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A 21st Century Global Education

July 9, 2011

On Sunday, Jenny Anderson of the New York Times wrote an article describing the development of Avenues, a new private school scheduled to open in Manhattan in the 2012 year.

The school is the latest creation of Chris Whittle—it will be a school charging $40,000 a year; it will be a for-profit institution:

“It proposes to educate children differently. ‘The world has changed,’ Team Avenue says, ‘and the way private schools educate has not.’

The founders say students at Avenues will learn bilingually, immersed in classrooms where half the institution will be in Spanish or Mandarin, the other half in English, from nursery school through 4th grade. The school will be part of a network of 20 campuses around the world with roughly the same curriculum . . ..”

“Schools need to do a better job preparing students for international lives, Mr. Whittle said.”

“The school will be global, with at least half of the student body coming from families in which at least one parent is from another country. All schools will have the World Course, a study of the migration of peoples across the globe.”

At the Board retreat last summer, trustees called for the formation of a Task Force exploring the issues connected with globalization at the school. Here are a few questions we posed:

  1. We are at our best as an Episcopal school when we embrace and respect the dignity of every human being, when we develop habits of thinking and behavior that create communities of hospitality and welcome, when we work tirelessly to create schools and communities that engender responsibility and commitment to the common good.
  2. We need to consider how St. Andrew’s can take a leadership role in its approach to ethics and global citizenship.
  3. The school must continue to provide students with an education and community service experiences that will prepare them for a global and diverse world.
  4. We see great benefit and potential in the school’s work to develop and cultivate a broad international diversity in our student body, faculty, staff and trustees. We see international diversity as a central element in a 21st century Episcopal boarding school. The issues involved with globalization are so important and complex that trustees felt we should look carefully and intentionally at these issues:
  • What should be the school’s admission approach to the development of international student diversity?
  • What are the implications in our global world for St. Andrew’s curriculum?
  • How should St. Andrew’s student life programs develop in light of a global world and a more global school population?

In discussions throughout the retreat, the Board made other global recommendations:

  • The school should focus on the Arts as a crucial way of helping students look at life from diverse viewpoints.
  • The school should focus on the language program as an expression and exhibition of the school’s commitment to global education.
  • The school should focus on the study of religion and history as crucial ways for helping our student body study and appreciate global views and perspectives.
  • The school should explore international teacher recruitment and/or international teacher exchanges.
  • The school should explore distance-learning opportunities.
  • The school should continue to use technology to provide students access to global issues and perspectives.
  • A 21st century education will lead students towards an appreciation of the diversity of language, culture, history and religion.
  • A 21st century education will require mastery of a second language.
  • A 21st century education will require students to move out of their comfort zone and study and live abroad.

A final thought: Tony Wagner defines the global achievement gap as the most important challenge facing schools that care about academic excellence. He writes:

. . . There is a core set of survival skills for today’s workplace, as well as for lifelong learning and active citizenship—skills that are neither taught nor tested in our best school systems. He identifies seven survival skills:

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving
  2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  3.  Agility and adaptability
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism
  5. Effective oral and written communication skills
  6. Accessing and analyzing information
  7. Curiosity and imagination
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