ACS Egham Life
A celebration of our vibrant community
In this edition of #ACSEghamLife
Quality is everything
Learning from home together…again!
Building skills for the 21st century
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Wellbeing locked down
Never too young to be independent
Making a difference
Where are you from?
Keep in touch with ACS Egham
Quality is Everything
Head of School, Jeremy Lewis, explains what a renewed focus on quality means.
How do we define a quality education?
Something that you hear a lot about as a parent, teacher or student is the concept of 'quality education'. But what is meant by 'quality' and what are its indicators? From my perspective, the key to defining quality is analysing what it looks like in practice. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you what I believe to be the most significant indicators of a quality education at this point in time and how we, as a school community, are striving for this quality.
It challenges the norm
A quality education needs to be transformative and it needs to be confrontational – it needs to make people think and shift them out of their comfort zone. To truly deliver quality, you need to pose the difficult questions. This, of course, means challenging students in their thinking and encouraging them to dig deeper to develop their knowledge and overall self. But it also means having the confidence, as school leaders and educators, to question ourselves – to really look at the content we are delivering and question whether it is fit for purpose, current and engaging; whether it is authentic and really matters to the students who are receiving it and the teachers who are delivering it.
It takes knowledge beyond the classroom
True quality requires students to be empowered and engaged in their learning both inside and outside of the classroom. Quality education shines through in students’ understanding of classroom topics and in their exam result and, when young people have taken action as a result of what they have learned. Transferring something they have learned in the classroom to a different environment is a further indicator of quality. Any school can deliver the content, but to deliver a quality education we must facilitate the ownership and engagement of learning.
One of the things that’s been flourishing recently is the work that some of our students are doing with eco-awareness. What's really significant is that it is entirely student-driven, and very much includes all ages. It hasn't been a typical model of the older students leading the project, much of the drive has come from the younger children in the Lower School. I am often blown away by the 3rd and 4th Grade students; they are true thinkers, they tell it how it is and ask it how it is. The fact that they have the confidence to do this is a powerful indicator of quality.
It provides liberation of thought
Something that I am proud to say is a constant in our school is the sense that we are a place where risk is encouraged. We're not championing failure but we are championing risk and that is where quality comes from – it doesn’t come from being restrained, it comes from liberation of thought. This unrestricted thinking often shines through in students' exhibitions in Grade 5, Personal Projects in Grade 10, and Extended Essays in Grade 12.
The creative and impactful projects they come up with are a perfect example of how student engagement and empowerment drives quality. Despite the phenomenal end results we often see, the important part of these projects is not always the end-product – the key is that students have experienced the journey of creating something great which they are passionate about and interested in – and have learnt the value of reflecting on that journey.
It encourages collaboration
Something we are frequently striving to achieve at ACS Egham is collaboration – student-to-student, student-to-teacher, parent-to-school and also interdisciplinary subject-to-subject. Purposefully-designed spaces are incredibly important for facilitating this collaboration – spaces which enable students to work in small or large groups and allow free-flow between spaces.
How you use space is an extension of how you want your students to learn and interact, and quality education is often about understanding how students learn best – this is very different to the way we learnt 30 or 40 years ago and we need to represent this in how we use space and furniture.
Using space in innovative ways can also help break down traditional subject silos and enable greater inter-disciplinary learning. This is essential to quality education as it allows the learner to think more globally and less restrictively, and automatically helps them to learn to see the parallels and connections between subjects. In the world of work, this is exactly what you need individuals to be able to do.
It shines through in student behaviour
The International Baccalaureate's (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) and Middle Year's Programme (MYP) results are a very good indicator of quality education – and we are enormously proud of the results our students achieve – but it is important to remember that exam results do not tell the whole story. A lot of the quality lies above and beyond that. It shines through in students' confidence, resourcefulness and resilience, their respect for their teachers and, in turn, their teachers' respect for them.
