The World Is Our Classroom: Say What?

Part of our vision statement is that we see the world as our classroom. What does this really mean for modern schooling, and what does it mean for ASH? There are at least two ways in which we will strive to make this true: through existing and expanding opportunities for learners to engage in learning abroad, and in more subtle but deliberate ways we can extend learning into our everyday lives.

Going Abroad
It may sound funny to talk about learning abroad when we are all part of an international school, meaning the vast majority of us are not living in our home country. I am reminded of the experience of my wife and my daughters who are now in university in the US. Admissions departments in these schools like to highlight the opportunities to study abroad. Our daughters, being born abroad and never having lived in the US, chortled a bit, commenting, “Going to college in the US is studying abroad!" In other words, our students have amazing opportunities that may quickly seem normal, but are far from it on a global scale. ASH students are able to take their learning from an AMIS arts festival in another European country to an event like THIMUN that is in The Hague, right here in our backyard, but involves colleagues from all around the world. Our athletes and participants in global studies programs can travel to foreign countries and discover there is very little foreign about excellence in team competition or meeting human needs.

These are opportunities to learn that stretch beyond the borders of our school and the Netherlands. With the re-energizing that can come from the new vision statement, we should strive to make all of these regional and global opportunities even more meaningful and connected to the learning that happens at school so all is even more seamless.

Everyday Experience
The world can serve as our classroom even within the borders of the Netherlands but outside the school walls. Too often we see and hear that students understand there is one set of rules that applies inside of school and a different set outside. When it comes to exciting curiosity and fostering learning, this should not be the case. Let me put this another way; if students see the learning that happens in their everyday lives as generally exciting and engaging, but they have to unplug and “do school” when they come to campus, then we are all doing something wrong. Human beings are born desiring to learn and excited to do so. We should engage and sustain that natural curiosity as much as possible since this is how we will foster the ability to learn throughout life.

Once again, we need to strive to make the intrinsic, self-motivated learning that happens outside of school the same modality for what happens in school. We should see students (and adults as well) who think of themselves as learners and not as students. There is a subtle but crucial difference between these. Successful students may find further success after they leave school, but successful learners definitely will. Let’s strive to create experiences that blend learning in and out of school rather than structures that reward simply being a good student.

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