Speeches from the Strategic Plan Launch Event at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle, October 15th, 2016

Speeches on education by Mr. Simon Murray, former Head of School, International School of Paris and Ms. Lydia Ruprecht, Programme Specialist and Team Leader for Global Citizenship Education, UNESCO.

Speech by Simon Murray

Speech by Mr. Simon Murray, former Head of School

Many thanks to all you for coming tonight whether you are a member of the school community or new friends joining us for the first time. Thanks also to our hosts tonight at what I hope you will all agree is a wonderful venue.

Our setting is, of course, no accident as we are here to mark a particular moment in the school’s evolution. As some of you already know, I happen to be the same age as the school so landmarks in its history have a particular resonance for me. So, at 52, what does a deliberate decision to make changes involve and signify? Well, I hope it is not perceived as some mid-life crisis, the organizational equivalent of wearing those inappropriate clothes, buying that sports car, pretending that you really can dance!

No, our plans today are the end product of a very considered process that ultimately involved 80 members of the school community as well as external support. It also involved a considerable amount of research into the growing body of research evidence that indicates that the educational landscape is shifting to accommodate the demands of modern life.

Educational systems and schools are typically conservative in their approach to change. This is, at least in part, because they often view themselves to be the guardians of great traditions, defenders of accumulated wisdom. And indeed, it would be foolish to turn our backs on what succeeding generations have managed to learn and know. However, it is equally important that any educational institution periodically revisits its fundamental purposes in order to refresh and reaffirm their validity.

A favoured metaphor in evaluating the purpose of education is to consider if it provides a map and/or a compass for the learner. Ideally, one might think that a good education would provide both but it remains the case that many schools make provisions only for the former. Maps remain vital and are a testament to human development. However, a map will only ever really tell you where others have been and allow you to repeat the journey. Perhaps more pressing is how educators should respond if the maps of our world appear to be re-drawn. In these circumstances, possessing a compass may be altogether more necessary.

The increasingly connected world of digital connection force us to reconsider our relationship to space and place and to what they have meant historically. Rightly or wrongly, they have been the locus of much of what constitutes our identities. The nation state no longer provides a set of givens but choices are made by membership of groups amongst others organised around trans-national allegiance, to religion, ethnicity, language, class and shared interests. And, crucially, these groupings cross the traditional frontiers that traditional maps illustrate. In what is sometimes referred to as “nomadic citizenship”, it is perhaps unsurprising that we seem ill prepared for the cultural, economic and physical traffic that typifies the modern world. But, while at least some of our political leaders seem keen to announce that multi-culturalism is dead, I look at our international and migrant community and know that this is not true, even if we would be labelled the beneficiaries of globalisation rather than its victims. International education should have something to say about this; ISP does have something to say about this.

As such, it seems appropriate for ISP and international education as a whole to come of age and not merely through the display of “food, flags and festivals”. The history of international schools is largely accidental in its foundation, catering to the needs of international civil servants. However, they have gone on to anticipate decisively the emergent communities of the world. To this extent it feels entirely legitimate that a school such as ISP should be ‘Moving from Experience to Influence’.

If we were to imagine metaphorically that a school is an island that we leave on graduation, it can sometimes feel that we have taught our children everything except how to swim. So, if we were to consider some contemporary swimming lessons what might they look like?

  • That whatever bodies of knowledge that we might have been able to master have also allowed us to think independently.
  • Be unafraid of difference, the new or the other.
  • Be able to act for the sake of a future that you will not be part of.
  • Have a fully developed sense of consequence in our acting in the world.
  • Refuse simplistic interventions into connected, complex systems.
  • Be able to be creative, to investigate, to innovate and to change.
  • Find out what it might mean to live fulfilled, sustainable lives.

The programmes of the IB and the Learner Profile invite us to explore a humanistic, holistic education. Underpinning this is a recognition that the texture of experience is inherently plural rather than singular. These are just a few of the many reasons why we are “Educating for Complexity”.

Speech by Lydia Ruprecht

Lydia Ruprecht, Programme Specialist and Team Leader for Global Citizenship Education, UNESCO

On the occasion of the launch of the new vision, mission and strategic plan of the International School of Paris
(15 October 2016)

Thank you Simon…..I see that the school is embarking on a new and exciting journey. Indeed, when a school community decides to pause, take stock of its strengths and weaknesses, and think about its future there is an awesome sense that it is making history.

The international education community had a similar experience last year when it adopted its own “Strategic Plan” called Education 2030.

This document was developed after a broad consultation around the world, with town hall meetings in all regions and expert consultations. It was then discussed in Korea with Ministers of Education and finally adopted in September 2015 by 193 countries in New York at the UN General Assembly, along with a new Sustainable Development Agenda to end poverty by 2030 and pursue a sustainable future[1].

This new international agenda for development, which includes a focus on Education, ushers in a new era of national action and international cooperation to address the root causes of poverty, increase economic growth and prosperity and meet people’s health, education and social needs, while protecting the environment.

The overarching Goal for Education contained in the document is:

“to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”[2]

This Goal then expands into seven targets to provide a comprehensive set of priorities for Education systems around the world…both in the economic south and north.

Similar to the ISP Strategy, the Education Agenda 2030 seeks to respond to two basic questions: In what world will our children grow into? And how can we best prepare them to thrive and contribute – throughout life – to this world?

Our response was based on an analysis of trends -of what science has to tell us- and a clarification of our core principles (or values).

We concluded the following:

  • that it is important to ground educational reform in a humanist and holistic view of education…that is, that education is not only about learning to read, write and count. It must also help individuals acquire a sense of belonging to a common humanity with a shared destiny: “One humanity, one planet”.
  • education must help prepare learners to live in a complex, globalized and at times uncertain world.
  • finally, Education, as a public good, must equip learners with the skills, attitudes and behaviours that allow them to contribute constructively to society.

This vision reminds us of the four pillars of education that emerged in 1996 from the famous World Commission on Education, otherwise known as the “Delors Report”[3]:

Learning to know
learning to do
learning to be
learning to live together

“Learning to know” and “to do” has been the focus of many formal education systems in the XX century.….leaving the rest to families and or society.

One of the novelties of the new Education 2030 Agenda is that it emphasizes all four pillars of learning – notably the importance of learning to be and to live together.

In a world that is increasingly interconnected, with mobile technologies opening new opportunities and creating at the same time higher risks of intolerance and violence it is vital that we:

  • Equip learners of all ages with those values, knowledge and skills that are based on and instil respect for human rights, social justice, diversity, gender equality and environmental sustainability and that empower learners to be responsible global citizens…locally and globally.
  • This means focusing not only on cognitive skills, but also on socio-emotional and behavioural skills. By this I mean not only developing the ability to think critically but also developing among learners a sense of empathy and the skills to engage constructively with others that are different from ourselves, take part in civic processes, work collaboratively, etc.

This education is what UNESCO calls Global Citizenship Education[4].

In this global context, it is a pleasure for me to be with you today, to see a school and its community embrace, with such passion and commitment, an educational vision that UNESCO is committed to promoting globally.

I therefore wish to congratulate you on your new strategic plan, which I have no doubt will make its contribution to building peace in the minds of men and women.