Innovative educators have two mindsets: What’s working now, and what their students’ needs will be in the future. And right now, many educators are thinking a lot about how to prepare children for a global future. To help parents think about it, too, we asked a number of local educators to discuss what they see as the key aspects of a global education. Here are the highlights.
Avenues: The World School
“At Avenues: The World School, our mission is to educate students who are ‘comfortable beyond their borders’—future global citizens who are able to enjoy lives as professionals, business leaders, scientists, artists, and educators around the world. Fundamental to this is fluency in a second language. Students at Avenues, from nursery to grade 4, spend 50 percent of their time in immersion classes in either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. Avenues is developing campuses in China and Brazil, and plans to grow to a network of as many as 20 campuses worldwide. The overseas campuses will provide unparalleled opportunities for Avenues students to experience schooling and life in other great cities of the world. Exposure to different cultures and peoples is also achieved through a growing overseas travel program. Four trips are planned for the coming academic year. The school’s own community is significantly international, with many international families and an extensive faculty of native speakers in Spanish and Mandarin. Even the hallway signage is in three languages. Avenues’ students develop competency in world geography, history, and culture through the unique ‘World Course,’ which teaches the traditional lessons of social studies in a global context from grades K–12. In the Upper School, the World Course curriculum expands to include electives in developmental economics, conflict resolution, and world religions, among others. Students at Avenues are encouraged to explore the world as fluent speakers and knowledgeable travelers. This is the journey that allows them to become ‘comfortable beyond their borders.’”
-Ty Tingley, Chief Academic Officer; for more on Avenues: The World School, visit avenuesnyc.org.
British International School of New York
“I think the key objective of a global education, which we focus on at the British International School of New York, is equipping our students with the knowledge, skills, confidence, and open mindedness to embrace change and opportunity. We are always looking for ways to enable the students to reflect on what they are learning, to consider issues from a range of perspectives, and to evaluate the merits and challenges of different possible approaches to a situation. The importance of this approach lies partly in the types of careers and lives so many young people will go on to pursue, which will likely give them opportunities to study, work, invest, or live abroad. It also lies, however, in a belief that the better they understand and respect people from different traditions and cultures, as well as understand their own identity and values, the better the chances of the next generation creating a more peaceful and equitable world.”
-Jason Morrow, Headmaster; for more on the British International School of New York, visit bis-ny.org.
Ecole Internationale de New York
“At Ecole Internationale de New York (EINY), global education means establishing relationships between students and cultures. We believe in giving our students the keys to become world leaders. We also believe that international education should be focused on developing well-educated, well-rounded, responsible, and compassionate global citizens. Students of EINY learn to speak, think, and collaborate in at least three languages (French, English, Mandarin, or Spanish). They learn with teachers and classmates from other countries. Students are exposed to a bilingual French-American immersion program as well as a variety of cultural programs through EINY’s partnerships with New York’s artistic, historical, and cultural institutions. The symbiosis of French and American curricula and programs makes this education unique. We believe that global education should expose children to foreign languages at an early age. Global knowledge and the acquisition of other foreign languages draw out the potential within each student while encouraging them to be lifelong learners. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: ‘Education is a major driving force for human development. It opens doors to the job market, combats inequality, fosters solidarity, and promotes environmental stewardship. Education empowers people with the knowledge, skills and values they need to build a better world.’ At EINY, we empower our students to become global citizens who will be able to adapt and succeed in a fast-changing world made of opportunities, challenges, and multiple differences.”
-Yves Rivaud, Head of School & Founder; for more on Ecole Internationale de New York, visit einy.org.
