As I read both articles/readings I thought about what we do well and what we could do better at BB&N. I also had some ideas for my classroom and for our community as a whole.
First of all, I think we do a good job of teaching foreign languages (and I'm not just saying this because I'm a language teacher . . .). We are strong because we introduce languages at a young age and make them mandatory for 3 full years in the Upper School. I know that in addition to teaching the languages, we also work hard to teach culture in these classes. I also think the changes that the History Department has made over the past few years have been very positive. I was happy to hear the emphasis on travel as part of learning empathy towards other cultures, and I feel that we do a good job with all of the trips we offer - language and other. I liked the idea of teaching to "communicate and work in productive teams, solve problems and conflicts, be entrepreneurial and creative, be risk takers and initiators of change. In general, I think most teachers try to have students practice these skills in their classes.
There are some areas where we could improve or focus more energy (and here I am only talking about the Upper School, because I don't know what is being done in these areas on the other campuses). I feel we are not doing as much work as we need to on the development of character and citizenship. The article defines the idea of "Global Civility" as "understanding, solidarity, and empathy". These can be taught both in and out of the classroom, and it might be worth having some conversations about how to focus more on these areas. In order to do this, we need more time to coordinate and collaborate in an interdisciplinary fashion. This is something that we have had trouble getting off the ground. Another area to improve on might be the "tolerance of difference of opinions." I know we do work on this, but some students and faculty members feel afraid to voice their opinions if they are different from the "norm" at BB&N.
Finally, as I was reading I thought a lot about the trips we offer and in particular the Spanish language trips. We will be offering our first Spanish Exchange this year and are excited about the new "global" relationship we're forming with our partner school in Madrid. I hope the trip will have the desired effects of developing greater empathy and tolerance in our students. In the past, however, we have offered a service learning trip, and I hope the school will still offer a trip of this kind too. The two trips (exchange and service) are quite different and expose students to different aspects of other cultures. I hope we are able to offer both kinds of trips in the future.
Reading the articles gave me some specific ideas for the new exchange trip that will give students who are not traveling a way to be involved when the Spanish students visit BB&N. I also will try to incorporate more cultural lessons in my Spanish 1 and 2 classes this year. I find that it's more of a challenge to teach culture in a deep and meaningful way at the lower levels, but I have been thinking of ways that I can do this.