The essence of International Education as envisioned and being attempted in Orchid International School For TOI; Rev00, 24.03.2013
A phrase like International Education is stimulating and can easily evoke strong thoughts of different kinds without understanding much of what it means. The words, international and education, have profound meanings, with serious implications of a kind that a close look at them can “still” the mind of a serious and thoughtful person. Alas, this does not usually happen because we seem to use words without realizing their meanings, or even without knowing their meanings.
Pause surely enhances or brings about a sense of inwardness in which the mind is primarily not oriented towards the outer. Quietness comes into being.
Why is it that we use words so easily without understanding their meanings? What is the cause for our general thoughtlessness? Why is mindless consumption increasing at such a pace even if it is so clearly detrimental to us? In a normally observant person, such questions should arise naturally and stir her or him to a state of restless discontentment. Why is it that we are becoming abnormal and unnatural to an extent that such incorrigible apathy has set into large numbers of people in our society? Why is it that even when such unhealthy influences are affecting schoolchildren with increasing intensity we do not wake up? Why is it that when children, who are naturally endowed to experience the highest quality of beauty, joy and vibrancy, are becoming dull at an early age, we do not feel sad? Is it that we have forgotten what is truly good and right for our children or is it that we never knew it?
These questions are valid across the world because economic and social development as organized in the present times is bound to increase incidence of juvenile obesity, decreasing attention span of school going kids, increasing violence in the society, including in schools. A person who receives and grapples with such questions, which are palpable across the world, is a responsible citizen of the globe and is perhaps an international person. A school community in which such essential and basic questions are also asked is an international school. The educational intent and processes of an international school will be designed against this backdrop although the content would obviously include the best skills and concepts of the subjects to be taught. Ipso facto, an international school is, at an essential level, one that organizes itself around questions, which challenge people all around the world. These large questions will influence and determine what kind of minds staff and students of such a school will have. To attempt such minds to be brought about obviously requires facilities, curriculum and educational processes carefully deliberated and decided.
About four year’s back, just after the Parent Teacher Meeting (PTM) of that academic year, a significant number of parents emphasised in their individual meetings with the Principal that our school made false promises in the initial days, and we must quickly improve to fulfil the promises made. Otherwise, it will be breach of trust. Over a period of four years, we took various steps to not only work upon the feedback but also intensify the impetus of improvement. After the end 2012-13 PTM held in first week of April, only a few parents met the Principal to offer any feedback, which warranted any serious intervention.
The trio of having international curriculum, international staff and international students perhaps provides only the base upon which a school can address large and international questions to shape itself and educate the minds of the children. The emergent educational processes, which make the staff and students sensitive, sensible and responsible, are more important. Can an international educational outlook emerge from a remotely located school without adequate facilities and without having an international curriculum? Prima facie, this does not seem possible if we consider the form important, but very much possible if we are looking at the content and flavor. Asking a simpler question makes it easy. Can an international cricketer be born in a remote place without adequate coaching facilities? Obviously, it is not only possible but has happened more often than not!
Looking forward, the road we will tread during the third phase of development looks as challenging as it was during the second phase! The nature of the challenge is obviously different and related to the intent. It may be a good idea to state the organisational intent for this phase of development to gain clarity about it.
It seems important to ask the right questions with or without impressive and imposing infrastructure, international curriculum, international staff or international students. If the right global questions are the fountainhead of the educational intent and processes of a school, an internationally oriented educational centre can emerge. The educational approach and processes will emerge from these questions and the school will be much more than its people, students, curriculum and processes. When concern for the world at large influences, energizes and shapes a school, as it does in our case, the staff and children become mindful, thoughtful, sensitive and sensible to their lives and the life around them in all respects. They do not lose sight of the larger questions of life and society in the quest for learning and understanding the subjects or participating in activities. They realize over a period that we are an inescapable and integral part of a much larger and more beautiful world. To preserve this global beauty we need to partake of the challenges faced by the world community. Is this not one of the facets of what an international school is supposed to bear in mind at all times?
It is clear that a school can be international in its content and fabric if and only if a few people share questions of the global kind and remain large and gracious in their relationship with all the other peoples of the world. A deep and genuine simplicity and reverential outlook is called from each of us towards all others, around us, for us to be international and global. Can each of us be so simple as to have lost most of our identity because it is strong identities, which are divisive and prevent internationalism? If such an outlook of internationalism is considered it is it is more easily possible for children to be educated with the right understanding of matters and hence to bear an international outlook. As an educator in a school, I have experienced many simple situations, which held immense potential for children to develop oneness with others and be with people of different kinds with understanding and respect. This quality is clearly beyond the boundaries of nations or peoples and is true internationalism. Sharing a few instances might help me to ease my joy!
The starting prayer of the different groups of children is the same in our school, even if we hold their morning assemblies separately. The students of Classes 1 to 3 and Classes 4 to 6 assemble concurrently at different locations. Chanting by one group can disturb the other, because they are only a short distance from each other. After experimenting with different means to bring about synchronism, these days we request one group to just join the other from any word convenient. The confluence achieved this way is not “right,” nevertheless, the children have learnt to join a distant group to do something together. The good effect is palpable. Such spontaneous and simple approaches have the promise to improve collaboration and cooperation amongst children without the use of such words. Downplay of competition in all possible ways seems to be a pre requisite for the natural flow of understanding between individuals and groups to come about. Such an approach also brings in the best of the child, which may excel what he might achieve in competition with others of the same level!
Natural merger of two different groups to sing together has beautiful notes of internationalism imbued in it. A child, who can join others in singing a melodious song in a simple and spontaneous manner, would have developed the simple art of being with others internationally! ?