“Global education transcends geographical boundaries and mindsets, and is critical to preparing today’s students, who will graduate into, and be expected to compete in, a global world. Parents seeking to ensure their children are ready for a global future can look for a school that begins teaching these essential skills early and embraces a global perspective through all grade levels in age-appropriate ways. Dwight School does this through the academically vigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, founded expressly to educate students to be internationally-minded critical thinkers and sensitive to other cultures. In fact, Dwight was the first school in the Americas to offer the full IB curriculum from ages 3-18. Dwight also accomplishes this through its global network of campuses and exchange programs through which fifth graders travel to Dwight’s campus in London, and older students to travel to Dwight Schools in Seoul and Shanghai. At Dwight, students receive instruction in Spanish and Mandarin beginning in preschool, where their classroom is alive with the sights and sounds of different cultures. Young students also benefit from the emphasis that the IB places on inquiry and learning through the study of global contexts, which includes having our students across campuses solve math problems together; plan a global Earth Day celebration; and audition virtually for an annual concert at Carnegie Hall, for which they come together to rehearse and perform as one.”
-Blake Spahn, Vice Chancellor; for more on Dwight School, visit dwight.edu.
French American School of New York
“In an interconnected world with interconnected economies and many regional and international conflicts, it is crucial that youngsters receive a global education. Today’s kids need to understand other cultures’ points of view, and other people’s ways of conducting business and developing foreign policies. Today’s youngsters are exposed every day to tons of information coming from all over the world; they need help making sense of it. For our children to be competitive and solution-oriented, they must receive an education which engages them to analyze what they read, and to help them develop the empathy needed to put themselves in other people’s shoes and understand their perspectives. At a minimum, they need to speak fluently in more than one language. As importantly, they must acquire a deep knowledge of a culture other than theirs. In my mind, a real global education can only happen in a school with an international student body and faculty, where various perspectives and ways of thinking and reasoning are presented and actively practiced. So in addition to receiving an education which engages them to analyze and to take intellectual risks, and ultimately drives them to become life-long learners, students should be exposed every day to peers and teachers coming from other countries. They should be encouraged to get involved in their community and the larger global community, driven to empathize with others, and enjoy the challenges and the beauty of diversity.”
-Joël Peinado, Head of School; for more on the French American School of New York, visit fasny.org.
Growing Up Global
“Global learning and engagement should be authentic and fun–like friendship– and not feel like homework. Like a good friend, you can ‘grow up global’ with some of these tools: Build your multilingual and multicultural communication skills. Start with manageable steps, whether it’s using DVDs or apps, like Little Pim, checking out multilingual books, or learning a couple words of Spanish at a time on new TV shows like ‘Nina’s World.’ And for a boost, keep a globe handy or mount a map on a wall you look at often. Help your kids become more adventurous eaters, trying cuisines in your community from countries you’ve never traveled to. Invite friends of diverse backgrounds to break bread with you. Building the muscle of enjoying films in various languages, reading the sub-titles and stepping into a different country onscreen can be pure fun, not to mention enlightening and educational. Take it a step further and pair a Japanese, Iranian, or French film with food from that country for an unforgettable movie night. If your kids don’t read fluently yet, that’s ok–“read” them the movie, and you can edit out words or topics they’re not ready for. Whether it’s a cultural festival or religious holiday, ask to join a friend whose traditions differ from yours. Beyond the fun of celebrating, this can serve as a gentler introduction to diverse faiths, and the shared experience helps build deeper bonds of friendship. Service, whether it’s local or global, can be the ultimate measure of true friendship. Simple acts of service start to build the empathy and helpfulness muscle that they’ll grow up with.”
-Homa S. Tavangar, author of Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World and The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners; for more tips, visit growingupglobal.net.
Léman Manhattan Preparatory School
“A global education empowers students to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond, build cultural awareness and understand different perspectives, and celebrate differences. We’re living in an increasingly borderless world. In order to be successful in school, the workplace, and life, children need to build skills related to empathy, self-awareness, critical thinking, risk-taking, and collaboration. We are all global citizens by birth, and we can choose to ignore that or embrace it. Children today have the opp-ortunity to become international peacekeepers and environmental stewards of the planet, and we’ll depend on the next generation to do so. What should you look for in a global education? Parents should understand the international diversity of the student body at a school. Léman is comprised of many first-generation American families and families recently relocated to New York, as well as long-time Manhattan families. This, plus our international boarding program, makes for a vibrant and dynamic community. Parents should also look at the approach to world languages and how many teachers have experience in international schools. As for the curriculum, look for the Inter-national Baccalaureate (IB). It’s the gold standard in global education, and highly valued by top colleges and universities around the world. Research shows that IB students have double the acceptance rates of non-IB students at the most competitive colleges and universities in the US.”
