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Although 'international schools' have been in existence for over 100 years (if one includes schools comprising country-specific names, such as "Singapore American School" having an international mission; for about 90 years if one considers only those with 'international' in their name), surprisingly little has been written about them. Moreover, of the little that has been written, there does not seem to be much agreement regarding what composes 'the essence' of international schools, or what comprises their common key characteristics.
While the first international schools often began with roots from missionary endeavors, over the past century the raisons d'être' for the creation of international schools has evolved and expanded dramatically. Today, many of these schools exist mainly to serve the 'expatriate' population - families living outside their home country for work or other purposes. Others are founded upon a 'for-profit' basis, hoping to capitalize on the increasing desire of individuals to benefit from the perceived advantages of an 'international school' education . Still others, through substantially fewer, were created by individuals hoping to establish a school with a specific focus or objective (ex. United World College). This increasingly wide-ranging scope is expressed by Hayden and Thompson (1995a), where they argue that "the body of international schools is a 'conglomeration of individual institutions which may or may not share an underlying purpose.'"
Furthermore, another factor which makes defining the nature of international schools as a group difficult, is the fact that some emerged from a pragmatic need while others had their roots in an ideology. Most however, as Matthews (1998) says, had elements of both pragmatic and ideological purposes that contributed to their creation. Indeed, each school quickly formed their own 'ideology' but it is important to remember that the practical purpose of educating the children of expatriates is the primary consideration for many. In this sense, the establishment of many international schools can be seen to be largely economic. Companies have an easier time enticing employees to transplant their lives overseas to develop their markets if they are able to offer an enriching and competitive educational experience for the children of these employees.
This paper hopes to present a critical analysis of the work done on efforts to define international schools. It will explore and highlight the various factors deemed to be most significant when considering what generates a truly international school. As well, the writer hopes to demonstrate the complexities and complications in attempting to arrive at a comprehensive definition, and to suggest avenues for further research. For these purposes and space limitations, this paper will focus on 'not-for-profit' international schools and is not concerned with the hundreds or even thousands of 'for-profit' international schools which have developed in the last two decades and are often are really national schools under the guise of the 'international school' name..
International Education and International Schools
For a proper consideration of the task at hand - to consider the characteristics that define a 'genuine' international school - one must understand the connections between the terms 'international school' and 'international education'. One attempt to define international education, in Harvard Educational Review (1985), claims that "International, global, cross-cultural and comparative education are different terms to describe education which attempts - in greater or lesser degrees - to come to grips with the increasing interdependence that we face and to consider its relationship to learning." Others (Postlethwaite, 1988) (Crossley and Broadfoot, 1992) argue that comparative and 'international' education, while closely related, are not synonymous. While sometimes used interchangeably (at least historically), one can easily argue that a school can offer an 'international education' without being considered an 'international school'. However, fewer would contend that a 'true' international school could be considered as such without offering an 'international education'.
Thus, it seems, the term 'international education' is more often used to refer to the formal curriculum, or at least formal processes of the school, while the term 'international school' seems to consider a number of other factors, including informal processes, ethos, and community members. Citing Belle-Isle (1986) who believed that "The ... mission of international education is to respond to the intellectual and emotional needs of the children of the world, bearing in mind the intellectual and cultural mobility not only of the individual but, most of all, of thought", Hayden and Thompson (1995) argue that international education and international schools are no longer the same thing. In their work entitled "International Schools and International Education: A Relationship Reviewed" (1995), they challenge the idea that the two terms are interchangeable. From this, they also, to some degree at least, attempt to analyze the factors that help define international schools. Indeed, Hayden and Thompson, are two of the few 'experts' studying this field. They acknowledge that even "the concept of the 'international school' is one which has developed rapidly over the past 40 years and is still relatively thinly researched." They allude to the other challenge of defining such schools - the large degree of diversity that exists in almost every aspect when attempting to 'compare' or classify international schools.
