Students are taken to local places of historical or cultural significance, which they learn about with the help of our dedicated Thai staff. It may be worth exploring why we set such store by this.
As a school accredited by the Council of International Schools, we are committed to actively developing global citizenship. A lofty ideal, it can be difficult to see how to address this with primary-aged children. However, we are also a British International School following the English national curriculum. As such, we are expected to actively promote certain defined British values, including mutual respect for, and tolerance of, those with different faiths and beliefs. This ties in with our BISP Primary Virtues of kindness and respect.
On a more intellectual basis, the development of international-mindedness has been described by Martin Skelton, Group Director of Learning and Education at the International Schools Partnership, as “a declining sense of egocentrism”. As I understand it, that means we come to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around us alone, that other people may well see things differently to ourselves and that there may be value in those differences. This has been widely recognised: ‘unity in diversity’ is a concept upheld by many organisations including the European Union and the Republic of Indonesia.
We are lucky to have such a diversity of nationalities and cultures on which we can draw, as the recent International Day illustrated. However, there is a well-documented danger that pupils in such international schools can develop their own ‘third culture’, divorced from that of the host country which can run the risk of becoming relegated to a secondary position. Our Thai day trips are but the visible tip of the iceberg in attempting to counter this.
Throughout Primary School, all students receive weekly Thai lessons. These include an introduction to the Thai language; they also focus on matters of cultural and historical significance. For the majority of our students, who are not Thai, they also have the option to choose Thai as a modern language to study. Our Thai students follow a comprehensive programme of Thai studies in line with government requirements: we do not want learning in a British International School to be at the expense of their own culture.
In addition to all this, the school community respects significant festivals such as Wai Kru, Loy Krathong and Songkran. And of course, our children get to go on day trips!
– Kenneth Page
Kenneth Page is the Primary Principal at British International School, Phuket. For more information, visit them at www.bisphuket.ac.th