Dr. Spilchuk – International Education Can Re-ignite the Desire to Learn About Learning…2017-06-02T14:25:39+00:00
Dear Dr. Spilchuk…

April, 2009

International Education Can Re-ignite the Desire to Learn About Learning…

Dear Dr. Spilchuk,

I recently read your articles, or rather just a summary of the articles, and I found your views to be of such interest that I had to write to you. And so I am. I have been involved in International Education as a teacher or administrator for half of my 35 year career…..the other half teaching in Canada and becoming so bored and constricted that the only medicine was adventure and, on the International circuit I have certainly had that.

My travels have taken me to Zambia, Lesotho, Nigeria, Bahrain, Pakistan, Ghana and England. With the notable exceptions of Bahrain and Nigeria most of my experiences have been positive and have fostered professional growth and a desire to learn more. One of my real joys on the International circuit has been my introduction to the IB program and the work being done on International Education at Bath University. Here, in Canada ( and correct me if I am wrong) the IB program at High School level is gradually being accepted by a few schools but the foundation IBPYP is nowhere to be seen.

And my point is: that International Education can re-ignite that desire to learn more about learning. Unfortunately, for reasons outside the learning experience frequently it does not. As you seem to suggest in your article when a teacher opts to leave home and travel to a new place he or she must be prepared to accept the “alone” factor. I found that easy but I have met many others who could not handle it at all. Then there is the factor of adjusting to the culture of the host country. I did not find this at all difficult in sub-saharan Africa but I was unable to accept the shabby treatment of the Filipinos, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis etc in the Middle East, nor could I abide by the total lack of interest in learning demonstrated by the majority of students.

Teachers who accept contracts in the Middle East must be able to adjust to Islamic culture. And for many young people, especially women (and rightfully so) that is a major concern. Once you accept a position at a school it is incumbent upon you as a professional to “stick it out” no matter how much you despair of the practices of the administration and abhor the abuse of men and women condemned to serve in countries which do not respect individual human rights. It is difficult to accept but it is what it is. Unfortunately, unless one is severely handicapped by a very thick skin, the experience of witnessing abuse can be devastating. This is when the feelings of loneliness, frustration, impotence, indignation., whatever, set in and remain, a scar to carry home or on to the next assignment. Having said that, I had the best time of my life for 12 years serving in XXX. The people were wonderful, open and friendly and the schools I served maintained the educational standards demanded by the community.

Much as I admire CIS I believe they need to be more discerning in accepting schools, especially from the Gulf, to their job Fairs. The CIS accreditation process is laudable however it must ensure that the Director/Principal/Headmaster/ does not use it merely as “window dressing” but is accountable in the context of the accreditation document to all stakeholders. I am expecting to go to XXX in a few weeks to take up a Headship in XXX . At least this time I know that XXX is not XXX nor any other idealized figment of my imagination and I know that at first there will be no one that I recognize……as in your “Moving On” Thank you for your work. Please keep it up…..there is so much to do.

Best Regards,

Mark

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