Hayden and Thompson proceed to categorize the various aspects in which international schools can be different. Size can range from double digits to thousands and location can vary from beachfront schools to those in some of the world's most densely populated cities, while the nationality and ethnicity of the student population can be surprisingly homogeneous (for a school which calls itself 'international'). Meanwhile, factors such governance structures, the type of curriculum, entry requirements, language of instruction, teaching personnel and the school clientele exist in all combinations.
The closest Hayden and Thompson come to defining characteristics is to refer to Terwilliger(1972) who believed that there were "four main requisites for a school to be classified as international." First, and perhaps foremost, the school had to have a "significant number" of foreign students. The problem with this criteria however is that they failed to define "significant" and, as result, it is not clear what proportion of the school would be required to be foreign. Secondly, they proposed that the governance of the school should consist of "foreigners and nationals in roughly the same proportions as the student body being served" and its teachers should have "experienced a period of cultural adaptation" themselves. In addition, the curriculum should be a "distillation of the best content and the most effective instructional practices of each of the national systems', which will allow students to transfer to other international schools, to schools in their home education systems, or to university either at home or in some other part of the world."
While this definition accurately reflects the ideological purpose of international schools at the time, it is no longer as valid as the pragmatic focus of schools is more heavily considered in today's environment. That is, there are far more schools in existence now whose foundations rest on providing a comparable education experiences for expatriate children than exist solely on ideological grounds. While this author would hold that the demographic makeup of the school in terms of students, teachers, and leaders, as well as the curriculum, are essentially distinguishing factors of an international school, Terwilliger's definitions of these terms are much too limiting when considering today's international schools. Indeed, it still remains the case, that for schools to be truly considered as such, a significant portion of the student population should be students from outside the location where the school is located (and in most cases, students that only are residing in that country temporarily).
Similarly, governance of international schools is not always as precise as Terwilliger would have liked. It is not clear why Terwilliger believed that the governance of the school has to be in the same proportion to the student population. Clearly, in this author's opinion, governance should be culturally diverse, but it is not necessary to be in the same ratio to that of the students. Indeed, many - if not most - international schools today have board compositions that are not proportionate to its student body yet are widely considered 'international' (ex. International School Manila). While having some degree of diversity in nationality and ethnicity is important, it is also crucial, in this author's opinion, that both the school and its community possess an international perspective. This will be discussed further in a later section.
Finally, the 'distillation of the best curriculum elements in the world' required by Terwilliger is not easy to find in many schools. Rather, most international schools tend to favor one curriculum - such as the International Baccalaureate or AP programs, or draw from a national system, the Australian, British and Canadian being the most common. One could argue that the IB Diploma does indeed meet Terwilliger's curriculum definition, and thus could be considered as one of the only truly international high school curriculums in existence - if not, certainly the most popular. Most critics would agree however that both Terwilliger's reference to international schools necessitating international teachers as key and as being ethnically diverse remains relevant today.
Others studying the field, including Matthews (1988), Leach (1969), and Poenisch (1987), argue that it is more appropriate - and accurate - to categorize international schools rather than attempting to define them. Their positions rest on the assumption that international education automatically happens in an international school. The diversity that exists in almost every respect - from beliefs, governance, community make up, foundational purpose and a host of other aspects - make it impossible to come up with a definition that applies to all international schools. The number of schools has risen dramatically in the last 60 years, and with this, the term 'international school' had grown to mean many different things. As early as 1957, the growth was recognized: "As the global mobility of such professionals and their families becomes increasingly commonplace, more and more schools worldwide, often describing themselves as 'international schools', respond to the need to provide 'international education' and the development within their students of what has been described as 'worldmindedness'" (Sampson & Smith, 1957) or an "international attitude." (Hayden & Thompson, 1995b).
