International, Intercultural, Interlingual – mapping out the Dreiländereck that is international education

I work in an educational world that is defined by the intersection of three different spaces: the international, the intercultural and the interlingual. It makes for an interesting environment. Living in an area of land that is often called the Dreiländereck (where Germany, Switzerland and France meet), the use of three terms to define this educational world seems entirely appropriate. In the same way that my school is made up of students of different countries, cultures and languages, so too is the geography of the Dreiländereck.

The application of the international, the intercultural and the interlingual into a teaching and learning environment can be challenging for those within it. The interactions between one’s sense of self and the national identities of those one teaches can prompt useful, in-depth discussions about teaching and learning. The same interactions can also contribute to points of friction or tension. Cultures collide in the staff room about what constitutes pedagogical ‘best practice’.

For me, this post is a starting point for a discussion about internationalism and education. Over the coming weeks I want to look at the ideas of international, intercultural and interlingual, all of which appear to be central to understanding what internationalism as it applies to education is about. So, with that in mind, and to bring this post to a close, here are some short, tentative definitions that might be used as a springboard for what is to come:

  • International – the basis for a comprehensive approach to education that intentionally prepares students to be active and engaged participants in an interconnected world.
  • Intercultural – an approach to education that seeks to develop student intercultural competence, which is the ability to act and relate appropriately and effectively in a variety of cultural contexts.
  • Interlingual – an inclusive teaching and learning approach that supports all languages and cultures present within the school by fostering an environment whereby all students are open and responsive to respecting and learning about other languages.

By way of an introduction

 

At the time, I suspect many people thought it was one of the most ridiculous decisions I have ever made. In fact, I’m pretty sure some people thought it was downright stupid. I had willingly put myself into a situation whereby I was completing my PhD at the same time as changing jobs and moving my family of five to a different country.

Such was my passion for teaching and learning, and in particular for working in international education, that the absurdity of making the decision to move when I was in the final stages of my doctoral studies made me barely raise an eyebrow.

Fast forward two years into the future and here I am, living in Germany, with my family, PhD completed and awarded, fulfilling the role of Director of Student Learning and Head Principal of an international school. My role entails not only overseeing all the academic programs of the school but also the operations of three campuses, and leading the strategic planning process to make the school a better place for learning; to be the school’s ‘lead learner’, as it were.

Formative assessment, deep learning pedagogies, alternative credentials, technology accelerating learning are some of the topics that might be covered in this blog. They are certainly relevant to me and my own context, at this point in time and are definitely topics that have a wider application to teaching and learning in general. I am sure there will be other things covered as well.

So, my intent with the posts to this blog is to reflect on teaching and learning and to contribute in a meaningful way to the discourse about learning, and the discussions about the changes taking place in realm of teaching and learning. International education will be a particular focus but not the only one. So, thank you for stopping by this particular quiet backwater of the blogosphere. I hope you will continue to come back and see where and how this blog ends up.