All of us, whether we are a pupil, a parent or a member of staff, are living in a time of hugely rapid change. Our world is moving faster and drawing more closely together than at any point in our shared history. Through the use of ever more impressive digital technologies, we are sharing our thoughts, ideas, hopes, fears and dreams across an increasingly widening global community.
At Wellington, our aim is to ensure that every pupil and teacher adopts what we have taken to calling a 'global mindset.' While that may sound like quite a broad concept, it essentially boils down to three things. To successfully become a global citizen with a global mindset, you only need to have:
1. an awareness that you are part of an interconnected world culture,
2. a genuine curiosity to learn as much as you can from different world cultures and perspectives,
3. an acceptance of your responsibility to be a good global citizen and bring positive change into the world.
Global awareness: Never closing yourself off
Naturally, we’re all aware that we’re part of a wider world – multiculturalism is bred into the very fabric of Wellington College, and rightly so. However, we aren’t simply talking about an awareness of the ‘other’; it’s not just about encountering a foreign culture and wanting to learn a few words of their language, important though these things are.
Having global awareness means achieving a deep understanding of our place within a global community and shared environment. It’s about realising that the major problems encountered in the world are shared ones, as are the necessary solutions to solving them. Finally, it’s about understanding the nature of our actions and their consequences – positive and negative – on the wider world.
Sustainability is a key example of a shared global problem which we can all play a part in solving. This year, the Prep School pupils have already done exceptionally well in continuing the great work started last academic year in raising Wellington’s awareness and capacity for recycling. Expanding from their stellar paper recycling efforts, the pupils (led by the prefect team) have moved into reusing as well as recycling plastics and cardboard too. Inspiration stations are being put in place around the college as we speak, for the collection of everyday waste items to be used in art displays and in other reuse/recycle formats.
Global curiosity: Always being open to new ideas
Throughout Upper and Lower Prep, our teachers are constantly looking for ways to bring different perspectives from around the world into their lessons. To take English as an example, we’re making sure that we keep introducing pupils to authors, stories, poetry and other forms of literature drawn widely from different regions, cultures and viewpoints, rather than rigidly sticking to our own.
You might think that this concept doesn’t apply to less abstract subjects like maths or science. Admittedly, a chemical formula will be the same whether you happen to learn it in Shanghai, Salisbury or Santiago! However, global curiosity plays an important role here too, since many of the greatest practitioners of maths and science were heavily influenced by the circumstances of their cultural upbringing, influencing their path towards the theories and methodologies that they created. Equally important is the curiosity to discover how the solutions offered by science and maths can be applied to solve specific problems and challenges in different parts of the world.
By combining our global awareness and curiosity, pupils are exposed to a much broader view of their subjects and learning experiences. Every week, every term, every year, they are looking at the world through a wider lens, questioning everything and considering ideas no matter where they come from. Hopefully these experiences will make them more receptive to more of the same throughout the rest of their school career and indeed the rest of their lives.
Global responsibility: Making positive change happen
It’s great to think about the wider world and learn all you can from it. However, if you want to make the world a better place, then you have to start making changes wherever you happen to be. All of us have a responsibility to actively try and bring this kind of positive change into being. At Wellington, we want to constantly be giving both pupils and teachers the inspiration and opportunity to make their world better.
I’ve already mentioned our pupils’ ongoing efforts to make the college greener. Our emphasis on promoting leadership is another example of how pupils are being encouraged to understand and accept their global responsibility. Our Head of College, Head girl and boy, Heads of House, deputies, prefects and ambassadors are already forging closer links between the Prep and Senior Schools to pool their experience and ideas to come up with even more exciting and impactful ways to improve their College, their community and the wider world.
This concept goes beyond the taking on of formal leadership positions, however. We want all of our pupils to be global citizens, which means that we want them to all be responsible for coming up with ideas for positive change and then carrying them out.
Global citizenship is a mindset, rather than a one-off project
In everything we do at Wellington, we want our pupils to leave the College prepared for the wider world with the skills and characteristics that they will need. Empathy, humility, openness, critical thinking, these will be as important as their knowledge of maths, geography, science, music and all manner of subjects.
It is hugely exciting to think that the pupils receiving their education today will be the society creators of tomorrow. They will have a concrete stake in shaping its future. They will be its leaders, its decision makers in business, culture, politics, economics and more. By giving them the chance to achieve a global mindset early, and reinforce it repeatedly throughout their school career, we will hopefully help them get ready for their sizeable role that comes afterwards.
Mr. Andrew Willis is the Head of Prep School at Wellington College International Shanghai.
[All images via Wellington College International Shanghai]
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