Perhaps, arguably, the earliest recorded formal definition occurred in the 1964 Yearbook of Education where they suggested, "the existence of a new concept - international schools founded with the specific purpose of furthering international education." (Jonietz and Harris, 1991, p.ix). At that time of this writing, there were an estimated 50 international schools in the world. A Haydens(1995) study suggested the estimated number of international schools to be around 1,000forecasting a further doubling of this number, especially if all schools with "international" in their name are included. Gellar's (1991) suggests that as the number of overseas schools grew, "for want of a better one, the term 'international education' gained currency - a term that meant all things to some people and meant very little to many." International education, and thus international schools, increasingly became seen as a much sought after commodity, one which could potentially offer otherwise unavailable opportunities. At the same time, the definition of 'international education' became broader in an attempt to include a host of 'international' schools that were different and unique in many ways. This growth in the numbers also reflects the vastly increased diversity of these schools and thus should be regarded with caution. As well as more for-profit schools being created, so too have the number of schools, both new and old, who have included "international" in their name for reasons of perceived benefit or marketing, but which can be argued to not be 'truly' international schools. International schools, in their truest form, were "established principally in response to a perceived need on the part of displaced employees of multinational organizations, diplomats, and aid workers for schools which could provide forms of education not available locally, such schools generally offer a curriculum not of the host country" (SOURCE, XXXX, 551). Garavalia (1997) argues that there are "(essentiallyâ€¦.three types of rationales for pursuing an internationalized curriculum." First, he says, is the pragmatic need - the "need to provide commercial advantage, to prepare students for the twenty-first century and to allow institutions to be competitive with their peers." Second, is the rationale of liberating - "the need to open students' minds to different worlds and cultural differences; to provide a holistic view of the world while overcoming students' fragmented learning habits." Finally, he considers the civic education aim of schools - "to provide students with the skills necessary for making educated decisions about who should govern."
Today, the term 'international school' is used loosely to refer to what has been described as a "conglomeration of individual institutions which may or may not share an underlying educational philosophy" (Hayden and Thompson 1998). Since the scope, purpose, and 'clientele' of international schools have expanded, Hayden and Thompson argue that traditional definitions are no longer accurate and, as a result, they strive to pursue a new definition of international schools.
In a similar, but simpler way to Gargavlia, Hayden and Thompson (1995) simply classify schools according to whether their roots rest in a "pragmatic" or "ideological" foundation. They would likely see Gargavalia's last two rationales summarized by saying "those who see international education primarily as an instrument for the preparation of young people to cope with life in an increasingly interdependent world" (Hayden and Thompson, 1995). Increasingly, families seem to be choosing schools for primarily for pragmatic reasons. Considering the academic quality and values of a school, international schools have increasingly become the option of choice for host country nationals because of the perceived advantages of their positive reputations. That is, these schools are often seen largely as a 'ticket' to broadening post-secondary education options and "opening doors" to enrolling in universities in other countries - particularly in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. However, one must consider that even if the local government allows host country nationals to attend, relatively very few have the economic means to afford the high tuition and fees charged by most of these schools. In fact, having 'international' in a school's name seems to now be a legitimate reason to demand higher fees. Allen (200) would argue that this translates into the perpetuation of the social class of the country. That is, those already economically and socially privileged acquire further advantages due to the nature of their societal position. The lower socio-economic classes are not afforded the same opportunities to 'get ahead'. As well, the idea of these schools as a melting pot, or rather, blending pot of nationalities and ethnicities, rather than a truly being multicultural, has steadily gained momentum in the last 100 years. At the same time, "the diversity within the group of schools using the expression 'international school' within their title has become increasingly apparent" (Hayden and Thompson, 1998).
Hayden and Thomson's (1998) work is inadequate in providing the reader with a complete picture of international schools. Clearly though, to be fair, that was not the authors' purpose. Rather, their comparative study rests upon fundamentally different assumptions, perspectives and goals, than does a study focusing solely on the nature of the schools. This is not to say however that their work is not beneficial to our understanding. Rather, many of the ideas explored in their work laid the foundation for much of their and others' work on the topic that followed later. Hayden and Thompson would in fact support the premise that the most substantive research into 'what makes international schools' international, by conducting research on both the students' and teachers' perspectives on the topic. First, though, if we accept, as this author does, that some degree of ethnic diversity amongst the community members of a school is a requirement for being 'truly' international, then we must develop a broader understanding of these constituents.
