03 SES 05 A, Systemic Curriculum Reform
The growth of international curricula and schooling has emerged in tandem with globalisation and is often conceptualised as a necessary construct to enable global interconnections and transformations within political, economic, social and cultural fields (Maringe, Foskett, & Woodfield, 2013; Bates, 2012). According to Steger (2008), “global” has become central to the explanation of humans’ thought and actions within this rapidly evolving world, with globalisation emerging as current social imaginary of how “we both interpret and imagine the possibilities of our lives” (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. 23). This process has moved forward the internationalisation of education agenda (Blackmore, Arber, & Vongalis- Macrow, 2014; Fielding & Vidovich, 2017; Rizvi, 2015).
Amidst the dynamic globalisation landscape, typified by greater mobility and interconnectedness, the internationalisation of education had been enhanced in many countries across the globe (Ledger, Vidovich, & O’Donoghue, 2015; Bates, 2011). The focus is on equipping students with the necessary knowledge and skills for the 21st century “global knowledge society” (Fielding & Vidovich, 2017, p. 3). This focus has a direct correlation to the rise of international education and curricula, where global citizenship education (GCE) is one of the key markers in schools’ responses towards providing an internationally minded curriculum.
In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of international schools across the world that cater to local populations, those interested in adopting what is perceived as “international best practice” (Stobie, 2016, p. 53). These are either international or even independent and state schools keen to adopt an internationally minded curriculum, which they feel would benefit their students (Stobie, 2016). Bunnell (2016) stated that conflicting and debatable discussion exists on defining what international schools stand for and the type of education they offer. What has been clear though is that there exist a number of schools worldwide that identify themselves as international in nature, by virtue of them adopting an international curricula model such as International Baccalaureate or International Primary Curriculum (IPC) curriculum or through emphasis on students’ global mindedness pursued through the schools’ curriculum and other practices.
For schools in Europe, which are facing mass migration, one of the key challenges is catering to such a diversified population and allowing for different groups to co-exist harmoniously with a common sense of identity. Adoption of an internationally minded curriculum is aligned with the practices of international schools and providers, which have faced myriad issues catering to diverse school populations (Hayden & Thompson, 2016). As a result, numerous schools in the United Kingdom, United States (US), Australia & Singapore, have crafted school mission statements that cite the use of ‘cosmopolitanism’ or ‘global citizenship’ and have moved towards adopting a more internationally minded curriculum (Schattle, 2008).
This paper focuses on a comparative analysis of how two schools, an international school in Singapore and an independent school in Australia have engaged in the processes of internationalisation of their education through the adoption of international education models, utilising the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) or the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB) and other local curricula to generate hybrid internationally minded education programs, with a focus on GCE.
Drawing on various theoretical resources on global education, global citizenship education, international education, as well as theories of post-multiculturalism, this research sought to investigate how each case study school responded to the concept of internationalisation through their curriculum. The broad overarching research question framing this study is: How have schools, with an internationally-minded focus, responded through the curriculum (IPC and IB respectively) to the impact of globalisation and the attempt to produce global citizens? The research specifically investigated how each case study school has responded to the concept of GCE through their curriculum (IPC and IB).
The study examined the factors that enabled the take-up of GCE in the curricula, practices and the culture of the two case study schools. It adopts a qualitative approach to construct the two case studies. A collective case study approach has been used, which involves ‘studying multiple cases simultaneously or sequentially in an attempt to generate a broader appreciation of a particular issue’ (Crowe et al., 2011, p. 2). For this particular study, the design type has been adapted from Yin’s (2014) model of a single case design and a multiple case design and is a hybrid model. The cross case analysis starts with theory development, rooted in GCE models presented by Oxley and Morris (2013) and Veugelers (2011). It then progresses to the case selection and definition of specific measures in the design and data collection process. All three theories propose the examination of the theoretical and temporal assumptions for global citizenship education set against the demographic context of super-diversity. For this particular study, five strategies were used to ensure that comprehensive and robust data formed the basis of the analysis. These included an extensive literature review, data from the semi-structured interviews, observation notes from the fieldwork and analysis of school policy and strategic planning documents, curricula materials and syllabus, and school website analysis. Qualitative data from interview transcripts, document analysis, website analysis as well as field notes were analysed both inductively and deductively, teasing out the key themes from interviews, various documents such as policy papers, curriculum materials, syllabuses, the websites and other forms of documents that shed more light on the issues presented. The analysis of each case study began with a brief overview of the global citizenship education policies in the two schools and of their international curricula models, followed by a separate interpretation and juxtaposition of interview data (Phillips & Schweisfurth, 2014).
The findings indicate that although various factors within the specific contexts of schools, such as curriculum and resources, school culture, school leaders’ and teachers’ values play an equally important role in determining and moulding how schools engage with GCE in their quest towards internationalisation, there were tensions between educational domains and neo-liberal market rationales, which had affected the schools’ decisions in curricula and GCE enactment within both schools. Both schools were committed to academic excellence, but were also mindful about being distinctive and remaining competitive within their respective education markets. As evidenced from both schools, there was the need to balance the idealist and educationalist ideologies with the instrumentalism- typified as being market focused (Stier, 2004). These ideologies, which are embedded within educational discourse on internationalisation, have significantly influenced and influenced policy-makers’ and educators’ understandings and approaches towards internationalisation. The global focus of the respective school’s curricula was linked at one level to their overt positioning in their respective school markets. A distinct market ideology formed the basis of the development of the curriculum in both case study schools. For the school in Singapore, Daily Mandarin and Singapore Math curriculum were not only curricula initiatives that balanced the local and the global, but they were clearly also marketing strategies to make the school more distinctive to its potential clientele within its specific Singaporean and global contexts as an international school. As for the school in Australia, the adoption of the IB (PYP) curricula itself and the learning of Japanese language were strategic moves for the school to remain distinctive set against its competitive comparable schools. An internationally minded curriculum was deemed to enhance the market advantage for both the schools and student graduates, enabling the schools to establish a distinctive position within local and global education markets (Vidovich, 2004; Walker, 2016).
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