The November issue of the International Schools Journal featured an article by Stefanos Gialamas, President of the American School of Athens and his colleague Peggy Pelonis that focused on the increased competition students face as the world continues to shrink and the unique role that international schools can play in preparing “young people to cope with and to be productive members of an increasingly global society.” For Gialamas and Pelonis providing an internationally minded education is a moral and ethical question for many international schools whose enrollments are often limited to privileged students.
Their article discusses the challenge and responsibility of making quality international education and the opportunities that it provides available to all children and offers some concrete examples of how that might be done.
Dr. Gialamas, who I know personally through his active participation with MSA and is a friend, believes fervently in the role that education can play in producing tomorrow’s leaders and he believes passionately that quality educational opportunities should be available to “students across all walks of life rather than the financially fortunate few”. In addition to the steps outlined in the article, the American School of Athens is embarking on an action research project to prove just how that might be done.
While reading the article, I was reminded of a president’s message I had written nearly seven years ago focusing on a related topic. Like Dr. Gialamas and his colleague, I argued the advantages of an international school when it comes to diversity, global perspective and understanding how the world is evolving. I saw these as important life skills not as clearly understood nor effectively promoted by many stateside schools. In the article I suggested that less emphasis should be placed on “American style education” both here and abroad and that we had much to learn from the international school community as to how to better prepare students for a globalized future.
But Gialamas and Pelonis raise the ante on this issue by suggesting that a universal offering of a global education is essential to any hope we hold for a brighter future. As they state in their conclusion education in general and an international education in particular “…must become available to students across all walks of life….” if there is to be any hope we can improve society going forward.
As a young teacher, I remember being told that as an educator, I had to believe in the future, believe that the future would be better than the past and have the audacity to believe that I could make the difference.
Dr. Gialamas and Ms. Pelonis appear to have the audacity to believe that they can make that difference and their article challenges all of us to do the same. Let’s make providing high quality educational opportunity for every child our 2014 New Year’s Resolution!