The 'Clients': Parents and Students
To properly appreciate the nature of international schools, one must understand their "clients". The students are generally from a higher socio-economic status - often with at least one of their parents being a mid to high-level executive enticed to take company posts in a foreign country with the allure of higher salaries and better benefits. The parents usually are also more highly educated than average, indicating a strong family value being placed on education. While not specifically intended to describe international school parents, Madeline Levine's (2008) description of upper-middle-class parents as "concerned, educated, and involved parents who have exceedingly high expectations for their children", is equally applicable to describe the majority of international school parents. Because of the family values, most of the school children also place significant value on education and are generally students who strive to do well both academically and behaviorally. Thus international schools, due to the backgrounds and status of its members, generally do not face some of the scholastic and management challenges that public schools in many nations often do.
Interestingly, while many feel that having a high level of ethnic diversity is indicative of whether a school is truly international, socio-economic diversity is not considered anywhere as crucial. In fact, the "generally uniform in their socio-economic origins" (Allen, 2000) of international schools and its members is largely ignored in the work on defining international schools. Clearly, the relatively homogenous economic status of these families, coupled with the normally heterogeneous ethnic composition of the student and parent populations, is a rather unique force in international schools and creates its own challenges and opportunities.
As a corollary to both their wealth and education, parents who are afforded the opportunity to place their child in an international school also seem to possess a greater sense of entitlement. That is, they expect to play an active role in shaping the school, and oftentimes, in its programs and philosophy. The sense of privilege is further exaggerated by the new lifestyles many expats find themselves in their new host country - often with maids, drivers, cooks, and benefits such luxurious housing and the financially security for one spouse to remain unemployed by choice (Allen, 2000).
Many would argue that a key defining feature of an international school would be whether it is demographically and cultural diverse. Indeed they would say that a school cannot have an international perspective if its' members are homogenous. In fact, few have argued that having students from various countries is irrelevant to the school. However, others would contend that it is possible to offer an international education outside of an international school. That is, the previous hypothesis that international education only happens in international schools has been broken down. It has piloted attempts to reconsider, and redefine, both international education and international schools. We will discuss this more in the next section.
As mentioned, in most international schools, the student population is generally affluent as well as being culturally diverse. Many schools have limits on the percentage of any one nationality in order to limit the cultural dominance of one particular group. Most of the prominent researches in the field consider the diversity of the students as a key feature of international schools. Hayden and Thompson (1997), as well as Allen (2000), point to the fact that the student population in schools is distinctive and from a varied range of cultures. Allen (2000) goes further however by suggesting that "fully international schools willâ€¦already have structures to minimize the influence of any one culture."
Meanwhile, research also suggests the importance of having 'host country nationals' represented in the student body (Allen, 2000). However, Allen suggests that the local school representation is not a genuine or representative one. He suggests that the students who can afford to enroll in an international school are already part of the socio-economic elite of the host country and as such, Allen (2000) says, international schools "reinforce the stratification of the host country by accepting host nationals." Allen acknowledges and addresses the obvious yet little discussed apparent contradiction of international schools as "reinforcing privilege" with explicit or implied school goals of "level the playing field."
The other group of students often represented in international schools is those who have two or more cultural backgrounds. Sometimes referred to as "half-half", (or 'double/double' as referred to in Japan), they have parents of two different nationalities sharing values from each culture. Allen's greatest contribution to this field of research is his attempts to facilitate our understanding the differing student groups that he seems to view as essential for a school to be considered fully international. His four category groupings: "Look like host/Think like host, Look different/Think like host, Looks like host/Think differently, Looks different/Thinks differently" seems to capture the spectrum of international school students. Allen would argue that rather than focusing on the physical structures of the school, or even whether one nationality is in majority, that a key feature of schools that are truly global, are those that have students who fit into all four of these categories. A challenge for schools is to be cultural sensitive and aware when interacting with so many cultural groups.