Someone said to me a couple of years ago that it is the ACS Egham students that often have the most impactful and positive influence over each other's development. It is not cool here to do badly or disrespect your teachers. It is cool to do well in class, in sports and in co-curricular activities in general, and it is cool to be kind to teachers and your peers.
Jeremy Lewis, Head of School
Every single day throughout our school, we are fortunate to see many of these indicators of quality shining through, but I believe it is the students at ACS Egham that are the biggest demonstrators of what a quality education looks like. They are genuinely proud of their school, and that makes me very proud of them.
Learning from home together...
What have we learned since the first lockdown in March 2020, and how are things different this time around?
Dr Robert Harrison, Education Strategy Director, shares his thoughts.
Learning from home together... again!
Some students around the world are rounding the corner on an entire year of learning at home, distanced from their usual school-based classrooms.
Thanks to the coronavirus, schools around the UK joined them again in January as on-campus learning was suspended for most students. In reality, handfuls of students have been cycling in and out of distance learning for months as travel restrictions, quarantines and self-isolation have kept them at home. What have we learned since the first lockdown in March 2020, and how are things different this time around?
1. Consistency and connections are key
Teachers and school leaders have responded to feedback from students and parents about what they need when learning is almost all online. Divisions have consolidated learning plans so that it’s clear when things are happening, how ‘going to class’ works, and where to find (and return) assignments. Expectations for attendance and engagement have been communicated, and early warning systems are in place for students who may need some additional support. Advisors and learning support teachers are checking in, and monitoring wellbeing. School leaders are ‘visiting’ online classes and setting high expectations for engagement and interaction. Zoom breakout rooms and collaborative teaching strategies are widespread, and growing richer by the day.
2. Technology can enable learning
Not surprisingly, when schools moved online, it became more important than ever to use screen time wisely.
New platforms, resources, applications and learning engagements have become mainstream as our overall capacity continues to grow for teaching through technology. Teachers began by trying to recreate their on-campus environments, and quickly learned that some approaches don’t translate well. For many teachers and school leaders, lockdown learning has been a time of extraordinary professional growth and development. Even extracurricular sports programmes have moved onscreen, and students have more opportunities than ever to explore learning on their own since the world of education has moved online.
3. The brain is part of your body, too
Educational psychologists and neuroscientists help to remind us that learning is a whole-body affair. Where we work, the way we sit, the food we eat, the sleep we have, the exercise we take, our state of mind, our attention and cognitive arousal, the emotional condition and background of our lives – all of these things affect our ability to learn. Everyone working from home (parents and children alike) needs to attend to their physical and emotional wellbeing carefully. Staying motivated takes enormous self-awareness and benefits from social interaction. School has to be seriously fun. Most of us will need help from time to time to keep our spirits up and our minds in gear.
Learning how to stay onboard is an essential educational outcome, and there is no better way to gain experience than learning in a lockdown.
Dr Robert Harrison, Education Strategy Director
Academic stress is part of life for school-age children, and there are ways to help them manage.
4. It’s a family thing
Home is not school, and parents are not teachers…and yet they are (and actually, always have been). When everyone is working and learning from home, there are often demands on space, time, attention – not to mention bandwidth!
Families need to make a collective plan, and share each other’s challenges. Parents need to think about how much help to give, when to let their children stumble and try again, and where they can support learning most effectively by doing it together. Our Parents’ Guide to Distance Learning has sound advice. You may also find it useful to join this conversation between Dr Alex Reed, one of ACS’s digital learning leaders, and a parent who has questions about how it’s all supposed to work.
5. Real change is possible, but it won’t come easy
The world probably has months of disruption still ahead. Yet many organisations are already thinking about what comes next, and what we will be able to bring forward with us into the post-pandemic world. A few brave souls have even suggested that in some ways, kids are better off with distance learning! While we can’t wait to welcome everyone back to campus, ACS teachers and school leaders will be incorporating what they’ve learned about remote learning into the classrooms of the future.
