Guide International Education in Practice: Dimensions for Schools and International Schools

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Alternatively, they may represent the economic elite of a country and in fact may seem to be more privileged than the expatriate families in the school. Or they may dominate the community to the extent that the school has to adjust its practices to suit their interests and the expatriates are made to feel like outsiders. Indeed in many international schools the student population is a mix of these main groups: expatriates and host country nationals attending the international school for different reasons.

The nature of the balance between the two groups whether host country nationals or expatriates are in the majority and how the two are integrated can be crucial to the smooth running of such a school, and it is not unusual for international schools that accept both groups to operate some sort of quota system, official or unofficial, in Haydench Some move often, from place to place, country to country.

Others establish semi-permanent lodgings on foreign soil, returning to the place their parents call home for vacations or family events. The children shuttle back and forth between nations, languages, cultures and loyalties. They live unrooted childhoods. Eidse and Sichel, 1 The notion of rootlessness, as described by Eidse and Sichel, is not one to which all would subscribe: some would argue that such a childhood has actually resulted in their feeling rooted to several places rather than to one. The concept of globally mobile children, however, is certainly well established. Children have moved from country to country, generally with their families, over many years and for many reasons.

A number of these situations relate to temporary displacement arising from war or illness, but it has often been the case that children with their families have made more permanent moves. Such migrants generally aspire to a reasonable level of permanence in another country which can offer them a better way of life.

Such immigrants may aspire to assimilation by adopting the language, habits and patterns of behaviour of the new cultural context and refraining from the use of their primary Haydench And indeed some children of such families may attend international schools, though the number is relatively low: in part because the fee-paying nature of many international schools may rule out such a possibility where stateprovided education is free, and in part because the desire to assimilate points to education within the national system as the preferred option.

For the most part though, the globally mobile children who attend international schools are not those whose families make a permanent move to a new country where they can put down roots and establish a new home. They are, rather, the children of families whose moves are more transient, who generally do not expect to remain indefinitely in their new location. As cosmopolitans — people who have entered international careers — transnational elites seem to move more by choice and be in a better position to negotiate their connections, their nationalities, and benefits associated with their choice of a national residence.

Willis et al. Such a description, while clearly applying to some of the globally-mobile children who spring to mind in the context of international schools, serves to highlight the differences between the various terms that are employed in this context and to accentuate the need for clearer definition.

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Some such terms are more obvious in their meaning than others. Tending, when away from their home country, to be clustered in larger groups than might often be the case for missionary children their education has, in the case of at least some national military systems and for some of their schooling, been catered for by schools set up for that particular purpose. Occasionally MKs, PKs and Military Brats might be found in international schools, and the recent closure of some US bases, for instance, has led to higher numbers of Military Brats attending international schools than might previously have been the case.

The majority of the globally mobile student population of such schools, however, do not belong to these groupings, and it is this majority on whom the remainder of this chapter will largely focus. When they come to their country of citizenship some for the first time , they do not feel at home because they do not know the lingo or expectations of others — especially those of their own age.

Where they feel most like themselves is in that interstitial culture, the third culture, which is created, shared and carried by persons who are relating societies, or sections thereof, to each other. Global Nomads are members of a world-wide community of persons who share a unique cultural heritage. While developing some sense of belonging to both their host culture s and passport culture s , they do not have a sense of total ownership in any. Elements from each culture and from the experience of international mobility are blended, creating a commonality with others of similar experience.

Global nomads of all ages and nationalities typically share similar responses to the benefits and challenges of a childhood abroad. The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. This child is certainly a Global Nomad and is in one sense a TCK, but is arguably very different in terms of identity from another child whose parents are of two different nationalities and first languages, who does not keep in regular contact with either set of grandparents, who attends an international school with no particular national affiliation, and whose best language is English because that is the language of his or her school.

Rader and Sittig 3 point out that some of the characteristics of such children are likely to be similar to those of children who move within one national context referring to research by Jason et al. This is an important point to bear in mind, while at the same time acknowledging the additional layers of complexity that may be added for a TCK in terms of distance from the passport country, lack of clarity about a national identity, and the challenges of living in a place where the language is different from any previously spoken.

IDENTITY Pasternak describes a scenario which may not be atypical of a child in an international school, who begins her day with a news report on a war somewhere in the world, graphically illustrated with explicit scenes provided by a CNN International camera. As she munches her international breakfast of products from far-off places she may switch to Euro News for an update on the latest decisions taken at the European Parliament. But not for long: a quick flick of the wrist and a Japanese cartoon, dubbed into English, will hold her attention for a Haydench As she sits on her German-built school bus some fruity chewing gum, straight from friends in the USA, is passed around.

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A final 30 minutes TV, an adventure film in Urdu, and another international day comes to an end. What is her identity? Where does she belong? It would be difficult to find clearer or more thorough accounts of issues relating to identity in TCKs than those written by Pearce including , and Strength of attachments to parents may be as strong as for a less mobile child though the case of military children is interesting, when one parent may be absent for long periods of time , but attachments to others may be more ephemeral Pearce, While noting the potential benefits of such a relationship, including the opportunity for the child to develop fluency in the host culture language, Schaetti notes two concerns: the potential for cultural dissonance with the Haydench A related issue encountered in some international schools, possibly less so in the context of global nomads than with privileged host country students, arises where the host country caregiver is expected to do everything for the child long after the age at which the children of less privileged families would have been expected to learn to do things for themselves.

In a study conducted in Botswana with 9—11 year old students who held passports from other countries, Nette concluded that their sense of belonging was strongly influenced by the Haydench She and her husband, she explains, deliberately bought a house in Canada that is rented out while they are away and to which they return after each foreign assignment, the children re-establishing links with the same peer group who live nearby and also returning to the family dog, who is rented out with the house.

