Gearing Up for Globalization

The Huffington Post

Gearing Up for Globalization: The Impact of International Baccalaureate Hits Home

Adam Shapiro (Aug 12, 2016)

My friend Verelyn Gibbs Watson asked me to share the following story:

My daughter has been teaching me Mandarin. Every week, she picks a new word to focus on. Her favorite methods include testing my comprehension by interspersing English and Mandarin in simple requests, like pointing to the fruit bowl and asking “Mommy can you pass me that Pingguo?” and checking to see if I choose the apple. She also likes to sing what surprisingly is a very riveting song. The song is about, judging by her accompanying pantomime, either tigers or very rambunctious cats that are missing tails. In any case, all of this is very impressive to me because my daughter just turned 5 years old.

What’s even more impressive to me is that her pre-school had the foresight to offer language enrichment as part of the core curriculum for toddlers. Another program that has had the foresight to help children gain a global competitive advantage is the International Baccalaureate program.

In an increasingly (and rapidly!) globalizing world, I know from personal experience as a parent that we want to do everything we can to give our kids an edge and make sure they won’t be left behind.

IB states that it’s “motivated by a mission to create a better world through education.” What’s even better for my daughter and her classmates is that fact that one of its strongest programs in the U.S. is our local school system.

IB is a non-profit educational foundation offering four highly respected programs of international education that develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. IB schools in America encompass public, private, parochial, magnet and charter schools. They are found in urban, suburban and rural America, and include the U.S. Department of Defense schools.

Nearly 5,000 schools around the world offer IB, including ones in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Nearly 1,500 educators from around the world traveled to Toronto to participate in the International Baccalaureate Conference of the Americas; it was the largest gathering of IB educators in the world. There were many breakout sessions were they were able to collaborate and learn from each other.
For students, success in the IB often results in advanced standing, course credit, scholarships, and other admissions related benefits at many universities. That’s good news for parents like me, who are thinking through strategies for funding college.

Dr. Siva Kumari, IB’s Director General, said the following at a recent conference of IB teachers and coordinators from around the world in regards to recent tragedies: “The enemies of international-mindedness are themselves a global phenomenon, and are making full use of globalization’s technologies. Such developments demonstrate how necessary international-mindedness is, in a world which is becoming ever more global without growing ever closer together.”

The research about IB is very compelling. A study by the State of Texas Education Research Center at Texas A&M University found positive outcomes from its elementary school program including teacher’s instructional practice, increased teacher collaboration, authentic assessment, increased student motivation for learning, the development of critical thinking skills, and increased student global and cultural awareness.

Another recent study by the University of Chicago showed that Diploma Programme students are 40 percent more likely to attend a four-year college, 50 percent more likely to attend a more selective college, and significantly more likely to persist in four-year colleges for at least two years, compared to similar students who did not enroll in the IB Diploma Programme.

I’m especially inspired by Kristin Waites’ story, a recent IB grad:

“This sense of worldliness is what gives me the urge to travel, and not just as a tourist. It gives me the urge to learn about other cultures, and to participate in them as fully as I can. This is one of the most central parts of my personality, and it came from my experiences being exposed to this kind of open attitude about the world.”

It gives me a tremendous sense of hope to know that my daughter and her peers will have the opportunity to learn in an environment that embraces a global perspective and approach to education as the norm and not the exception.