In a recent survey of teachers in the United States, one-third report that they will use what they’ve learned by teaching online to better support student-centred learning practices such as creating individualised learning progressions, facilitating project-based learning, helping students practice new skills with adaptive learning software, enabling mastery-based learning, and keeping track of individual students’ learning progress. Will we be able to preserve those gains and make part of common practice? Time will tell.
- Remote education is just another way to deliver the curriculum
- Keep it simple
- Focus on the basics
- Feedback, practice and monitoring progress remain important
- Use the right tools and devices for learning
- Live lessons aren’t always best
- Engagement matters, but it’s only a start.
Some sensible reminders from Ofsted about remote education.
You can read about ACS’s ever-stronger remote education provision here. And you can be sure that we are always learning, at school and at home, in the classroom and beyond.
Building skills for the 21st century workplace
Bill Belcher, Head of Design & Technology
Building skills for the 21st century workplace
The workplaces of today, and undoubtedly of the future, require a diverse range of skills and capabilities. Workers of the future not only need to have technical abilities, but they need to be able to communicate, think creatively and solve problems. Although I may be somewhat biased, I believe design and technology, in particular the International Baccalaureate (IB) course offering at our school, is in a unique position to help students develop these work-ready skillsets.
Through design and technology, students have the opportunity to become tech-savvy learners, but they are also given the freedom to apply their technical skills in creative ways. This is beneficial in two ways – first, they are more engaged with the technical and coding side of things, and second, it introduces them to the innovative, creative thinking they will need to apply in any job they choose to pursue.
Take programming, for example. From as young as Grade 6, students are introduced to the world of programming, first trying their hands at coding with BBC Micro:bits and using these skills to control the movement of a robot. Here, they master the skill of inputting code to control something in a certain way, and they are also encouraged to think about how these functions could be applied in more complex contexts – such as how do you programme a robot to land on Mars?
In Grade 8, students take on an app design project using MIT App Inventor. They research creating a new app based on a theme of their choice and then set about designing and building it – the project is entirely student-led; we just provide them with the tools and students then go forward with their own ideas. Eventually, as they go up through the school, students are able to progress to more technical software like Java, and similarly have the opportunity to apply their skills in creative ways, thinking about wider problems they might solve.
The beauty of the IB's framework is that it constantly encourages students to find solutions to problems.
Bill Belcher, pictured above with a class.
Throughout all of the IB's courses – whether it be mathematics or drama – a focus is placed on becoming a global citizen and applying knowledge to build a better world. In line with this philosophy, the theme for the Middle Years Programme (MYP) students' design e-portfolios last year was waste reduction and sustainability. This resulted in student work ranging from architect projects looking at creating houses out of recycled containers, to sledges made out of recycled rubbish – which the students even managed to sell at our school's Winter Wonderland!
The importance of sustainable materials is something that any architect or product designer is acutely aware of and this has become an ongoing focus throughout our design and technology courses. If students can understand the importance of sustainability and come up with innovative and unique ways to design and create more environmentally-friendly products now, imagine what they could be capable of in their futures.
The skills that students develop through the design and technology offering – which includes everything from programming and product design, to architecture and multi-media design - often shine through when it comes to the MYP personal projects.
This year, despite COVID-19 circumstances, we're seeing a fantastic variety of projects in the making. One student, Anna, is using her textiles skills to create COVID-secure face masks; another student, Andrei, is using his CAD skills to design a back protector that can be sewn inside a t-shirt. It's safe to say that the 3D printers are always on the go!
Andrei's backpack protector
When students get to the Diploma Programme (DP) things get even more sophisticated. Charlotte, a student in Grade 12, is currently designing a desk that can fit into small spaces for those working from home but with little room to do so.
Building on the sustainability theme, last year a Grade 12 student, Ellen, frustrated by the amount of waste left after festivals, collected up some tents and recycled the material to make waterproof clothing.
Another student, Sam, designed and 3D-printed an attachment for a mobile phone which has a fibre optic cable inside it – the idea being that you could clip it over your phone and direct the light to look around tight corners. He actually used and tested this during his Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) project where he worked at Brooklands Museum, the aviation museum in Surrey, helping to fix and renovate planes.
