reallifephuket.com

Национальное разнообразие ученического состава принципиально важно для получения по-настоящему международного опыта как для учащихся, так и для персонала школы.

Лейгха Франсис (выпускница UWCT 2020 года)

Это факт — не все международные школы одинаковы. На нашей планете можно найти самые разные международные школы, отличающиеся и размерами, и учебными программами, и подходами к обучению школьников. 

 

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Международные школы появились на фоне того, что мир становился более глобализированным, а у работающих за рубежом сотрудников международных компаниях, служащих ООН и Евросоюза возникла необходимость, чтобы их дети получали образование в системах, схожих с действующими в их собственных странах. Идея заключалась в том, чтобы обеспечить семьям – и детям в особенности – определенную форму стабильности на основании того, что принципы обучения и образовательная программа будет относительно одинаковой независимо от того, куда переедет семья, а из самого процесса переезда в новый «дом» будет устранена еще одна сложность.

Эти школы возникали в ответ на запрос рынка, предлагая национальные образовательные программы в международном окружении. Чаще всего речь шла о программах британских или американских. Примером может служить Американская школа в эмирате Дубай. Со временем появились и другие «идеологически нацеленные варианты», которые работают над реализацией глобальной миссии, совпадающей с идеалом международной школы. Такие школы развивали и продвигали идею национального и культурного разнообразия, практикуя глобальный подход, не привязанный ни к какой конкретной культуре или образовательной системе. Чтобы лучше подготовить детей к жизни и работе в глобализирующемся мире, международный школы всегда старались прививать учащимся идею понимая и уважения разных культур, знания о глобальных вопросах и международное мировоззрение. Многие из этих школ также ввели в учебный план программы международного бакалавриата, поскольку его идея совпадает с миссией самих международных школ.

 

 

На фоне сказанного выше, повторюсь. Не все международные школы одинаковы. В некоторых из них международность лишь значится в названии или описании образовательной концепции, чтобы привлечь родителей образом чего-то экзотического и высокими шансами на поступление в университет, тогда как сама идея международного образования реализована лишь поверхностно. Многие международные школы лишь провозглашают свою международность, но на самом деле не стремятся обеспечить культурно-национальное разнообразие среди педагогов, учеников и предметов программы. Многообразие в таких школах если и появляется, то само по себе, а не по задумке создателей.

...Не все международные школы одинаковы. В некоторых из них международность лишь значится в названии, чтобы привлечь родителей образом чего-то экзотического и высокими шансами на поступление в университет, тогда как сама идея международного образования реализована лишь поверхностно.

Upon speaking with a graduate of an American international IB school in Jamaica, she explained that the concept of diversity did not seem to be weaved into the fabric of the curriculum, and did not feel the international experience, despite being an "international school student". She felt her school lacked opportunities for the students to showcase their cultures and capabilities as a community; mainly focusing on Jamaican and American celebrations and topical issues as opposed to learning about and accommodating other cultures and nationalities.  

Suppose you contrast this with Kajonkiet International School Phuket (KISP) — also an IB school — in Thailand. In their case, though they could also be considered diverse by default, students there feel diversity weaves its way into classroom discussions, and school celebrations acknowledge diversity simply because of the multitude of nationalities. 

That said, always research where the international school you are investigating falls on the pragmatic/ideological spectrum to guarantee that it seeks to prepare young people for adult life as responsible and capable international citizens in a globalised world. Consider the school's governance structure, the international focus of the curriculum and whether it is internationally recognised. Often international schools are accredited by the host country's Ministry of Education.

So, what is in a name?

Imagine this: A teenage girl walks into a boarding school fair. She is in her fourth year of high school and is looking to take the next step towards her future. As she stops at various stalls, she introduces herself and her interests and takes a look at the school's brochure. Her teacher, who has been supervising the students, notices that she has only one brochure after stopping at almost 20 booths, and leaves quite abruptly. "Why?" the teacher asks. "If there is not more than one coloured person — coloured, meaning anything but white American — then I do not want to go there. I am not going to college to be the token black girl they put on brochures to show "diversity" when, in reality, I am treated like the class pet! That is not diversity ma'am." 

But what is?

According to the Cambridge English dictionary, diversity is "the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something".

 

 

Most international schools promote and embody diversity in its most real sense; celebrating differences in culture, ethnicity, race, language, socio-economic status, religion and more, as well as engendering acceptance and respect. This is what sets ideology-driven schools above and apart, as places where students experience and understand that each individual is unique. These schools allow the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. International schools like these help students to move beyond simple tolerance to embrace and celebrate the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

Students of ideologically based international schools learn the fundamental lesson that everyone should be treated with respect and that the acceptance of diversity should be promoted in daily life.

