Pocahontas & International-Mindedness

This animated gif is part of a recent Buzzfeed post doing the rounds on Facebook: “31 Signs You’re a Third Culture Kid*.”

Pocahontas and John Smith
Pocahontas and John Smith. Click for the full Buzzfeed post “31 Signs You’re A Third Culture Kid.”

It’s a nice stimulus for thought about what makes our schools different, as well as a neat connection to the IB’s mission statement in that we

“…encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.” 

As I think more about what makes an international school ‘international’, I come back to the visible outcomes in terms of student learning, action and attitudes. Are our students becoming more world-minded (or internationally-aware – of other countries and cultures). Does our school promote a deeper set of values of international-mindedness through global citizenship: cultural appreciation and consideration of global issues and an understanding of our interconnectedness and ability to influence change? Do we go beyond the surface of flags, food and festivals and look at what is really going in the world and how our disciplines are connected as part of a global whole?

Over the next year or so – in my MA work and out of interest – I’ll further develop my web chart of the international dimension of a school. The field of international education research is one of real interest: developing, debatable and relevant to our international school contexts (and to my own third/cross-culture kids).

Web Chart of the International Dimension of a School
Web Chart of the International Dimension of a School

More Reading: 


*The Buzzfeed post would be a good homeroom activity for students, or a discussion point in a pastoral care session. How do the students in your class classify themselves? Can they think of any further signs of being Third Culture? Could they represent the signs using different images, music, movie clips or personal anecdotes?

The gif above is a line from the Colours of the Wind song. Again, this could make a great lesson provocation in a citizenship-focused class, or as part of a Ways of Knowing TOK sequence.

“If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.”







4 responses to “Pocahontas & International-Mindedness”

  1. Scott Cameron Avatar

    International mindedness is a big issues at the schools. I believe the CIS/NEASC accreditation teams requires that your school is committed to internationalism / inter-culturalism. Unfortunately they do not provide a definition on what exactly this is, so each school needs to develop their own picture of internationalism at their school.

    We spent a number of meetings (few teachers, admin, parents) defining what this was at our BIS.

    We came up with “Education at Bandung International School encourages the development of balanced individuals empowered to “participate responsibly, successfully and with integrity” in education through their understanding of and action on global and local issues. It is enhanced by fostering cultural and linguistic diversity, thinking critically and by valuing humanity in a spirit of cooperation, respect and tolerance.”

    How would you define international mindedness / international / inter-culturalism? In order to know if we are successful in implementation we need to know a definition.


    1. Stephen Avatar

      Thanks for the comment, Scott!

      The links above are a great source for definitions or descriptions, and I tried to distinguish between international-mindedness (a more active global citizenship) and world-mindedness (a more passive awareness that other cultures are there) in the post.

      I would say that BIS promotes a pretty good degree of international-mindedness, and it does tend to go hand-in-hand with a strong culture of service. I do like the use of Action in the statement from BIS – that’s a key element of really being part of the global community.

  2. International students in middle school: Marginal or model? | Loving Language Avatar

    […] Pocahontas & International-Mindedness (ibiologystephen.wordpress.com) […]

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