Before the dawn of social media, we only discovered other countries and their people through books, TV shows, and films. While those had helped introduce us to various cultures and languages, they didn’t expose us to the realities of the world. Instead, we stereotyped people from specific countries, worsening the ever-existing issues of racial biases and discrimination.
Thankfully, that is slowly changing with social media and international education. Parents no longer have to send their teens abroad to help them gain global skills because a world-class international high school in their home country can instil those in them. Students of an international school are either learning under the American or British curriculum, both of which are known to be challenging but emphasise critical and independent thinking. As such, they produce graduates that are highly capable and internationally-minded.
But whether you give your teen an international education or not, the skills below are crucial for their growth if they want to thrive anywhere in the world:
1. Global Skills
In the book “Understanding Global Skills for 21st Century Professionals,” the author Douglas Bourne created the “Conceptual Framework for Global Skills.” It consists of the following seven conceptual areas:
- Seeing the connections between what’s happening in your community and the communities in other parts of the world.
- Recognising what it means to live and work in a global society and the value of an extensive global perspective that respects, listens to, and values the outlooks of other people.
- Understanding global forces and their impact on one’s life and others and what it means concerning a sense of belongingness in the world.
- Understanding the value of information and communications technology and how to use it in a self-reflective and critical way.
- Openness to continuing the process of self-reflection, critical dialogue, and questioning one’s assumption about the world.
- Ability to work with others who may have different perspectives and attitudes, change one’s opinions due to working with others, and seek ways to cooperate and participate with others.
- Confidence, belief, and willingness to seek a fairer and sustainable world.
These skills may be suited for professionals, but they can be acquired from one’s teenage years. As you expose your teens to diverse environments, they’ll learn how to work well in a team and realise that there is a whole world around them. They’d learn how to make relationships work despite their worldly differences and to adjust their perspectives and opinions for those relationships to last.
2. Cultural Awareness
One of the most important skills any student should learn is cultural awareness. With the power of today’s internet, they don’t have to study abroad anymore to gain it. They can now immerse themselves in a different culture simply by making friends online or meeting foreigners in their own country.
Being familiar with different cultures will make your teen more enjoyable to be with. It will help them build a robust global network, which will benefit them in their future careers. What’s more, they’ll be more sensitive with their actions, words, and opinions about other countries and their people.
When your teens go abroad, they’ll be confronted by the change that will prompt them to step back and re-examine who they are. They’ll re-identify what they like and dislike and what they stand for. Such behaviours are called self-awareness, and it will help teens and adults gain better self-control, set goals, and achieve them.
4. Global Outlook
Like global skills and cultural awareness, a global outlook means understanding the wider world and developing a global mindset. Teens can develop this skill by immersing themselves in culturally-diverse spaces and allowing themselves to connect with students from other parts of the world. Having international teachers will also help.
Courage is probably the most important skill your teen should acquire to succeed globally. It doesn’t need to be taught in school because it is developed mostly by exposing your teen outside their comfort zone. Still, enrolling them in an international school will significantly help. The fact that they’d be learning in a different language and under a different curriculum will already trigger their courage.
All the skills listed above may be considered soft skills, but they are more essential than you think. At the end of the day, somebody can be a genius in maths and sciences, but without soft skills, they might not survive the pressures of the real world, much less of another country.