Global Competence

Harvard Researcher Prof Ron Ritchhart, a former Aussie teacher who has piloted the internationally acclaimed, Cultures of Thinking, project recently visited Adelaide to present to independent schools boards and executives about the future demands on schooling. He framed eight key areas of School life that need to go beyond what they do now and embrace new thinking and action. One of those ‘beyonds’ was Global Competence.

The growing global interdependence that characterises our time calls for a generation of individuals who can engage in effective global problem solving and participate simultaneously in local, national and global civic life. Put simply, preparing our students to participate fully in today’s and tomorrow’s world demands that we nurture their global competence.

Veronica Boix-Mansilla and Tony Jackson, Educating for a Global Competence (2011).

This must be an outcome for all young people not the sector of kids who are studying a language or focusing on cultural studies in Geography. And it not just left to that subset of teachers whose bread and butter work is in languages or the humanities. This is a school wide responsibility- St John’s needs to create learning opportunities in and outside the timetable that build global competence for all our young stars.

Ritchhart went on to describe four domains of Global Competence. Without getting too deep into definitions and explanations, being a globally competent learner means a lot more than awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity. Students need to not only investigate their world and recognise perspectives but they also need to communicate their ideas to a diverse audience and translate these ideas into appropriate actions to improve conditions.

At St John’s there is so much to be proud in our quest to build Global Competence. An audit of our curricula reveals so many learning steeped in cultural understanding and creating key insights into what shapes our social and political world. Apart from the Humanities and Languages, there is such international presence in subjects like Art, the Performing Arts, RAVE and Food technology.

This week we share our school with our Japanese friends from Yasufuruichi High School in Hiroshima. 16 students are enjoying being looked after by families from our school and engaging with school life with their new Australian buddies. This sister school relationship has flourished over several years with our next visit scheduled for September next year. Our Year 9 adventurers returned recently from Vietnam, having spent two weeks immersed in a variety of experiences and service related activities. Working with the street KOTO kids, building a house for a needy family and raising much needed funds for an Orphanage were highlights. The recent partnership with the BCU School in Kalimantan, Indonesia creating further opportunities for our students to attend an environmental conference with other students from around the world, work in the school and within the BOSS Orangutan mission is worth celebrating.

Richard Anderson, Catherine Emmerson, visiting English Teacher from Yasafuruichi High School, Sanae Mishima and Felicity Newton

Next year we look to have 40 International students from China study across all three campuses, fully integrated into school life. We celebrate our cultural diversity and mission for inclusivity and understanding on Thursday this week (Cultural Sharing Day). Two exchange students from France and Brazil started on the Secondary Campus this term. On top of this so much action from the AWARE and House leaders have focussed on making a difference for those in need who live in other parts of the world. AWARE students have set a goal of raising $5000 in the 40 Hour World Vision Backpack challenge coming up in a couple of weeks. Guest presenters, Chapel services and Assembly items continually put global issues at the forefront of everyone’s thinking.

We seek to do more, particular with that quadrant of global competence that demands our students take corrective actions on a global scale. It is a mighty goal – but the sort of quest that St John’s is about!

Richard Anderson

Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School