This is because diversity is acknowledged in the classroom and in all extra-curricular settings. Students of ideologically based international schools learn the fundamental lesson that everyone should be treated with respect and that the acceptance of diversity should be promoted in daily life. Diversity is an essential factor which helps to eliminate the lack of cohesion between races, sexes, and cultures; caused by mistrust, stereotyping, and language barriers. Bullying is also eliminated, because, with diversity, differences are taught to be celebrated, not mocked.

Students, therefore, emerge as protectors of diversity in their life journeys, promoting care for one another and freedom from prejudice, equity, synergy and mutual respect. As the world becomes increasingly more diverse and multicultural, equipping young people to be inclusive and culturally understanding is key. Diversity drives creativity and innovation, and the following quotes reflect how different people define it – as each person sees the world from a different perspective.

 

 

Lorenzo Davidson was born and raised in Italy until he was ten years old, then moved to Wisconsin, then just outside of Philadelphia, and now lives in Vancouver, Canada. Two years ago, he moved to Phuket to complete the IBDP at UWC Thailand and defines diversity as "valuing everyone's opinions, beliefs and ideas and accepting all cultures, religions and groups. I think it is crucial to be open to others, and instead of shutting them down because of their differences, we should build upon those differences and work together. Because the world is complex and the problems we face are intricate, we need all cultures, however small and seemingly insignificant, to share their perspectives and work together to solve them".

 

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Thimali, a Sri Lankan, who has lived and studied at international schools in the UAE and Thailand, and will begin University at Yale-NUS in Singapore next month describes diversity as "a constant state of motion, this perpetual 'tug of war' of sorts in your head — intentionally letting your ideals, aspirations and life choices be shaped by the experiences of those around you, as well as by your ever-growing inner reflections. It is perpetual because experiences are infinite, and I think true diversity will allow any one person to understand and analyse infinite human experiences".

As seen from these students' perspectives, the diversity promoted by ideologically driven international schools allows each student to embrace and appreciate their own culture and country, and also to understand other perspectives, as well as the larger goal of world peace.

Diversity is an excellent way for students to explore their inner curiosities. It not only allows them to live outside their comfort zones but also enhances their learning. Through diversity, students experience the lack of privilege that comes with being a minority. This destabilising experience then creates an authentic opportunity for reflection. For example, racism is an issue that has been ingrained in our society for centuries, due to post-colonialist mindsets and white privilege, protests have arisen all over the world to fight for justice, educate the public and state that all lives don't matter unless black lives do. 

Studies show that students work better in a diverse environment, enabling them to concentrate and push themselves further when there are people of other backgrounds working alongside them. An international school offers a chance to be able to become more independent, for youth to think for themselves, and if their parents taught them to hate a specific ethnic group or condemn a specific sexual orientation, to question" why?", and to be able to deconstruct the narrative themselves.  

Diversity promotes creativity, as well as better education. Those with differing viewpoints can collaborate to create solutions. Promoting diversity in staffing also enables students from different backgrounds to identify with teachers who are also like them, thereby enhancing their trust in a learning environment.

I think diversity is also more than just skin colour but also background, socio-economic status and thought — it allows for a wide range of conversations.

Sanaa Wong, from the island of Jamaica, attended high school there before attending United World College Changshu China. She believes diversity "means a lot, especially to any minority group. For example, it's the fact that I can now turn on a TV show and see a black girl; someone who looks like me, as up to five years ago even, that was not so. I think diversity is also more than just skin colour but also background, socio-economic status and thought — it allows for a wide range of conversations. Going to a school with the maximum amount of diversity possible, you get to see world issues and political issues from many different perspectives. You can have conversations that go beyond just what you know or think you know".

 

 

Students then become more tolerant and understanding of differences and other perspectives, and appreciate the same differences that varied languages and cultures bring. This also allows students to understand their level of privilege in general and in their own country. With the "new world" order emerging with the COVID-19 pandemic, and as xenophobia is addressed and as racism is highlighted and condemned worldwide, international school students are better equipped to encounter them in the adult world and create an inclusive community. 

As a graduate of United World College Thailand, which I consider an ideology-driven international school, I can confirm that diversity can be a reality because I experienced it. It allows students to internalise and understand the need for world peace, environmental responsibility, and sustainable development; and, to not be afraid to advocate for them. 

I experienced diversity, not just in the school population, but the very structure of the school's organisation, from the menu in the canteen, to the types of school projects, the holidays celebrated (Pride, Diwali etc.), the activities, the presentations and even the visitors. 

If all schools truly embraced and promoted diversity, we would be moving closer to peace, tolerance, and acceptance. Perhaps international schools should be the norm across educational systems and should be the way of the future, in order to ensure the future of our planet?

Societies continue to become more diverse due to increased cross-border mobility, less-rigid gender roles, improved living standards and more! Because of that, it is looking like ideology-driven international schools will continue to be in high demand, which goes to show that "diversity" — as well as "variety" — are the spice of life!

Sources: (Kurt Hahn - 1962), (Hayden & Thompson (UNESCO 2008), Terwilliger (972) Matthews (1989) Peterson (1987)