How politics inspire student engagement
Good international schools develop and foster independent thinkers who are increasingly challenging current norms. In our political session during the ISC Research Edruptors Conference in July, educators and international school alumni discussed how they are taking action to support diversity, equality, inclusion and justice (DEIJ).
You can view a soundbite of this insightful session on our YouTube channel. It includes inspirational advice for international schools wanting to develop and implement a schoolwide ethos around DEIJ, encouraging positive change.
This Edruptors panel session, which was hosted by Janelle Torres, South East Asia field-based researcher at ISC Research, was full of thought-provoking messages from an inspiring panel who have founded organisations already making DEIJ change.
Polly Akhurst, Co-founder and Co-Executive Director of Amala, spoke about Amala’s development of the first international high school diploma designed for, and with, refugees. She emphasised the shocking statistic that only “one in three refugees have access to secondary education and 3% have access to higher education”. Polly also shared important advice for organisations and schools wanting to support initiatives. “Think creatively and holistically about different ways you can contribute,” she said. “How can you use your position and power responsibly to make a difference and what skills can you bring to the table?”.
Kevin Simpson, Founder of the Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC), discussed some of the ways schools can encourage change. “[Be] committed to learning about each other and our identities,” he said. “What [are] schools going to do as a result of these conversations, to make sure our school ecosystem is moving and growing?” Kevin advised schools to look at their curriculum and literature and critically ask whether it is being taught from a global angle or from just one voice.
Kevin recommended international schools do an audit and pose themselves some tough questions, such as: “how does our curriculum embed social justice within all content areas and focus on responsibility, respect and tolerance”.
Kotoha Kudo, Co-Founder of Reset Revolution and an international school alumnus, highlighted the importance of student voice and the need for international schools to allow their students a platform to share their thoughts. Kotoha suggested that many international school students feel disillusioned by their school’s moto. “Schools need to make sure they have a policy, but also make sure they listen and be proactive, making change at a structural and policy level,” she said.
Anna Clara Reynolds, Co-Founder of the Organisation to Decolonise International Schools and another international school alumnus, delivered an important message to international school leaders and educators: “Students are the ones you’re serving, so empower and listen to them, give students the space to share their voices and make it more clear students can make a change”.
For more informative highlights from the conference, look out in the September and forthcoming issues of International School Leader Magazine. And for more valuable discussions, we hope to see you at our forthcoming webinars or at next year’s Edruptors Conference in July 2022. Keep an eye on all ISC Research events here.