Let's Talk About Education

International Mindedness: an EARJ path

November 24, 2020 - By Doreen J. Garrigan - Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In my early years of teaching, I used to think international-mindedness happened as a result of the diversity present in the classroom. I viewed it more as differences in food, flags, festivals (traditions), language, entertainment, and recreation. In my 10 years abroad I’ve come to learn that these are examples of culture and these attributes of culture do not necessarily translate to developing international-mindedness.

I hate to admit that my understanding of what it meant to be internationally-minded was simple in nature and based on things that were more observable, and not in the deeper ways in which people’s beliefs and values are different and also the same. I’ve learned It’s more about an attitude and an openness to see the world and its events from multiple perspectives.

EARJ is classified as an American international school and yet how internationally-minded are we? In what ways does our community strive to exemplify what it means to be internationally-minded? I ask these questions not to negate a well-deserved 83 year history of excellence, but to engage us in conversation about the benefits of being internationally-minded and the challenges that come with it in an ever changing, chaotic world. As educators, we know we want to develop international-mindedness in our students, but this pursuit should actually involve the entire community of students, teachers, staff, and parents.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) defines International mindedness as possessing certain attributes and approaches to learning.  An internationally minded learner:

  • is a competent communicator (multilingual);

  • is open-minded and knowledgeable;

  • is a caring and principled thinker;

  • uses his or her curiosity and research skills to inquire about the world;

  • thinks and reflects critically about opportunities and challenges;

  • takes action for positive change;

  • takes risks to further self-development and understanding of others.

(Boix Mansilla and Jackson 2011; Oxfam 2015; Singh and Qi 2013; UNESCO 2015).

For students who participate in one or several of the IB programmes, they are exposed to these attributes and approaches multiple times during the course of their educational journey. They learn how to use appropriate skills to find answers to their questions. They develop ownership of their own learning and in their relationships with others so they have the opportunity to practice the attributes in real time.

When I think about how best for EARJ to infuse International mindedness into the ethos of the school, I like to think about what I would want an EARJ high school graduate to know about himself/herself as a learner and the difference he/she wants to make in the world. If we work backwards from “that graduate” then we should be able to support that vision and build into their learning journey, opportunities to develop the attributes of an internationally-minded person, starting all the way back in their preschool years.

The development of international-mindedness takes time, patience, and commitment to a larger vision. At EARJ, find your path inspires us to support our students so that their attributes and approaches to life exemplify an internationally-minded citizen of the world.

Doreen Garrigan
Gávea Lower School Principal

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