My grandmother used to gather us in the evening besides her to tell us her routine stories and ideologies. One such evening, she introduced us to the concept of ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’. Vasudeva Kutumbakam is a concept from the ancient Upanishads that talks about how we see the world as one place and its members as our family. Years later as an IB educator when I was introduced to the ideology of international mindedness, it did not take me much time to understand its relevance and importance as an essential 21st century thought process.
Yes, we live in an interconnected world. The internet has connected us, the art has connected us, the food has connected us, the music has connected us, and the fabric has connected us. The bridges between countries are diminishing. We can enjoy Japanese food in India, and at the same time visit the Darbar festival of Music in the United Kingdom. Government institutions and even private organizations have understood the value of having a global workforce and a global community. Keeping in mind the evolving scenarios, it is critical to evaluate our learnings and implement the best for the classrooms that raise the next generation of kids.
The IB curriculum very prominently discusses international-mindedness as one of its strong pillars. Not only does it talk about it, but it also gives us an insight as to how we can develop this thought process in our future minds. At its core, applying international-mindedness in IB directs us to view the world in which people see themselves as connected to the global community and assume a sense of responsibility to the members of the community.
International mindedness is developed through two spheres:
Multilingualism and intercultural understanding
The ideologies and values it lays down, help us to see the world through a much broader lens. It helps us to respect and understand other perspectives, cultures, and languages. More importantly, it develops the ability to see oneself as a responsible global citizen.
Often there is an ambiguity in the meaning of intercultural understanding or even the word ‘culture.’ Well, we all agree that culture influences not only our thinking but also our actions. To some extent, the confusion revolving around culture is true because culture is like an iceberg -It’s more than what meets the eye. A holistic international-minded growth is only possible through an interconnection of the head (be informed)-heart (be moved) and hands (be involved). It is our understanding that helps us develop our attitudes and thereby catering to the skills we develop.
In the IB curriculum, the heuristic nature of the learner profile attributes helps us to achieve this. Clubbed with sustained inquiry it helps us to think about problems in multiple dimensions- locally, nationally, and globally. Yes, going global without going anywhere. The IB students are encouraged to think global and act local.
If we further delve into the possibilities to nurture international mindedness, then it starts with the school philosophy and values. The educational institutes that believe in the concept, transfer it easily to the learners. The governance and the management of institutions have a vital role to play in this in terms of resources and encouragement of intercultural avenues. At a classroom level, sustained inquiry practice and service-learning are excellent possibilities to give students an opportunity to develop empathy and understanding. In short, the curriculum should act as a window to facilitate global concepts, make intercultural connections, and encourage local yet global action.
Well, my grandmother was right in her way saying that the world is one and its members are our family. As I like to see it, international mindedness is nothing but a thought process that helps me see, understand, and respect the world and its varied cultures. Starting with building strong foundations of my culture yet being open-minded, inquisitive, respectful, and caring to another.
Authors Short Biography:
Vaishak M Raj is a dance facilitator and has been working in the performing arts department at DPS International Gurgaon engaging both the MYP and PYP students to develop their artistic voices and choice. He has been the creative head for the British Council’s project ‘Imperfect Circle’ and has also won numerous scholarships and grants for his meritorious services in dance.