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Integrating Intercultural Awareness and Local Culture into the Teaching and Learning at ISZL
By Jacob Martin, Director of Teaching and Learning

In 2019 the world we live in seen through the lens of the media we consume can be seen as a deeply fractured, divided and even frightening place. Young people throughout different cultures and circumstances are confronted with the complex contradictions of the interconnected, interdependent systems in our world (e.g. climate change, human migration, terrorism, substance use, etc.). 

An essential question for ISZL and our programme is how do we help students to reflect on, deeply understand and respond mindfully and compassionately to these issues rather than just feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of these systems. These values are represented in both the mission statement of the International Baccalaureate (IB):

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

and our own:

As a world leader in international education, our motivated students will have the skills, empathy, resilience and ambition to embrace the challenges and opportunities of a changing world.

We believe that compassion, knowledge and agency are the key components of developing these attributes in our students and to develop these deliberately is an ingredient of all our programmes at ISZL. 

The teaching and learning programme at ISZL contains units which are planned deliberately around inquiry and seek to develop knowledge and skills but also the development of our learner profile. Our learner profile includes the ideas of Caring, Reflection and Open-Mindedness and we believe these are the skills needed by students to develop intercultural understanding. 

We believe that internationally-minded people are globally engaged and value intercultural understanding, to ensure our programme helps develop this we provide opportunities to develop multilingualism and global engagement. Offering multiple languages from the age of five and a large first language programme helps students not only communicate with other students and adults from other cultures but also understand the community and the culture of others by making informed comparisons and connections. 

Opportunities to engage with community service both locally and internationally is also a way to develop a compassionate understanding of others and their cultures. At ISZL we believe that an understanding of these communities, the way we relate to them and the effects we can have upon them, are important components in the education of our students. This aspect of the curriculum is continuous and progressive from Early Years 1 to Grade 12. 
However, childrens’ understanding of their own cultures and the local culture they find themselves in is our first priority on this path and how we learn from these is essential to developing intercultural awareness, As Plato remarks in his dialogue Phaedrus, 'know thyself' first. We ensure that opportunities are seized in all areas of our programme to link to Swiss local culture and history and the cultures of all those represented in our community. 

Through our mission, the mission of the IB and the deliberate planning of our programme to develop our learner profile whilst providing opportunities to develop more than one language and take action in diverse communities we hope to develop and nurture intercultural awareness for all our students.
 

  • Curriculum
  • Global Connections
  • Local Connections
  • Teaching

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