Allen (2000) makes the point that "parent participation is culturally specific." The degree, to which parents feel the right to be involved, is influenced by the culture of the school, as well as the affect of their home culture. Clearly, parents from diverse cultural backgrounds, come with a difference in expectations in terms of the degree of their involvement and role in the school. Allen (2000) suggests that "an effective international school needs to ensure that parents are not disenfranchised by their language of culture". They need to find ways to keep communication open regardless of language. Furthermore, Allen (2000) suggests that "one of the most important roles of an international school is to encourage its privileged students to develop an appreciation of, and a respect for, and empathy towards their world. Allen seems to suggest that a key defining characteristic of an international school is dependent on its values and beliefs, rather than in physical structures or demographics.
We have thus far focused mainly on the external elements regarding what previous writers have considered indicative of an international school. We now move to consider perhaps the most influential or informative "internal" factors. And as the extensive work of Haydens et. al. (1997), (1998), and (1995) has shown, there is no better way to get a sense of these internal elements than to ask the 'participants' - particularly, the students and the teachers.
As early as the late 80's, Matthews (1989b) suggested that teachers "were a key factor in
distinguishing international schools." Much of his work rested on the notion that the global perspective that teachers of various nationalities bring is crucial to a truly international school. Haydens and Thompson's (1998) and (2000) research focusing on what defines such a school looking through the lens of international school teachers themselves support the notion that if they were crucial to the definition of their school, they would be enlightening sources to investigate themselves in terms of what they did to be distinguishing or influential factors of the schools. In a similar way, they considered the impressions of the students and what they deemed as most crucial in defining their experiences and their schools as 'international'.
In 'International Education: Perceptions of Teachers in International Schools (1998)', the authors considered the views of international school teachers with "the importance of a range of factors in contributing to the experience of international education for students." Perhaps not surprisingly, results showed that the teachers considered their influence on students as being highly important. The results showed that teachers also considered the exposure to other students of different backgrounds to be a crucial factor in defining the experience unique of international schools. In the comparative summary of their research into teacher and student perceptions, Hayden and Thompson (2000) illustrate a distinct difference in the "perceived importance" between teachers and students. The authors group the 45 items on the teacher survey into different categories. They also draw 'cut-off' scores in order to assign a level of importance (from extremely high to 'fairly low'). In comparing their results with a previous study they completed on student perceptions, the 'rank order' of the five categories was quite different. Both groups agreed that 'exposure to students within school' was the most important factor is defining an international school, clearly supporting previous references to the argument that having a diverse student body as crucial. If one accepts that 'Exposure to other students' is clearly considered the most important, then it raises the question whether 'international education', at least as defined so far here, can truly take place in a national school that serves one cultural group. Can a school be an international school just because it offers an international curriculum?
The students and teachers also agreed that "being international necessitates an open and flexible world view." This clearly points to elements such as adaptability, broad-mindedness and/or open-mindedness, and a willingness to work together as being key components. The idea of a school having a certain outlook is expressed more simply by Barlett(1993), who deems the defining quality of international as "a way of thinking!" It is not surprising then, given their agreements on having a world view, that both teachers and students are in agreement that maintaining their own views is not incompatible with being international. For both, the category that Hayden and others call 'open-mindedness, flexibility of thinking and action' is thought by both teachers and students to be an essential defining element and that that such traits are a necessary part of being 'international'. Both students and teachers are also mostly in agreement that second language competence and a positive attitude towards other value systems and cultures, are important contributory factors to being 'international'.
While there was some overlap in those factors considered significant - those such as the effects of exposure to students of different backgrounds and world view- there are several notable differences in terms of the students' perceptions of what factors define their international experience versus those of teachers. The teachers considered their own role and influence as essential to the definition while the students placed the significance of teachers much lower. To be fair, while teachers perceived themselves as important to what defines their schools, they recognized their effect mainly as serving as role models for an international lifestyle and outlook for their students. As well, many teachers considered the diversity of staff, both in terms of country of origin and gender as being important. As well, Matthews (1989b) in Allen (2000) had earlier deemed the teacher to be 'a key factor in distinguishing international schools'.
