Tensions in developing international mindedness in international Baccalaureate schools

2017-02-23T00:30:58Z (GMT) by Poonoosamy, Mico Kevin
This thesis aimed to investigate how international mindedness is developed by adolescent learners at the school level, in order to develop new knowledge and understanding of this process. The research focused on students studying the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) in two schools, in Australia and in an Indian Ocean Island Nation (a pseudonym used for de-identifying reasons). The study investigated the students’ understandings and experiences of international mindedness, the tensions they experienced in developing it, and the formation of their identities as part of this process. Schools worldwide are increasingly interested in internationalisation and how learners develop international mindedness, with a sense of connectedness with the local and the wider global world. But there has been a dearth of grounded research on international education at the school level which focuses on the ways students develop a sense of international mindedness within an international curriculum like the IBDP, as well as through their broader schooling experiences in different contexts. The literature review found that international mindedness is a highly valued commodity as well as a determining philosophical leitmotiv on the international education agenda. The two school case studies in this thesis were analysed through a socio-cultural lens, and learners’ development of international mindedness was explored through their sense of being, belonging and becoming. First, IB students from two schools in Australia and Indian Ocean Island Nation were surveyed to their perceptions of international mindedness across different socio-cultural and historical contexts. Second, students from the two schools were interviewed to develop insights into their individual experiences of developing international mindedness. The findings from the survey and case studies provided evidence that students’ background, family upbringing, the socio-cultural contexts of the schools, the school ethos and enacted IBDP curriculum are important factors and forces that shape students’ sense of international mindedness in varied ways. The study found that students experience significant tensions in their development of international mindedness in the IBDP programme and in their sense of identification with the cultures and knowledges of the host school and nation. Students have a highly personal and individual understanding of international mindedness because of the uniqueness of their experiences. The study concluded that the development of international mindedness is a complex and multi-faceted experience that is significantly influenced by context. It found that students require further opportunities for developing their understanding of their local communities and the wider world within their studies, so they can develop the intercultural and global competencies and sense of personal identity that are so central to international mindedness in the 21st century.