Written by Mrs Margaret Renshaw
Assistant Principal and Head of Secondary, Kinabalu International School.
Panel of Educational Experts, Parents Avenue Magazine
Panel of Educational Experts, Parents Avenue Magazine
In ever increasingly connected societies, many educationalists are grappling with the concept of global citizenship and of maximizing its potential to create a better world for everybody. Schools are reviewing their Missions and Values statements to reflect their commitment to developing global citizens.
But what does it mean to be a ‘Global Citizen’? There are many definitions, and if you ask 100 people you may get 100 different statements in their answers. However, you will probably hear some common themes: ‘it involves caring for the planet’, ‘it involves respecting others’, ‘it means understanding other cultures’.
Oxfam  sees the global citizen as someone who:
• is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen
• respects and values diversity
• has an understanding of how the world works
• is passionately committed to social justice
• participates in the community at a range of levels, from the local to the global
• works with others to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place
• takes responsibility for their actions
If we hope for a better world for our children, it makes sense that education and schools should be at the forefront of promoting the ideas surrounding global citizenship. It would be fair to say that ideas of respect, understanding and caring have always been central to parental and educational philosophies; global citizenship ties these together in a strong and coherent way to maximise benefits to children, and ultimately to the world in which we all live.
Boyd Roberts, author of Educating for Global Citizenship: A Practical Guide for Schools asserts that a global citizen also has a sense of connectedness with and responsibility to others, other species and the environment, understands interconnectedness and complexity, can see the world through the eyes of others, and most positively, views the future with hope.
Some might think that a school cannot actively nurture global citizenship unless it is an international school with students and staff from a range of different cultures. This is a misunderstanding; there are many schools around the world that are mono-cultural and are doing great things in nurturing and developing students with all the appropriate qualities that make them global citizens. Others believe that you cannot be a global citizen unless you can and have travelled to other countries to experience other cultures directly. Again, not true.
At Kinabalu International School we are fortunate in having over thirty different nationalities within the student body. We celebrate and respect all cultures, and this can be seen in the special occasions that we organize, including our annual International Day celebrations, Chinese New Year celebrations, and the recent Kaamatan celebration. Whilst these wonderful events are important and cannot be undervalued, we know that building global citizenship goes deeper.
At KIS we are in the process of developing our own definition of global citizenship. This work has been carried forward over the last eight months by a cross-phase group of staff that has been reviewing our philosophy and objectives. In the coming year we plan to finalise our definitions and then embed them into the life of the school in all its aspects, not a small job by any means! In this we are supported by the Council of International Schools (CIS).
KIS is an CIS accredited school and we are already looking ahead to the next two years when we will be using the framework of the new CIS International Protocol to structure our development in global citizenship and intercultural and intracultural education.
At a CIS organized symposium on intercultural education [Hong Kong March 2018] educators from around the world came together to share expertise and ideas in two parallel forums: Strand A: Whole school global citizenship: Designing and implementing effective strategy and Strand B: Moving beyond international mindedness: Teaching and learning strategies for global citizenship.
Professor Michael Young from the Institute of Education, the University of London, spoke about starting from the ‘end product’ and ‘working backwards’, his advice being that we start by looking at the kind of young people that we would like to see, what kind of qualities would we like them to have, and then thinking in practical terms how we can develop those in schools.
Another speaker stated firmly that children are already global citizens and we shouldn’t imagine that even very young children can’t develop in these areas. We saw wonderful video evidence of global citizenship projects that three year olds are working on in a school in America. Jim Reese, from Washington International School and Project Zero emphasised the importance of developing critical thinking skills in young people as essential to global citizenship.
There are many exciting developments in the field of global citizenship and education. Understanding is growing. All parents, when searching for a school for their child, should look carefully at what the institution says it does, as indicated by its mission statement, and at its stated values. Schools that are developing global citizens will emphasize caring, empathy and respect for and understanding of other cultures. In these schools students will be actively encouraged to learn about the way the world works and to participate actively within it, to make things better for humanity and for the global environment.
Find out more about KIS, kindly visit www.kis.edu.my or call 088 - 224526 to make an appointment with Ms Tina Koroh, Admissions Officer.
As featured in Parents Avenue Magazine Issue No.12 July to September 2018