Taking a global view
By Natalie Bailey
25 Apr
International experiences can hugely enrich education and enhance skills for future employment. But with interest in modern languages at GCSE level diminishing and fewer university students showing interest in a year abroad, how can teachers encourage international aspirations in young children?

We asked Serena Alexander, author of Galore Park Mathematics for Common Entrance series, and James Dale-Adcock, author of Galore Park Geography for Common Entrance range, about the importance of using international examples in classes to inspire and develop a ‘global’ way of thinking in young pupils.

Enriching educational experiences

Serena: We should be doing all we can to encourage children to be involved with the global community and different cultures. Schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and community service projects are great for inspiring this mentality at home, and by expanding this onto the international stage, young people can broaden their experiences while making a difference for other people.

In order to encourage students to think multiculturally, you have to show them how international responsibility and sharing ideas is important. History can help with this. For example, Britain was greatly influenced by the 11th Century Norman invasion, which improved the cuisine and altered the language. Even the “quintessentially English” dish of Fish and Chips was brought to Britain by Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain!

James: I teach at Cranleigh Preparatory School in Surrey, where we include international concerns and awareness across the whole curriculum in every year group. We run whole-school events such as “French Day”, during which all subjects, including geography, mathematics and food technology incorporate French culture and news.

International ideas can be included across the entire curriculum, helping children to think critically about their environment and enrich their understanding of the world. Issues like the migrant crisis and the recent terrorist attacks can be very difficult to discuss with younger children, but by addressing these concerns sensitively, you can develop their social, moral, spiritual and cultural awareness.

International outlook, improved abilities

Serena: Studying our own culture and how traditions have been adopted and influenced by other cultures helps pupils to understand their own environment while becoming critical thinkers and decision-makers, selecting the best models of practice from other cultures and adapting them to fit with our own.

James: Centring pupils’ learning around international issues and thinking helps them to understand from an early age, that as a part of western society, we are incredibly privileged. The most important thing for young people, is learning how to relate to others in a global context and present themselves in a positive way in the international community. At 
Cranleigh Preparatory School we foster this through assessed presentations and decision-making exercises, and examining issues such as the global economy through cultural awareness.

Practical advice on international teaching

Serena: The best way to deliver an engaging and inspiring lesson is to present something that you are passionate about. By conducting independent research, teachers can broaden their scope and find what inspires them about their subject. The international context may reveal a new passion and interest which you can then disseminate down to your students as part of a rich and varied education.

James: By implementing international debates or by inviting alumni who have worked in international occupations back to the school, you can generate a great deal of enthusiasm around global topics. Internationalism should transcend year groups, so be sure to address the topic in your curriculum planning group so that this focus can be established. Technology also opens the door to develop ‘connected classrooms’, and truly explore the opportunity for connections to be made between sister schools. Cranleigh recently opened a school in Abu Dhabi, and we are examining ways of sharing international experiences between students.

Tags: Common Entrance, Geography, Geography for Common Entrance, International Learning, International Teaching, James Dale-Adcock, Mathematics, Mathematics for Common Entrance, MFL, Serena Alexander

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