Fulfilling Its Mission? International Mindedness in IB DP Programmes
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In today’s increasingly interconnected world, it has never been more imperative for American schools to incorporate global education into their curriculum. As we prepare students for their future roles as global citizens who must confront a whole host of new challenges, it is critical that our students understand other cultures and people and respect and acknowledge divergent perspectives. Educational reform that encompasses the infusion of global education into the K-16 education system is vital to the health and success of the 21st century global community. Today’s schools have a mandate to educate students to be respectful, responsible global citizens and to participate in the global economy. One of the tenets of the International Baccalaureate program is “the promotion of international mindedness.” It is well researched and documented that International Baccalaureate programs are strongly correlated with high academic achievement (Cambridge, 2008; Duevel, 1999). At question is the IB assertion that their curriculum “promotes international mindedness” among its students, which is a truly critical element in today’s globalized world. Arguably, a more globally aware student will be better prepared for the 21st century global challenges. Further research into the depth and breadth in which the international baccalaureate truly fosters “international mindedness” among its students is necessary to determine the role it should and will play in future global education reform. This study seeks to answer two questions. The researcher seeks to determine if teachers in IB Diploma Programmes are integrating global themes and international mindededness in their classrooms, and the degree to which the promotion of international mindedness has been institutionalized within the school community. The qualitative study, which began with a pilot study that was a survey, consisted of interviews, facilitated group discussions, and document analysis. The survey research, which was conducted as part of an IB DP workshop, served as a pilot study and provided a variety of insights that informed me of the need for qualitative data collection. Using the survey information as a foundation, I then conducted interviews and group discussions in order to deepen and enrich my data. In addition, I reviewed IBO literature and other related documents such as their “Learner Profile” and “DP Curriculum Hexagon.” The triangulation of data provided a comprehensive analysis of the research question and rendered a fascinating exploration of international mindedness within the IB DP curriculum. The results of the study indicated that teachers and administrators had an understanding of what international mindedness was; however, when it came to a discussion of implementation within their schools, it was clear that most schools were implementing in a superficial way. The data suggest that teachers and administrators are not entirely clear as to how to infuse international themes into their classes and schools. Additionally, the IBO’s conceptualization of IM is not thoroughly defined for partner schools, teachers, and administrators; and there exists little institutional accountability for the implementation of international mindedness.