There are so many mind-blowing projects like this, I couldn't possibly name them all, but it does make me feel incredibly proud to be able to provide young people with the skills and tools they need to run away with these amazing ideas and turn them into real, usable and often game-changing products.
In tomorrow's world I believe that technical skills like programming will be invaluable no matter what profession an individual chooses to pursue, and if we can encourage young people to take their technical skills and apply them in creative ways, well, I think they will be flying.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Dominique Dalais on the inspiration behind the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
There has been a lot of media talk of diversity, and inclusion in the world and in education this year. As a teacher at ACS Egham, in touch with students and colleagues every day, I have been considering inclusion versus equity. I believe international schools can play their part in leading the push for system-level change that will bring about not just inclusion but also equity in all our lives.
Inclusion is no bad thing, of course, but I'd like society to go further, to ensure the BAME members of our society are more than just included but also considered an equal part of the society, in which we all exist.
Black Lives Matter: Tackling racism
This is where equity comes in. Equity isn’t just about giving people what they need, it is about changing the system that brought about inequity in the first place. We need to give advantages to those who have been disadvantaged and give minority groups the opportunity to have an advantage and a platform in situations they never had before.
That is how we redress the balance. That is how we strive toward equality where everyone really has an equal chance because the systems could become equal. And when this opportunity comes we must take action in meaningful and impactful ways.
At ACS Egham we have a diverse student population and a diverse teaching demographic, so the subjects of inclusion and equity are very real to all of us everyday. This year, I have been instrumental in setting up a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council across our three UK-based ACS International Schools.
This was something I initiated from the need for minority groups within the school to have a voice. Nothing like this had been done before and now was the time to start on the back of the Black Lives Matter movement and its growing momentum.
The school's board and senior leadership teams are backing the council, and are involved and are supporting what we are trying to do. We are establishing conversations and building interest among staff at all the schools.
This led to over 25 people not only expressing an interest but also sharing their thoughts and feelings with their ideas of possible changes and approaches that could be taken.
We are at an early stage of this work and ACS, like many schools and other organisations, is learning how to broaden inclusion and support equity across the community. We have begun to take action to make our communities more aware of some of the areas for development in our society and in our school.
The recent Wear Red Day for the Show Racism the Red Card campaign was a great example of the community coming together to show their support for such an important topic. All three UK campuses took part in one of the biggest cross-campus events in recent history. Many students also voiced their interest in supporting the campaign of their own volition.
Staff and students were encouraged to wear red, and they put on events such as football tournaments, created videos and posters to raise awareness and host fundraising drives. Over £1,000 was raised for the campaign in total.
Through the early beginnings of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, we are already having an impact in school but are also making a difference in our local community’s thoughts and feelings about racism.
This has been done, in part, by creating a stronger student council, who are taking action to support and raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement and locally-owned black businesses. One initiative they led was hosting a raffle in support of Blueprint For All, formerly known as the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. The items for the raffle were bought from locally-owned black businesses.
A further education goal close to my heart is to diversify the curriculum by looking at more inclusive units that have historically been taught in the Upper School. It will take time to see this through, but it’s a journey I am glad we have started. We are determined to expose to our community the issues in our society, so they can think and act appropriately and we can bring true equality to our school and our community. Ours is a diverse and international school community and we are better placed than many to show society what equity really looks like.
Dominique Dalais is Head of Physical and Health Education, and racial equity facilitator at ACS Egham.
Wellbeing locked down
It's easy to feel overwhelmed. Every day kindnesses and mind exercises are important for wellbeing. Health and Safety Manager, Eddy Schlachter, explains.
Wellbeing in lockdown
The coronavirus pandemic has not been good for our mental health, something on which almost everyone can agree. Experts are particularly concerned about children, many of whom have expressed feelings of increased anxiety, social isolation, and depression. Never has it been more important for us to talk honestly about how the last year’s interruptions in routine and new ways of living in the world have affected the wellbeing of our families, schools, and communities.