-Paige Murphy, Head of Admissions; for more on Léman Manhattan, visit lemanmanhattan.org.
New York International School
“Global education invites students to look beyond the culture in which they’ve been raised. It provides a school life that allows them to understand and respect others’ experiences, and thereby generate compassion and empathy that wouldn’t be possible without it. On a practical level, a global education allows students to become adults capable of functioning in a multitude of settings and with a wide variety of people, and on a more social/emotional level, it allows for connections and friendships that are otherwise almost inconceivable. One of my greatest joys as head of an international school has been watching young people forge friend-ships that their parents could never have imagined nor experienced. When looking at schools which promote global education, I advise finding those whose mission is deeply rooted in nurturing a multicultural community. It’s not enough to publicize nationality and ethnicity of a student body or the languages that are taught. Truly global schools can readily demonstrate that their faculty is international, and that a multiplicity of cultures is immediately evident in the fabric of the school. Parents should easily see art, music, and literature which reflect many voices. And it’s essential that a school with a global mission has a governance structure (a board), which represents a range of cultures. Families should expect to see an international community mirrored at every possible level.”
-Shelley Borror Jackson, Head of School; for more on the New York International School, visit nyis.org.
The Nightingale-Bamford School
“A global education should include curricular and pedagogical reflections on the where, the how, and the who of a classroom in today’s world. Many times the conventional classroom is ideal, but we should consistently ask when students are better served by leaving the schoolhouse. We should also consider when traditional academic disciplines can and should take an experiential approach. Finally, we can seize this moment to think about how educational experiences are created as much by the students as they are for the students. At Nightingale, we are committed to this line of inquiry in order to graduate girls who have a strong sense of self and a capacity to understand and act on issues of global significance.”
-Paul A. Burke, Head of School; for more on the Nightingale-Bamford School, visit nightingale.org.
Nord Anglia International School
“Actively addressing the concept of global citizenship with children is essential in a world where burgeoning communication makes it a smaller place, whilst cultural dissonance appears to be making it a more intimidating one. Educating children to be global citizens ensures they appreciate being part of a larger community. This is way more than knowing flags and national costumes. True global citizens will empathize with others and be curious rather than judgmental. They will also appreciate fundamental human rights and apply this understanding to analysis of what they see in the media—and many will go a step further, becoming proactive in advocating for change. Along with emotional intelligence, global citizenship needs to be taught as opposed to caught. Our children will have opportunities in industries that are still being invented. They will need to reach out to new markets and possibly become expatriates. They need to feel they can fit anywhere. Similarly, rather than be fearful of change, they need to be readied for it. As parents, we are fortunate to have a generation of children with immense opportunities—if they have been educated to become global citizens, there is every chance they will maximize them.”
–Alan Wilkinson, Principal; for more on Nord Anglia, visit nordangliaeducation.com/our-schools/new-york.
Pine Street School
“Deep into the millennium, a global education is so much more than language and travel. A global education must be an authentic experience, and one in which classmates, resources, and day-to-day experiences invite a student to exercise language fluency, cross-cultural relationships, and problem-solving. Unlike the typical school environment, where learning is rooted in textbooks and worksheets, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program is rooted in current events and world issues that have true relevancy and of-the-moment attraction. The IB curriculum was first developed in the 1960s out of Geneva, by a team of people inspired by the idea of developing generations of graduates who believed in international peace, constructive cross-cultural relationships, and true progress. Today, Pine Street School joins thousands of IB schools worldwide in this belief that school by school, we can nurture capabilities in our children that change the world. A student as young as age 3 begins to build awareness of the world in the IB program. And while we are building awareness, we are equipping them with language fluency. True fluency happens when one must learn to hear and speak in order to participate. The mere act of immersion in a language changes perspective, and invites a child to think differently about the world. I encourage parents to look at the future as a time when language fluency, adaptability, and cross-cultural agility will be king, and to look for programs that support multilingual skills and cross-cultural awareness.”