Similarly, and most notably, teachers considered the "the more 'ideologically based' dimensions of an international education" as highly important. That is, teachers considered the school's formal and informal curriculum as being crucial to the definition. These ideological dimensions also included factors such as learning to be tolerant, the ability to consider issues from more than one perspective, and the belief that all cultures are equally valid. While teachers viewed their own role as being only less important than the exposure students to peers of various backgrounds and beliefs, students rated teacher factors and influence as being the second least important on their international experience. In a similar way, teachers clearly considered the formal curriculum more highly than students, who deemed it the least important among those factors considered. Clearly then, interaction with people (other students, parents, individual teachers), rather than aspects of school such as the formal curriculum, which are perceived by students to be important in shaping their international attitudes. (Hayden, 1995)
The 'informal aspects of school' was an area which teachers seemed to understate its value, at least compared with student perceptive which placed it second after exposure to students within and outside of school. This leads us finally to consider the idea of a school exposure to the local community, which deserves special recognition here as it is an area often left unexplored. While it is a frequently ignored element when considering the definition of an international school, it rates as the second highest most influential element for students in defining their global experience. Clearly, their exposure to their host community is deemed to have significant influence and value for them. While Allen (2000) considers the "client and community relationship" as paramount, as well the intensity and purpose of these relationships, few others look beyond the walls of the school in an attempt to determine its 'internationalism." Allen (2000) criticizes, in part, past definitions of international schools as places of "worldly understanding." Instead, he argues that the physical nature of the schools, in and of themselves, set them apart from the 'real world' in which they reside, describing them as "walled paradise(s) of leafy luxury with armed security guards separating (them) from the economically impoverished pueblo outside". Meanwhile, Mitchell (1989) argues that "the architecture and location of schools often reveals their original attitude to the community." He goes on to state that "many schools are like 'monasteries, mansions and prisons: institutions designed to keep safely separate the dedicated, the privileged or the vicious." Indeed, argues Allen (2000), the physical structures of the schools "promote the idea of difference rather than communality." Few students would argue with Allen and Mitchell regarding the relative 'lives of luxury' they lead, but Hayden and Thompson's research would seem to suggest that student perceptions are that they are not as isolated from the local host community as Allen and Mitchell would have us believe. Rather than focusing on the physical structure of the school, and the effect that it has on the community, Allen looks at from a values position and considers the ways the local community help shape the school. McDill and Rigsby (1973) in Allen (2000) argue that the "external values affect the culture of the school, shaping what goes on inside." This seems to suggest that Allen does however recognize the role the local community plays in shaping a school, and an acknowledgement of the effect that the local school members have on its' own personality and character.
It's About Thinking!
Much of the research that has been done points, in one way or another, to the ethos of a school. Garavalia(1997) expressed that the benefits of an international education tend to be four-fold: (a) to give students a global perspective on life, (b) to educate students concerning the realities of a more interdependent world, (c) to help students better understand others' cultures, and (d) to keep peace." Meanwhile, Allen (2000) suggested one role of the international school should be to focus on the ability to "engender global thinking", while others have expressed this idea of thinking utilizing various approaches. Earlier in their research, Hayden and Thompson defined 'international education' as "having an international attitude" and went on to share that this means "being prepared to tolerate the views of people of other nationalities/cultures, even if one does not agree with them" (Hayden and Thompson, 1995). The three most important factors they deemed to be crucial to developing an international attitude are exposure to students of other cultures both within and outside school, followed by the attitudes of the students' parents and informal aspects of school such as clubs and societies.
Expressed another way, Hayden and Thompson consider all of these in liaison to the overall purpose of "encouraging the development in students of positive attitudes towards those of other cultures." Barlett(1993), no doubt would agree. Indeed, he would argue that international schooling is more about a state of mind and way of thought than anything else. "It's about thinking!" as the title of his 1993 work suggests - a mindset that pervades the community that is the key defining quality of a truly global school.
