SW France – creating global citizens highlights why the changes and upheaval in recent years mean that developing understanding and tolerance is more vital than ever. How can we prepare today’s children for what is to come, and give them the best chance to live a good life in the world of tomorrow?
Natalie Stuart, Coordinator of Orientation & Communications, Bordeaux International School, explains.
“The highest result of education is tolerance” said Helen Keller. She was the first American author and lecturer and the first deaf-blind person to earn a BA degree.
Human beings are biologically, physiologically and emotionally evolved to be social, community-based creatures. The health benefits of bilingualism are supported by numerous scientific studies: it promotes everything from mental agility to the delaying or even avoidance of Alzheimer’s! That’s why the message in SW France – creating global citizens is so important.
The need to connect
In our world of social media and digital lives, loneliness and disconnection from the local community have become as damaging to one’s health as obesity or smoking.
“Real” human social connectedness builds trust, cooperation and a sense of belonging. It limits anxiety, depression, stress, and antisocial behaviour. Bilingualism facilitates this connectedness, and is a clear way of rediscovering the sense of community that we are in danger of losing.
Language is much more than just a way to communicate: it teaches culture, behaviour, ways of thinking, tolerance, and tradition. Bilingualism is an important bridge to international communication and understanding. Learning another language and living alongside members of different cultures develops a more informed perspective on historical and contemporary topics, the capacity for conflict resolution, and promotes active listening.
Images below left to right: Nathalie Stuart, SW France – creating global citizens, Bilingual education is so important
A global outlook
Global mindedness can be defined as “a view of the world in which people see themselves connected to the global community and assume a sense of responsibility to its members”. To achieve this it must be lived in the ethos, values and daily life of a school.
Teachers from various cultures and languages are extremely important, as is a regular review of the curriculum in order to meet the needs of an evolving student body.
In encouraging young people to be active, not passive, we can foster a desire to leave the world better than they found it. Students need more than ‘token travel’. Genuine engagement with different communities follows ‘lived experiences’. For example, partnerships, such as the one we have with a francophone school in Senegal enables us to learn from them and them from us. Bilingualism facilitates this learning relationship.
How can we aid the formation of identity? It is problematic to rely on notions of “we are all the same”. Embracing difference encourages pupils to reflect upon their relationships, and what language, culture and nationality means for their identity and its intersectionality with the global community.
As enriching as the international community can be, and as many advantages as it can bring, the concept of “third culture children” requires attention. Families in transition can suffer from “transition fatigue”, and need support integrating into their new society. This can be daunting for children and teenagers already dealing with issues of identity, development and belonging. They may wish to protect themselves from more loss, and initially have trouble making connections: they need a forum for communication. A “buddy” and extra language support are two measures that can really help a child find their feet in their new school.
Global citizenship: the ability to flourish within a globalised world, whilst respecting the key issues of our time, and those of the future. Achieving a bilingual education is an excellent step along this path.
First published in the May/June 2019 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Shutterstock and Bordeaux International School
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