-Jennifer Jones, Founder; for more on the Pine Street School, visit pinestreetschool.com.
Rudolf Steiner School
“The Rudolf Steiner School is the first Waldorf school in North America, and is a part of an international community of 1,200 schools worldwide. Global education and knowledge of the surrounding world is essential to the Waldorf curriculum. Several members of our faculty are from international countries, including the Philippines, Switzerland, Australia, and Central America. Our diverse international parent and student body additionally enhances the Steiner community. Beginning in grade 1, our students take two languages: German and Spanish. This continues through grade 8, and in high school, the offerings expand to French, German, and Spanish—they are required to take two languages. Because the Rudolf Steiner School is located in the cultural heart of the city, classes frequently visit international exhibitions at museums and cultural centers along Museum Mile. Our Foreign Language Exchange program in grade 10 is the most unique global education program in independent schools. In the fall, a grade 10 student, who attends a Waldorf school in a foreign country, lives with a Steiner family in New York for up to four months. In the spring, the Steiner tenth grader, who hosted a foreign exchange friend, lives in her native country, and attends their Waldorf school. Waldorf education inspires students to be thinkers, creators, and innovators largely through its approach of educating students with a global focus.”
-Brian Kaplan, Director of Marketing and Communications; for more on Rudolph Steiner, visit steiner.edu.
United World College Southeast Asia
“A global education urges us to recognize that our cultural messages are not necessarily universal; it encourages us to cross borders—not just geographical and linguistic borders, but also borders between different ways of conceiving the world. When we realize that there are other ways of viewing and understanding the world, we begin to challenge our own paradigms and see things from other people’s points of view. We begin to judge less and empathize more. Having taught in both the US and Singapore, I know that both West and East have strengths when it comes to parenting and education; a global education involves blending the best of these approaches. Here’s a practical example: Parents and early childhood educators in America do a great job of raising children in language-rich environments that feature reading rituals like the bedtime story or the classroom book discussion. Asian parents and educators, on the other hand, strategically create math-rich environments for their young children. The moms I encountered in Singapore engaged their kids in a wide range of mathematical activities including tangrams, chess, and mental math games, and they focused on developing their kids’ love of math. I think that parents and educators around the globe have a lot to learn from each other. A global education could combine Western approaches to reading with Asian approaches to math. When we blend best practices from around the world, all our children benefit.”
-Maya Thiagarajan, educator at United World College Southeast Asia and author of Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age; for more from Maya visit tuttlepublishing.com.
“At school, look for global competence embedded across all disciplines, not just in your child’s social studies classes. Look beyond curriculum and content, too, to consider how your students are learning and what skills the broader environment fosters. Does the school encourage students to work together to support each other in project-based learning? Does it offer an opportunity for students from diverse backgrounds to learn from each other? Are children encouraged to get to know their community, and examine real-world issues? Together with your child’s teacher and school, look for and encourage opportunities that engage the whole child and offer ways to introduce them to a diversity of cultures and experiences. And at home, be an example for your kids. Model cultural curiosity, and look to your own community for opportunities to expose them to new experiences as often as possible–from foods to music to culture. The next time you go out to eat, try a new place in a new neighborhood. Talk about global events and their connection to your lives in your own communities. Encourage your kids to engage in complex problem solving, and apply it to real-world scenarios—talk about connections between learning in school and events in life. Practice empathy in everyday actions, and frame conversations around multiple perspectives. Encourage your children to ask—is there another way to think about this?”
-Dana Mortenson, Executive Director; for more on World Savvy, visit worldsavvy.org