Building resilience relies on routines, reassurance and reflection, all of which are critical to our mental health.
We all benefit from the confidence that comes from exerting control over our little corners of the world. We can remind ourselves that this will not last forever, and that we can all still grow through adversity by making progress where we can. And we can remember that even amongst the uncertainty, we have much to be grateful for, including strong networks of caring adults and a wide range of resources to support each other when times are tough.
Wellbeing is broad concept that wraps around a holistic vision of education.
Our wellbeing strategy at ACS takes a broad view of concept, identifying five areas that were defined in a 2016 paper from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):
- cognitive wellbeing: the knowledge, skills and foundations students have to participate in today’s society, as lifelong learners, effective workers and engaged citizens
- psychological (mental) wellbeing: how students view their lives, their engagement with school, and the goals and ambitions they have for their future
- physical wellbeing: their health, engagement in physical exercise and the adoption of healthy eating habits
- social wellbeing: the quality of their social lives including their relationships with their family, their peers and their teachers
- material wellbeing: the resources that make it possible for families to provide for their children’s needs and for schools to support students’ learning and healthy development.
Wellbeing is not just the absence of disease or illness, but is more a complex combination of a person's physical, mental, emotional and social health factors which is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction.
In a pandemic like the one we have all been living through, every dimension of wellbeing is under pressure. Are students learning enough? Are their futures being compromised, and their mental health impaired? Are our families safe from illness? When can we be reunited with relatives and friends? How will the world return to normal, and where will we find the resources to rebuild large segments of society that have been devastated by a virus that thrives on human interaction
Eddy Schlachter, Health and Safety Manager, ACS International Schools
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
CASEL, a global leader in best practice for social and emotional learning, suggests some ways we can take care of each other in a crisis, even when we don’t know all the answers yet:
- reaching out to others individually and communicating that we value them and their contributions to us and to the wider world
- following up on topics that are of importance to the people with whom we interact, to show them they are known and cared for
- planning conversations and activities that cultivate a culture of personal connection and belonging
- inviting others to identify feelings, reflect on experiences, and talk through what’s happening with family and friends
- exploring and affirming diverse identities and cultures, taking time to learn about each other’s lives
- asking open-ended questions to surface thinking and invite those we love to elaborate on their responses
- reflecting on what makes us feel successful or challenged, and making small plans for step-by-step improvement
- recognising that some problems are too complex for friends to manage with each other, and referring each other to more skilled helpers when that happens.
These everyday kindnesses and habits of mind are important for wellbeing. They represent the broader principles of our strategic wellbeing plan for the ACS community. Our whole-school approach is building a strong collaborative foundation that will outlast the COVID-19 crisis.
We are creating partnerships to support health, safety and wellbeing for parents, students, teachers, school leaders, senior managers, and trustees. By working with leading organisations, we are benefitting from their expertise and experience, extending the skilled and caring community of advisors, counsellors and safeguarding leads who look after our students’ wellbeing every day. We are expanding our capacity to identify people in distress by training all staff in mental, as well as physical, first aid. Our new student mental health policy looks closely at the connections between community, wellbeing, diversity and inclusion.
In the end, wellbeing is about retaining our balance in a wobbly world. Our aspiration is well-expressed in the IB Learner Profile:
We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives – intellectual, physical, and emotional – to achieve wellbeing for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live.
IB Learner Profile
For few times in recent history, have those words been so important, and so true.
Never too young to be independent
Poonam Patnaik on teaching our young learners to thrive
Never too young to be independent
As the impact of COVID-19 continues, the importance of developing children to be independent thinkers who genuinely want to learn is crystal clear. This is something that is important at anytime, of course. The pandemic has, however, brought this into sharper perspective.
True independent study is something that many young people don’t experience until they get to university level. But, why is this? The careers of today, and undoubtedly of the future, rarely involve 100% instruction in what you need to do – instead you are required to take initiative and be a self-starter. Now more than ever young people are being required to self-motivate and it’s therefore critical that even the youngest learners have the ability and independence to take ownership for driving their education forward.
