International Mindedness

International mindedness, in its simplest explanation, is the ability to be anywhere in time and in any space. According to the International Baccalaureate Organisation, international mindedness is “an awareness of the inter-relatedness of all nations and peoples, and a recognition of the complexity of these relationships.” Having travelled extensively over the last number of years, and most recently over the Thanksgiving break, I reflected on what it takes to successfully parachute into a new environment and forge connections. I have landed on an open mind and an open heart. But how does one develop this openness? It’s complex...

What does it take to be open? It means being vulnerable, empathetic, respectful, compassionate, educated, informed, curious, reflective and responsible. It requires an individual to be an effective listener, communicator, risk taker and learner. That is a hefty ask of an adult, never mind a child.

Why must we, as educators, role models and citizens of the world, be internationally minded?

The state of the world is as such that we must take responsibility for our collective actions, environmentally, politically and economically. We must be the change that we seek, and to do that, we must be able to relate to others, understand their needs and perspective and work collaboratively.

So then, how do we intentionally infuse these values and skills into curriculum and support their development in students?

We start by developing community and creating safe environments through thoughtful activities and structured expectations. In these spaces, students begin to forge relationships with peers and adults alike that allow them to grow their curiosity. Knowing that they are safe, they then can take risks, learn from mistakes and reflect on actions that guide next steps. We introduce tensions and problems, then support students as they work through them. We ensure that students are aware of their surroundings and beyond, so that as they build knowledge, they also develop cultural competencies and compassion for those around them. We provide them with opportunities to make a difference and we listen to them and support their passions and interests. We also create situations where students sit with discomfort and learn that this is normal and builds resilience.

As students live these experiences, they learn the importance of relating, of being open, so that when they do find themselves in a different context, they know, inherently, that relationships are the most important thing that they can forge in order to “be.” Ultimately, we hope that they are equipped to confidently let their values guide their actions.

We acknowledge differences and respect them, whilst also recognizing the incredible number of similarities, shared stories and parallel experiences that shape humankind, whether we are at TCS or we are half a world away.

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