Proceedings of The 3rd World Conference on Teaching and Education
The issue of western affiliations and native identity in international schools
Dr. Martyna Elerian
International schools are often criticised for being driven by the western, liberal philosophy to which others need to adjust. What is also questioned is the kind of identity that international school students develop and whether their national, cultural, religious identity is being undermined. A blind implementation of western education systems into non-western societies may lead to cultural dissonance and tension. Parents want to give their children the advantage of having an international education, yet at the same time, they want them to preserve their own morals and values. Therefore, local students who attend international schools often need to negotıate between the values and norms promoted at home and at school and adapt to the school community that exists within their country but does not represent their nation, culture or beliefs. Although it may seem that such dissonance would be an issue in the middle-eastern international schools, in fact, it is universal. A study carried out in Cyprus addressed these issues by gathering data from school leaders, students, teachers and parents in six international schools. The research discussed how studying in an international school affects students’ attachment to their native cultures. It revealed that students remain connected to their native cultures, but the extent of commitment depends on the dedication of their parents who are responsible for preserving cultural traditions, customs and beliefs in their families. This connection was especially visible among the local students. The results showed that having an international mind-set and feeling attached to native roots do not stand in opposition, and one does not work against the other. Students relate to their native cultures and the school culture simultaneously. Internationalisation is not a force that acts against one’s ethnic identity, but rather as an opportunity that expands one’s perspective beyond national/cultural identity.
Keywords: International Education, Native Identity, Global Education, Westernization.