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September 1997 - Issue No. #28 (p.9)

"Education: Rising to the Global Challenge"

International Schools Association Annual Conference

Washington D.C. March 13-15, 1997

Reported by Esther Lucas (Israel)

This was a joint conference of the Washington International School and the International Schools Association.

The International Schools Association (ISA) has a membership of 84 international and internationally minded schools as well as individual affiliates. It is an NGO of the United Nations which initiated the International Baccalaureate programme in the 1960s and has continued to have an impact on international education through its work for the Middle Years Programme of the IB. ISA is presently involved in an International Education System Pilot Project whose main object is education for peace.

The International Schools Association aims at encouraging cooperation among international or internationally minded schools through consultation on teaching and administrative questions and is interested in establishing curricula and educational norms for international schools. ISA encourages the creation of new international schools for improving international understanding.

The Washington International School, an early member of ISA, was founded in 1966 as an independent day school and has always been a global institute in its student body. WIS has developed a comprehensive and challenging curriculum sensitive to the history and cultures of the world.

The conference was attended by 230 participants from 15 different countries with a large contingent from the USA. Organizations represented included the European Council of International Schools, the American Federation of Teachers, the Committee on Teaching about the UN, the Council for Basic Education, the School of Western and Asian Learning, the Smithsonian Institute, the Societe des Ecoles d'Education Internationale, and the United Nations.

Proceedings began with a reception at the residence of the Russian ambassador, followed by more than 40 presentations and workshops on three main themes:

  1. Issues of the 21st Century

  2. Internationalizing the Curriculum

  3. Issues of a Globally Mobile Population

Presentation topics included:

  • Global Orbit: The UN Cyber-School Bus

  • International Eyes: Partnerships between Schools and Museums

  • Global Initiatives and Networks: The Pelham Associates

  • International Migration

  • Peace Education: The ISA Pilot Project

  • The Venn View of Diversity

  • Integrating Native American Studies into the School Curriculum

  • Teaching Learning Strategies in the Foreign Language Classroom

  • Math through Global Concerns

  • The Basics of Conflict Resolution

  • International Understanding through EFL

Plenary sessions were addressed by Anne Marie Pierce (head of WIS), Dr. James McLellan (Chair, ISA), Dr. Roger Peel (Director, IBO), Dr. Peter Relic (President, National Association of Independent Schools), Siegfried Ramler (Chair, Advisory Council of the Pacific Basin Consortium on Preparing for the Pacific Century), Dr. Dan Davidson (American Council of Teachers of Russian), Dr. Jose Costa (European Union), and Colman McCarthy (Director, Center for Teaching Peace) who spoke on "How to Be an Effective Peacemaker".

Various publications were on display and for sale, including Peace Works: A Teacher's Guide for Setting Up a Mini United Nations. presented by the NGO Committee on Teaching About the UN.

During the ISA Annual General Meeting, I was honored to received the ISA International Humanism Award for contributing to the educational philosophy of the International Schools Association.

As in all such conferences, the mingling of specialists on global education and the ensuing discussions formed a meaningful part of the conference. One quote stands out from the many wise sayings heard: "A human mind once stretched to a new idea never returns to its former dimensions". (Oliver Wendell Holmes).

More information on the ISA Pilot Project can be obtained from:
Phil Thomas
International School of Geneva, 62 Route de Chene, 1208 Geneva, Switzerland

Esther Lucas
13 David Marcus St., Herzilya Pituah, 46682 ISRAEL Fax: 972-9-9500867


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