Oropi School principal Andrew King writes about how Oropi School has developed an intercultural strategy that includes learning for global competence.
How we developed our intercultural strategy
We began by unpacking the purpose for our intercultural strategy with staff, parents and students. For Oropi this meant exploring the concept of global competence, the role of language learning, the development of a locally grounded curriculum and a lot of professional dialogue and reading. It was important to know what global competence is, as well as what it is not.
Choosing a context for our intercultural learning came next. A key finding from research is that establishing and growing an intercultural strategy involves ensuring that we are not just learning about other cultures, but that curriculum delivery enables students to learn with, from and about other cultures. Context is really important to enable this. As a school, we had established links with people and schools in China and Korea. With New Zealand and Tauranga’s growing social and economic ties to Asia, it made sense for this to be our context for cross-cultural learning opportunities.
It was also important to identify ‘champions’ to lead Oropi School's intercultural learning strategy. Growing the intercultural dimension of a school curriculum cannot be done with a top down approach. It has been valuable to gain support from community members who can intrinsically see the motivation, purpose and mutual benefit for all involved.
Integrating global competence into our intercultural strategy
As we moved to implement our redeveloped intercultural strategy, we established our own descriptors for global competence. These descriptors were mapped out over a strategic cycle and timeframe. What we came up with was a culmination of thoughts that were based on professional readings, the OECD Global Competence Framework, Intercultural Capabilities and Cultural Diversity Curriculum Principles. These ideas included:
Being an active and engaged ‘change agent’ in global contexts
Making post-school learning and work choices in a global context
Examining local, global and intercultural issues
Understanding and appreciating the perspectives and world views of others
Engaging in open, appropriate and effective interactions across cultures
Taking action for collective wellbeing and sustainable development.
Other key topics that we used to bring global competence to the forefront of our intercultural strategy were:
cultural bias and perceptions
equity versus equality
media portrayals of culture
Identifying desired outcomes
Developing our intercultural strategy has given us a clear idea of the learning outcomes we want to achieve for our students. This has meant that we can continue our existing intercultural learning activities with greater clarity of purpose. It has also given us a very clear idea about the type of collaboration we wanted to achieve in our work with teachers and students in the Hangzhou Sister School Partnership Programme.
Hangzhou Sister School Partnership
We recently took the opportunity to invest in the Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence Hangzhou Sister School Partnership as a way to grow our intercultural strategy. We wanted to move beyond another sister school partnership where the formalities of gift exchanges, signed papers and good intent did not eventuate into a collaborative project. We wanted to achieve a more genuine and meaningful partnership.
As a school, we did quite a lot of thinking before we embarked on this new sister school project, which shifted our understanding and mindset. We were lucky that the Hangzhou initiative presented itself at a time where the Oropi School community was ready to ‘think outside the square’. This became the impetus for our intercultural strategy to include learning for global competence.