An Introduction to International Mindedness

Nov 06, 2023
International mindedness Edmentum International article

One benefit international schools offer to students is a concept called international mindedness, which leads to greater cultural understanding. This way of thinking may become more and more vital to students as the world becomes more connected.

What is International Mindedness?

Education expert Carolyn Savage wrote for the Huffington Post: “Put simply, international mindedness means understanding, respecting and valuing different cultures, embracing diversity and knowing that different perspectives have a great deal to offer.

[International mindedness] enables us to work in harmony with colleagues from around the world and to benefit from a wide range of knowledge and experience. It promotes respect, encourages collaboration and sees students develop high levels of empathy and compassion.”

Carolyn Savage suggests that there are seven key elements to an internationally minded individual:

  • Knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of different cultures
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increased empathy
  • Ability to collaborate with peers from different backgrounds
  • Deepening knowledge and understanding of global issues
  • Ability to see themselves as responsible, global citizens
  • Language skills

Closely relating to this is the term “global mindedness,” meaning the ability of individuals to understand the world in which they live and how they fit into that world, as well as their willingness to take action on global issues. This term often relates to being a global citizen, which, as we can see above, closely aligns with international mindedness.

What does international mindedness mean in relation to education?

When referring to international mindedness within education, schools and educators take what it means to be internationally minded and infuse this into their overarching school strategy and day-to-day teaching.

This is, of course, particularly prevalent in international schools, where so many of the elements of being internationally minded are already set in place. For instance, many global students and educators are from different backgrounds already and will be exposed to different cultures as a result of this. Naturally, this enables international students to see the world from different perspectives.

How Schools are Incorporating International Mindedness

According to the ISC research, teaching and learning content is increasingly incorporating additional collateral to help students develop what international schools consider essential knowledge and skills.

These content themes vary, but the research identified common areas of focus that are particularly aligned with the international school market.

A huge 89% of respondents stated that global context is incorporated into their school’s teaching and learning. 82% said that their teaching and learning includes a focus on host country culture, with 58% stating they incorporate mother-tongue learning support and 41% integrating bilingual provision.

Most international schools also value and encourage the development of life skills. 81% of all respondents stated that their teaching and learning include the development of ethical values. All of this indicates that international mindedness is not only already in sharp focus but will continue to grow and be an established part of global classrooms.

Language Learning and International Mindedness

One key thing we think about relating to internationally minded individuals is the significance of language.

This doesn’t just mean simply learning another language, but what another language can add to an individual’s life experience. Language learning can help students look at things from a different perspective and even alter how they would look at solving a problem.

In a famous TED Talk, linguist and Columbia professor John McWhorter shares four reasons people should learn a language. One of the benefits he discusses is the chance it gives individuals to immerse themselves in a completely new culture. Professor John McWhorter notes:

“And so to the extent that hundreds of languages will be left, one reason to learn them is because they are tickets to being able to participate in the culture of the people who speak them, just by virtue of the fact that it is their code.”

Another key link between international mindedness and language is the importance of the mother tongue and, therefore, celebrating one’s own culture.

In another TED Talk, Suzanne Talhouk highlights the importance of celebrating one’s mother tongue. “Research says that mastery of other languages demands mastery of the mother tongue. Mastery of the mother tongue is a prerequisite for creative expression in other languages.”

From the ISC Research report mentioned previously, when asked about the future of teaching content, 58% of respondents said it incorporates mother-tongue learning support, and 41% said it integrates bilingual provision.

Within the report, one international school said: “We have had several discussions about introducing a bilingual education as the market is changing. Mother Tongue is another area we want to make changes…I think schools are all into introducing innovation regularly. It is part of the fabric of international schools. We do not stay still!”

How Parents Can Encourage International Mindedness

Families hoping to encourage international mindedness can take their children to multicultural events, cultivate international friendships and discuss and celebrate cultural traditions and differences.

This encouragement is important as it helps children understand that multiculturalism is all around us. For some students spending time with family members and friends worldwide isn’t unusual, but for some, it is.

Empower Students with Global Mindedness

To be internationally or globally minded aims to empower learners of all ages to assume active roles, both locally and globally, in building more empathetic, tolerant, inclusive, and secure societies while understanding the world around them.

This global mindset for students also allows students to develop positively as more rounded individuals, setting them up for successful futures.

Edmentum’s International Learning Approach

Our K-12 integrated digital curriculum and assessment solutions cater to your English language learners’ diverse teaching and learning needs (ELLs) in and out of the classroom, ensuring every student can experience growth and a truly personalized and tailored learning experience.

The real-time tracking of student success means educators can identify meaningful learning trends and support language proficiency and academic success through data points like progress, growth, pacing, and usage.

Our flexible approach to learning offers additional accommodation options for students. From allowing for more individualized support to built-in text-to-speech functionality ensuring content can be read aloud, we’re here for your ELLs.

Interested in fostering global citizenship in your students? Discover effective strategies for promoting international mindedness in schools.

Get the latest education insights sent directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our Knowledge Articles