This independence should start in the classroom, but can be continued at home through parental encouragement. Our early years teachers aim to put students in the driving seat of their learning right from day one. The PYP develops well-rounded, resilient and independent young people.
From the very beginning, children are given voice, choice and ownership of their learning and have the agency to take a lead.
Poonam Patnaik - ACS Egham Grade 4 Teacher
But what do we mean by agency? Agency is the ability for young learners to have more direction over their learning; they are encouraged to reflect on what they have learnt and the actions they have taken to develop a better understanding of why, how and what they learn.
For example, one of the six PYP units of inquiry is ‘How we express ourselves’ and this year, as we cannot visit theatres, the High School drama students put on a production for our Lower school students. When the younger students came back to the classroom, they were asked some teacher-led questions to help them reflect on ‘how we express ourselves’ and make the connection between what they are learning and what they had just seen. Open-ended questions like ‘What did you think?’, ‘What was the purpose of that?’, ‘Why did we go there?’ and ‘What did you learn?’ give children time to ponder and reflect but also encourage them to be the ones asking the questions. In this way, we are developing inquisitive minds that want to learn, not just have to learn.
Show Racism The Red Card
As well as reflection, action is another important aspect of developing independent learners. The Lower School has been focussing on the ‘Who We Are’ PYP unit of inquiry, where students look into the nature of the self and what it means to be human. The class chooses a topic or scenario that is close to their lives and, this year, across the board the children decided they wanted to focus on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Collectively, the students and their teacher decided they would work towards raising awareness via the show the Racism the Red Card day and, from there, the project was entirely led by the children – from coming up with new creative ways to fundraise in light of COVID restrictions, to making posters and writing communications for the parents, it was a completely student-led project.
Children enjoy taking responsibility and ownership of what they're doing. They thrive when they're treated as equals and, rather than being told what to do, the teacher lets them guide the activity. Rigid structures around learning are removed and children have the freedom to explore areas of interest.
Developing independent thinkers and learners in the classroom is one step, but to really accelerate children’s confidence in driving their own learning, it’s important that parents are equipped to continue this style of learning at home.
Some creative ways parents can encourage their child’s independent learning skills, include:
Questions, questions questions: Each day, if you are able, ask your child open questions like ‘what one thing you learned that was really important for you today?’, ‘what did you find interesting?’, ‘how will you apply what you’ve learnt?’ Encourage them to reflect on their learning and, as a result, you will inspire excitement and interest
Create space for conversation: As well as asking questions, be prepared to answer them! Student voice means that children are encouraged to share their learning and opinions but this only works if parents can show an interest and engage in the conversation
Take their advice: Let your child to be the ‘spokesperson’ of the house. When it comes to issues like Black Lives Matter that children are talking and thinking about at school, let them educate you on the topic – value their opinions and knowledge and you might just learn something too!
The benefit of this is that we are developing independent learners who can articulate their thoughts and have the confidence to express them without worrying about making a mistake.
These are the learners who will thrive in the classroom, but will also be more resilient to hurdles and changes when they face them.
These are skills they will take with them right through their school years to university and beyond.
Ms Grace encouraging individual expression
As we all pray that the world soon returns to some form of normality, I sincerely hope aspects of independent learning will become more widely embedded into education and the curriculum going forward. When the road ahead is so unclear, it’s critical our children are prepared with skills to navigate it.
Making a difference
How Egham students are going the extra mile.
News in brief
Although we have not been able to visit, due to the pandemic, this does not mean that work has not continued in our absence. We are delighted that new classrooms were finished just before Christmas and a new toilet block is underway. We are also very proud of the legacy programme we set up to offer scholarships to students to continue their education.
One of those students, Shisham Kunwar, is currently making a difference in her home country. As part of her studies in human rights law, she is currently teaching a class on empowerment to young women who have left school early. Shisham has also just completed a clinical law course through the United Nations Development Program, during which she had the opportunity to sit down with the Deputy Mayor and Assistant Police Sub Inspector of Panchkal, as well as the Deputy Secretary of Kathmandu Prison. During her visit to the prison, Shisham was able to collect information about treatment of prisoners and programmes for their rehabilitation.