A number of 'informal' curriculum experiences were seen as being essential to the development of one's international perspective. Besides the aspect of being exposed and having the opportunity to interact with people of varying backgrounds noted by both teachers and students to being crucial, activities such as sports, tours and exchanges, international competitions, 'international evenings', speakers, participation in clubs, exchange programs, community service activities, among other things, were all contributing factors to developing a broader world, or global perspective. Some would argue that all of these factors - exposure to a variety of cultures both within and outside of school, and both formal and informal aspects of the school - contribute to a specific world view, a certain way of thinking and feeling.
Quite clearly, there seem to be two untenable realities correlated s international schools. First is the fact that there is no clearly agreed definition or set of characteristics with regard to what defines an international school. Second is that as the number of international schools continues to emerge, each with varying believes and foundations, it becomes increasingly difficult to establish a broad definition that is applicable to all international schools. For our purposes, we were concerned with determining what defines the oldest, more respected and established international schools in the world - those which seem to have their roots firmly planted in a worldview ideological framework and those established to serve the foreign community.
Hayden and Thompson's various studies show that while some are clearly considered to be more significant than others, there is no uniform belief or strong opinion that it is only one element that creates international education. It seems commonly agreed that a key component in defining an international school is the need for a diverse cultural and ethnic composition in the student body. The extent to which a school must be culturally diversified however is not agreed upon, and in fact, largely ignored by past researchers. The idea that a school should be distinct to the extent that no one cultural group exerts a dominant influence, while ideal, is impractical and would exclude the majority of international schools if applying this definition. It is clear and generally agreed upon however, that the extent to which the student body is diverse and able to interact in a meaningful way with students of other ethnic, religious, cultural backgrounds, is thought to be at the heart of traditional schools. Notably however, the narrow socio-economic classes that tend to attend international schools are not considered to be a factor in its 'internationalism.' Similarly, there is little research to suggest the relative affluence of the school or its community members has no direct role in shaping whether a school is 'international' or not - besides being the parents of the children.
The belief that 'international education' is not necessarily experienced at a school which labels itself as such, nor is such education only to be experienced at an international school, seems to have gained greater support in the last decade. That international education does not necessarily, or even more importantly, occur as a result of the design and implementation of the curriculum (either formally or informally) challenges the views of those who have argued the primacy of such considerations in defining a genuine international school. More broadly, the formal aspects of school - of which curriculum is one - do not seem to have a direct relationship of whether a school is international or not. However, this is not to discount the role of these elements.
While admittedly a vague concept, "the way a school feels", seems to have a significant role in determining its global flavor. The idea of a school, and its community members, having 'an international attitude' seems to be a crucial part of what it means to be an international school. This school ethos is supported by both the formal and informal elements of schools. The ability to interact with other cultures and the desire to understand other backgrounds and beliefs is crucial to establishing this attitude. The background of the teachers, the formal curriculum and the informal opportunities available to students both within school and in the local community, all serve to foster and support the development of this 'attitude'. Once again, as Barlett (1993) would argue, "it's about thinking!"
Areas for Further Research
As international schools continue to evolve in an ever-changing and interdependent world, so will how they are defined. Given their wide ranging foundations, goals and purposes, there is not likely to ever be any agreement on the definition of an international school. So far, the research on international schools has been limited - in part because of their increasingly complex spectrum. As the field continues to expand and as schools continue to search out best practices, there are opportunities to fill some of these voids. Little has been written about the 'effects' of the schools. Do students who attend international schools have any 'advantage' in life? Are they more likely to be more successful? How does their international experience help shape their personal development and their future? What are the personal 'costs' of living internationally? Are there significant emotional concerns related to being a Third Culture Kid? While some of these areas have begun to be explored in the last decade in work related directly related to TCKs, there is still more to be done, and more than can be studied in relation specifically regarding students' experiences in international schools. Another area worthy of exploring is discovering is how to make a school effective. What does a successful school look like and what does it mean? The effect of the host local community on shaping an international perspective would also be an interesting study. Opportunities abound for those interested in considering more closely the expanding field of international schools in our ever increasingly interdependent and evolving world.