Children, of course, naturally do their best to adapt to their surroundings — and most globally mobile children make four adaptations to their mobility, according to McKillop-Ostrom: They show forced extroversion by going out of their way to get to meet new people and form friendships quickly.

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They tend to mesh and mimic, which cuts down on the need to gain acceptance. They travel lightly, entering relationships that are typically short-term and intense, and they develop ease in saying goodbye, leaving very few people from whom they cannot walk away. At first glance, many TCKs appear privileged. And indeed they are privileged, in many respects.

It would be dangerous to assume, however, that such children do not also face challenges that may not be faced by their more rooted contemporaries; within the context of international schools, it is clearly important that teachers who work with them are aware of these challenges. This chapter will focus on a number of issues arising with respect to the TCK school experience, before touching briefly on what is known of some of the longer term effects of such a childhood.

The first such issue, one of the most central to TCKs, is that of transition.

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Undoubtedly there are some areas of similarity between such studies and the context of international schools, though there are also differences, and none of these groups coincides closely with the profile of the Global Nomads to be found in so many international schools. Such children are clearly privileged materially, socially in terms of social and communication skills developed and educationally through first-hand experiences of history, geography, religions, languages and cultures that other children might learn about only through books or the Internet.

But it would be simplistic not to scratch below the surface of their life histories to investigate the potentially less positive effects of such a lifestyle. The relative instability of their upbringing, for instance, can have an impact. Pollock and Van Reken point out that life for everyone consists of a series of transitions — some expected from infancy to childhood or from school to university and some sudden and unexpected loss of a job, serious injury, untimely death of a loved one.

In order to arrive at a better understanding of what international schools were doing to accommodate the needs of such students, she undertook a survey of international school teachers and administrators working at 41 international schools worldwide, as well as interviewing ten experienced international school administrators. Davis, an experienced international school head in Kuala Lumpur, accessed eight international schools in Malaysia to investigate the views of parents of TCKs with respect to the value placed on different types of school support, and the views of administrators headteachers, principals and superintendents in the same eight schools as to the levels of school support provided.

Davis, Increased attention to such points would provide support for the psychological needs of international school students, which McKillop-Ostrom argues Haydench McKillop-Ostrom, 80—2 Building in such activities in order better to support students undergoing transition experiences will, McKillop-Ostrom argues, help them to become better-adjusted individuals. Children are also expected to cope with the effect on intra-family relationships of relocation — and all this even if the child is a native speaker of the language of both countries and both schools: how much more elasticity is required in the rubber band when a variety of languages is involved?

Ezra, in discussing issues relating to the globally mobile child, suggests 16 points for support that should be provided by international schools for such children and their families, a number of which Haydench Not to be forgotten in any discussion of transition and the globally mobile child should be those children in international schools who do not move so frequently, but who regularly lose friends who move on to another location.

Eventually many stop the hurt by not getting so close to others. In the growing, if still relatively limited, research and literature on the effects of global mobility on children those who move and those who are left behind , one voice is infrequently heard. While it is essential to draw on the experience of teachers and administrators and to listen to the views of parents, it is rarely the case that the thoughts of the children themselves are actively sought in any systematic way.

One interesting feature which may not be unusual among TCKs was that seven of the 30 had moved internationally four or more times already, by the age of 11 years.

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  • Settling in had clearly been easier for some children than others, as had the sense of loss felt about leaving behind relations and pets. If the child has moved unwillingly, then even the first U-curve or W-curve stage of initial enthusiasm may not apply. It should also be borne in mind that a number of the culture shock models are based on the notion of a cycle of approximately three years, whereas often globally mobile families move on after a shorter period.

    Arguably, therefore, the traditional culture shock models will not apply in all such cases and an updated version of such a model is needed for this context.

    In the case of many international school students then, and TCKs in particular, it is likely that on arrival at a new international school and for Haydench The former may be more obvious. The latter may not be obvious to an observer at all, and in that sense could be potentially more problematic.

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    To a child whose first international school experience this is, for instance, and whose previous educational experience was in a more traditional teacher-centred environment, the new school may at first appear to have no rules as the subtle cues understood by those familiar with the relatively liberal child-centred approach found in many international schools pass them by. Such lack of sensitivity on the part of the teacher may well be the cause of another form of individualised culture shock which could potentially manifest itself, in different ways, with every teacher with whom the child interacts during the school day.

    Similarly, Haydench Intercultural learning was noted by Allan to take place mainly in students from outside the predominant student national cultures. The nature of the learning taking place in international school students, both academic and social, is clearly complex. Depending upon the nature of the school and its location, the extent and nature of the support required will clearly vary.

    In those many international schools that cater for highly mobile Global Nomads, the question of language support can be complex and sometimes fraught with difficulty. Grosjean points out that at least half the world is bilingual but only in oral skills; multiliteracy skills are the exception, not the rule , in Tokuhama—Espinosa, a: xiii. Is someone bilingual if they rarely or never use one of their languages?

    Suffice to say that issues relating, inter alia, to the four basic language abilities listening, reading, speaking and writing , to the balance of fluency between the two languages and indeed the four basic abilities in each , the uses to which each language is put in different contexts and the extent to which an individual can exercise choice in use of language are all complicating features.

    Despite fluency in Italian, education in the national system proved not to be possible because she had not reached the required level in Latin and she was therefore enrolled at an international school for three years, before relocating to Germany to complete her Abitur after another three years and then moving with her family to Switzerland, where she attended university — While perhaps more extreme in the number of moves, countries and languages than would be the case for many international school students, this sort of lifestyle, with its fragmented approach to language development and usage, is not as uncommon as might be imagined.

    Allemann-Ghionda does not give any impression of having done other than take all the different language experiences in her stride, but not all Global Nomads cope as well as she appears to have done.