High School students' food drive
Jack and Andreas, two High School Students, decided to create a food drive earlier this school year.
With COVID-19 impacting others' lives so drastically, we felt compelled to help. As a result, we decided to use the main resource we had access to, our school. With the help of some teachers and classmates we began to work on the food drive. We teamed up with Runnymede Food Bank and they told us what was needed. In our first donation we delivered 104.25kg worth of items.
Jack and Andreas
"The community can help by continuing to donate whatever they can. Although it may seem redundant to continue to donate, COVID-19 has led to an increase in people being homeless and hungry.
"The need for non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and more has never been higher. I don't see an end date for the Food Bank anytime soon, as people will always need some extra help. All your help so far has been greatly appreciated and we and Runnymede's Food Bank appreciate all the future donations once we are back in school".
Where are you from?
Christopher O’Shaughnessy explores what it means to be a Third Culture Kid.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
It may seem like a straightforward question, but for some the answer may be far from simple. Third Culture Kids (“TCKs”) are those who’ve grown up with multiple cultural influences during their developmental years, usually with a big degree of transience – and for them the answer to “Where are you from?” may be complex, but reveals a beautiful and increasingly important story of identity, adaptability, and relevance in an increasingly globalised world.
Just about every student attending an international school is a TCK: they’re influenced by the culture they experience at home as well as the unique culture that makes up the international school experience – this is where they gain valuable skills in cross-cultural understanding and a broad worldview. Many students aren’t originally from the country they attend school in, and so experience it as a host culture alongside their home and school life.
Being a TCK doesn’t mean all of the cultures you experience meld together, it’s more like having access to a hallway that connects the different rooms representing the cultures that are a part of your life, and having the ability to move in and out of each room as necessary. All of this adds to the rich diversity that makes TCKs a powerful force in a world moving closer and closer to their own experience.
Being a TCK comes with a wealth of advantages: an extensive relationship bank, broader worldview, increased adaptability, and extensive practice at building friendships, and of course – adaptability.
There are also some specific challenges to the experience of growing up amongst worlds. TCKs tend to struggle with conflict resolution since they usually can fall back on transience allowing them to simply avoid or wait out conflict. They can also focus so much on adaptability that they don’t devote enough attention to building a core sense of identity. TCKs also struggle with more unresolved grief than many of their more stationary counterparts.
Having the language and framework to make sense of the TCK identity and story goes a long way to help ensure these young people can make the most of their strengths and address the challenges they’re more likely to face. This is all the more important as many sociologists have noted that “TCKs are the prototype citizen of the future.” (Ted Ward). As the world becomes more globally connected and transient, everyone will need the skills TCKs develop, and everyone will face the challenges they do now.
Born in England as a military brat to American parents, author and speaker Christopher O’Shaughnessy has lived and worked across the globe and to date has ventured to more than 100 countries. Tales from these experiences form part of the fabric of Chris’ work and have helped shape his passion for helping the world benefit from the experience of expats, global nomads, and cross-cultural communities. The effects of globalisation, technological advances, and rapidly changing sociological trends have presented the world with new challenges, but also new tools and possibilities at every level: from individuals to communities, from companies to countries.
Keep in touch with ACS Egham
Find out here how to join our expanding social media platforms.
KEEP IN TOUCH WITH ACS EGHAM
Our social media continues to grow and inform our community.
With the ever-increasing importance of our social media platforms, ACS Egham has expanded its presence over the last year to ensure our community is aware of all the wonderful activities that take place day to day on our campus.
ACS Egham Facebook - @ACSEgham
ACS Egham Instagram - @acseghamschool
ACS Egham Sports Instagram - @acseghamsport
Explore and join our social media channels!
Here are a couple of highlights from our recent social media posts on our three main platforms at ACS Egham.