International schools are the gaining a lot of importance now and parents are willing to enrol their children to schools with international curriculum. Though the international schools originated in early 1920s, they’ve seen rapid growth in last two decades. The concept of such schools was to primarily ensure that children of expatriates and diplomats could get a “global” curriculum while staying in far-flung places. However, today, the international schools mostly have children of affluent families who aspire to get admissions in western colleges.
To know more about this trend stoodnt.com got in touch with Ian Davies – Head of Garodia International Centre for Learning, Mumbai (GICLM).
Following is an excerpt of the interview –
Q) Why international schools are the gaining so much importance? What is the importance of International curriculums?
A) Simply because of 3 reasons:
- An international education provides more opportunities for students worldwide, whilst maintaining opportunities in India, to enter top quality universities. That means that future career potentials are increased.
- The style of an international education is an active kind of learning which engages students, moves beyond simple rote memory of facts, challenges students to solve practical problems using their knowledge and skills, develops critical thinking and has a strong emphasis on communication skills and language learning like Mandarin (crucial in the world today).
- Such environments are attractive to teachers also to work in and so some of the very best practitioners want to experience good facilities and advanced curriculums to further their own career. So, often we find a great teaching cohort in such schools.
Q) How has it created an impact so far?
A) Students have entered top institutions and gained first class degrees followed by post graduate study. They have become well known internationally. This in turn has brought back to India some of the world’s latest ideas and skills to enhance the Indian workforce and economy. So, such an education actually improves opportunities for everyone in India.
Indian skills, technology and ideas are becoming highly valued in the world as they can relate exactly to international standards and expectations.
We have been able to offer scholarships to open up such opportunities for all students to receive such an education.
Q) How are the students going to be benefited by enrolling in international schools?
A) Students have entered top institutions and gained first class degrees followed by post graduate study. They have become well known internationally. Which has indirectly helped India its workforce and economy to grow with ample opportunities for everyone in Indian and International markets.
Q) Garodia International Centre for Learning, Mumbai is the first International School in the county which is going to have Lego Innovation Lab – What was the idea behind the lab? What is the importance of Lego Learning?
A) Lego is more than just a toy. Lego has always had a ‘social conscience’ and belief that a future can be built where ‘learning through play’ empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. This fits beautifully into our school philosophy at Garodia International Centre for Learning, Mumbai (GICLM), where we emphasise active learning as the route by which our students develop critical thinking, take control of their own learning and enhance social skills through a ‘values based’ education that enables our high achievers to become globally responsible citizens. Even more, they become genuine leaders. So, the decision to build the only Lego Innovation Laboratory in India at our school, was an easy one. Not only does it enrich our curriculum through making our Science STEAM programme realistic by dealing with exciting practical experiments, but its carefully crafted experiential learning develops over time a personal skills framework that ‘promotes a child’s drive to learn, their ability to imagine alternatives and to connect with their surroundings in a positive way’.
Our Lego Laboratory offers a safe environment where students are challenged to make connections from their learning in all subjects (Yes, English, languages, writing and social sciences, for example, are also part of the experience with a strong emphasis on communication skills). As students respond to problems set through the activities, they connect concepts and skills, applying their knowledge and even sparking new ideas.
Our investment in a Lego Innovation Laboratory is seen as an investment in our learning and ultimately therefore in our students. Meaningful, socially interactive engaging experiences give us power as teachers as our students experience genuine success. This is probably even more important to Pre-School and Primary students but it is equally as effective with older learners. At the end of the day it is seeing the smiles on the faces of the students alongside their continual requests whether they can go and ‘learn with lego’ that makes our day. Because, we know that they are giving themselves an advantage in their own futures. And, that is what we strive to achieve as educators.
Q) What is special about the faculty of international schools? What do they look for in a candidate while recruiting teachers?
A) They bring a diversity of ideas, experiences and skills that our students and staff will benefit from. BUT, this is not to devalue the superb teachers and schools in India. Rather that we are reflecting the modern world where the ability to work in diverse situations is essential. A simple example is that you can hear English, Mandarin, French being spoken by a native speaker.
We look for teachers who have the skills to add something different and new to our school, people who are flexible and are coming with the best intentions to learn about, respect the culture and values of the host country. Their characters need to be ones of people who work in teams, value diversity and want to give something to other people. This means that they understand and appreciate the high ethical standards that we expect within our community and that they will be good role models at the same time. And that is before even looking at their academic qualities. We look for high achievers who have a history of success. Or if they are young, then the obvious potential for growth. We look for teachers who are simply passionate about learning, wish to keep growing as a professional and enjoy working with youngsters to help them achieve their dreams.
Q) What makes Garodia International Centre for learning Mumbai the ideal international school?
A) This reflects the institution that we have established. We have a really happy and high achieving student body, supportive and thoughtful parents, and an inspirational staff who care about their students and due to the vision of the Foundation amazing facilities to learn in. Our high aspirations are transforming everyone in the community. There is a real ‘buzz’ as you enter the school.
Q) How do collaborations with global institutes help today’s learners?
A) We take seriously our responsibility to ensure that our graduates have continued opportunities. The association with Broward allows students and parents to choose a top-quality degree course on our premises. This means that they have more time in a supported environment to develop the skills necessary to live abroad. It is also an amazing financial opportunity allowing such study here in India with a guaranteed entry overseas.
With Winchester we are members of an elite organisation of international schools that meet annually to provide opportunities for our students to engage with world figures and academics for a period of study and discussion. So it is not just mixing with students from other countries and building an amazing network, but it is a commitment to discuss key issues in the world and write an Accord that is presented to governments for consideration. This year we are honoured to be holding the Symposium here at GICLM. It will be a real newsworthy event as the discussion unfolds.
NUS have supplied opportunities for talented teachers to come and work here in Garodia. The potentials this offers is illustrated in previous comments.