ISC Research’s 2021 report, The international school student profile, was released this month, and explored some of the changes to the sector, and how they have impacted “today’s international students”.
The research found that 100% of respondents to the survey thought multilingualism, intercultural understanding and global engagement was not knowingly measured at the schools.
The three dimensions are included in the International Baccalaureate’s definition of international mindedness – researchers suggest that international mindedness is key in international education.
“This report aimed to identify options that are accessible for schools to effectively evaluate the development of international mindedness, which is an aim of all International Baccalaureate programs and other international curricula,” said ISC Research director Sam Fraser.
“Schools need to provide clarity on the education provision that they offer”
“[It] suggests that schools need to provide clarity on the education provision that they offer and, if they are promising an international education, that they have a solution to assess international mindedness.”
Despite many schools adopting the IB’s definition, the report states that there is no one common definition of international mindedness while it explores the definition.
Many schools often use the term loosely or interchangeably with such terms as “global mindedness and cultural intelligence”, it said.
The responses to the question for respondents on what it meant varied greatly in the report, as well as their school’s practice of it and hopes to improve it.
Responses varied; one IB Diploma alum defined it as “being aware of other countries and cultures in the world, acting in the best interests of not only my country, but the world”.
A teacher of various IB curricula and the US curriculum instead described it as “building intercultural awareness through interactions and conversations with diverse populations”.
While the methodology differed between responses, the main strand of “intercultural awareness” was present through most answers.
The report, however, concluded that international schools are able to provide the opportunity to “bring diverse cultures together”, stressing that a common definition of international mindedness, that “fully addresses diversity, equity, inclusion and justice”, would be an asset to the sector.
It also called for appropriate solutions to “measure the development” of international mindedness in students aged three to 18 classroom context.
This suggests a “need to develop assessment tools specifically for the international school sector”, the report said.
“The entire school community, including students and parents, needs to have clear understanding of what the school will deliver and what its international dimension means for its students and staff,” stressed Fraser.
“The report highlights some of the tools currently accessible to measure international mindedness – however, the majority of these tools were developed and validated based upon undergraduate international students,” Fraser added, heightening the need for assessment tools for K-12 students.
When it came to the students themselves, over the last few years there has been an emergence of youth-led organisations that seek “educational change”, such as the Organisation to Decolonise International Schools – formed by students.
“There are a lot of schools that say they’re international… then you look at the leadership team, you look at the teachers and what they’re teaching – it doesn’t really read as international, nor reflect the diversity of the student body,” said Anna Clara Reynolds, co-founder of ODIS.
The co-founder of Reset Revolution, another organisation created by international students, said activism is “crucial to induce impactful change”.
“Educators have to be the ones to make sure the curriculum, structure, and peace-conflict management strategies change”
“Educators have to be the ones to make sure the curriculum, structure, and peace-conflict management strategies change, and that uncomfortable topics are talked about,” Kotoha Kudo.
In terms of developing international mindedness in schools, News Decoder founder and president Nelson Graves said schools need to “hire more teachers from the local community” of the destination schools, and use opportunities to “shape the curriculum so that it aligns more closely with the host country’s requirements”.
Graves also acknowledged, in closing, that they need to better be able to assess the impact of international mindedness.
“We have not yet perfected a system for measuring the impact [of international mindedness],” Graves said.
“I suspect this is a challenge for many schools as they look to increase the international mindedness of students and teachers.”
Despite the pandemic, the report also confirmed that over the last five years (2016-21) British orientated international schools experience a 54% increase in growth, with an estimated 69% in growth and international orientated schools. The US was lower, with a 17% increase.