Jude McKerrecher started teaching Modern Languages in Edinburgh. She was curriculum leader at Liberton High School and then curriculum leader at Craigmount High School. She is currently on secondment to The Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools based at Scotland’s National Centre for Languages in the University of Strathclyde. This remit takes her to schools across Scotland to support teachers in Primary and Secondary schools with the introduction and progression of Mandarin and includes supporting projects, designing and delivering Professional Learning for teachers and supporting the Hanban teachers with training throughout their time in Scottish schools.
International Friendship Day need not be reserved for a special time slot in the calendar. Internationalism - with all of its diversity, cultural richness and opportunities for vibrant community and world connections - is intrinsically linked to our everyday existence. It is the thread which creates potential for a dynamic tapestry of multi-disciplinary learning across schools and communities. It combines our own uniqueness with an interconnection of beautiful perspectives on what it is to be human in an outward looking, forward-thinking, inclusive world.
When we help our learners to become global citizens - to see themselves as players in a universal team that plays for the world, where everybody matters, where diversity is celebrated and where there is cultural respect and understanding - we open doors to real everyday international friendship. Here, we support the development of many important skills, including empathy, curiosity, courage, confidence, tolerance and creativity, skills which are key to unlocking and unleashing present and future potential for a peaceful, unified planet. In fact, these skills were manifest in abundance during the recent Thailand cave rescues, where a whole host of people came together from across the world with a common purpose; to share expertise in order to rescue the boys and their coach who were trapped. Hope and trust led to a very successful internationally cooperative operation in which any differences were irrelevant to the combined humanity of the group.
The following ideas are not exhaustive and are merely suggestions. They may well have occurred in your school already - if so, you can no doubt supplement them to support reflection and dialogue about your school’s internationality and interculturality. I am also making mention of UNESCO’s Rethinking Education: Towards a Global Common Good here, as it is a very insightful read and certainly gave me as a teacher, learner and citizen of the world much to think about.
We need not look far to unearth international gold in our schools and communities. There will always be young people, colleagues and families with direct or indirect connections to different countries, diverse nationalities, languages and invaluable cultural stories. By embracing these naturally occurring opportunities, learners can gain international perspectives in their own local contexts and see that their worlds are interconnected. They can also learn to celebrate and embrace diversity and differences.
WELL DONE ZINA FOR BEING ONE OF THE WINNERS OF THE MOTHER TONGUE OTHER TONGUE COMPETITION! #SCILT SCOTLAND'S NATIONAL CENTRE FOR LANGUAGES pic.twitter.com/qrYF2RGUcK— St James' Primary (@StJamesPSR) March 29, 2018
Thanks to @kkidsinvt and @JenWilliamsEdu for pushing me to dive back into school stuff with the #MicrosoftEdu Teaching Sustainable Development Goals course! #CelebrateMonday #TeachSDGs https://t.co/hcYx5xmWYQ via @MicrosoftEDU— Sara Holm (@SaraHolm15) August 6, 2018
While historically or traditionally, international education was perhaps more associated with cultural study trips abroad, exchanges, or with the languages department, today’s international is not abroad or confined to one particular curricular area. International is here, and there, and you, and me, and them. Our world is composed of a series of international experiences we may not recognise at first. They are in our food, where it comes from and how it arrives, they are in our shops, our art, our music, our words, our films, our books and our everyday exchanges and our friends. We are all international, but to develop an international mindset and outlook in our learners, we as teachers can contribute in our own contexts every day and everywhere. We can help our society towards a more equitable, tolerant, kind and accepting world by actively supporting our learners to develop into and to see themselves as dedicated global citizens.
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How are teachers ensuring results in an environment where no one size fits all? I thought it would be useful to ask Primary and Secondary school learners for their own views about how a teacher brings teaching and learning to life for them. I imagined some rather all-singing-all-dancing responses but, surprisingly, this really was not the case. Here are some of their responses:
“To become a leader, you must first become a human being.” Confucius
I started this post just as we awaited the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize winner 2017. Nobel Peace Prize winners are leaders who, through their passion, determination and influence, fight for causes close to their own hearts - with much wider societal and global benefits. They are inspired and moved enough to insist and persist, leading a cause with fire and enthusiasm for the good of humanity. This year’s award was to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. “ICAN” – what a hugely important cause, and a great campaign name which embodies a leadership attitude: “I can”.
When you are outside, choose and use your language wisely!
In the beginning, human beings were not designed to spend hours each day surrounded by brick walls. They were naturally programmed for survival, for the great outdoors with its unpredictability, and each day provided naturally occurring learning opportunities which were a necessity if our ancient ancestors were to survive.
Take a look at part 1 of Jude's journey here.
Visit - “Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” – Asian proverb
The opportunity to be in China for a block of time, and the chance to learn and discover new places, meant that any freedom we had for rest or recreation was largely taken up with maximising every moment to go somewhere or to absorb the culture. While there were the planned visits to the Great Wall, The Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Summer Palace, there were other opportunities to take the metro to some of the absolutely wonderful markets and ornate temples.
“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so…get on your way!” – Dr Seuss
The opportunity to be immersed in the language and culture of another country provides a valuable opportunity for increasing cultural awareness first-hand, interacting with native speakers and developing new perspectives. A little over a year ago, I left Scotland to spend two full weeks in China with a group of Scottish teachers. Our group was composed of Primary and Secondary teachers. We were all heading to the Beijing Language and Culture University to learn Mandarin, enhance our understanding of Chinese culture and gain new ideas we could bring back to our own work contexts.
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