Having travelled to many countries, taught students from many countries, lived in some countries and worked in a few countries, I realized that there is a common thread amongst international educators, we have a high DQ or Diversity Quotient. We as international educators understand the nuances of living in a multicultural, diverse and pluralistic domain. We as international educators are also responsible to teach and nurture global citizens of tomorrow. This responsibility is so massive that sometimes we find ourselves questioning the whole definition of diversity and international mindedness, as there are many factors that influence the diversity quotient or DQ of a student. These factors influence the student’s image of the world and surprisingly their journey to be a global citizen, some of these factors define as well as contradict the very essence of international mindedness. Hence there is no perfect definition of a global citizen or of international mindedness, and there is no full proof way of measuring DQ.
Language: I believe language influences DQ the most. The schools that I worked in have been bilingual or native language or English language schools. In my current school, most students learn three languages and at the same time, some students only speak one language. Hence it is not possible to have a benchmark of a number of languages required to develop a DQ or even have a requirement of speaking a common language. In an interesting discussion with a language teacher, I was surprised to discover that many people including students and parents associate speaking English to being internationally-minded hence having a high DQ. A lot of teachers on the other hand associate multilingualism to a high DQ. At the very core of communication is language but unfortunately, it cannot be a benchmark to measure DQ.
Should students speak one language to be able to communicate with most of the people in the world or should they at least know three languages in order to understand most of the people in the world?
Nationality: Nationality cannot be measured by an identity card or passport, the very simple reason being it does not allow the plurality of identity which is a reality in the globalized world. Consider this scenario, Chinese nationals cannot be admitted in international schools in China, hence many families opt for citizenship of another country, this leads to a situation where a student can have a Canadian passport but has never been to Canada nor spoken the language common in Canada-English. An ID or a passport satisfies legal requirements but does not reveal the true individuality of a student, hence nationality cannot indicate the person’s ability to understand and respect other people’s opinions. If not, then is it right to ask for nationality in every school application? We just limit ourselves by sorting people in different categories, more like creating stereotypes.
The nationality index published by many schools and organisations never truly represents its diversity, in fact, it cannot, as the population is more diverse than just the nationalities it represents.
Curriculum: While there has been a significant shift in curriculum design to include and teach international mindedness, they are still no frameworks to assess and measure DQ. This basically means we can teach how to be a global citizen, but we cannot measure if we succeeded or if it is helping to nurture these internationally-minded global citizens. For example, the inquiry-based approach is facilitated with a questioning strategy that is also painstakingly planned by teachers. Interestingly in many cultures questioning is considered rude; in some languages, the direct translation of ‘question’ is a ‘problem’; hence students don’t want to ask questions or their problems in front of an entire class and the inquiry approach takes a big hit. In such a context it is counterproductive to push students through an inquiry-based dialogical pedagogy in which student participation is key to achieving the lesson objective. Some educators argue that students need to learn inquiry hence should be ‘taught’ to ask questions; which is a contradiction to inquiry. Hence curriculum design or framework has to understand and cater to diverse cultures, one framework or one approach cannot sustain diversity. This may help us educators figure out a way to measure DQ.
True international curriculum needs to integrate the local culture into a global perspective-a Glocal Curriculum.
Diversity Quotient will continue to baffle educators, we need to constantly respond to needs of various cultures in order to even begin to understand the power of diversity in shaping the thoughts, ideas, imagination, creativity and ideas of our students. Trying to teach singularity or unite under the pretext of diversity cannot define DQ. The objective to coexist with diverse people from around the world cannot be ‘taught’, it has to be experienced, heard, felt, spoken many times in many languages in many places to truly develop DQ.
Identifying race, religion, colour has created stereotypes, preaching patriotism has led to war, single language dominance has led to discrimination, celebrating unity has led to racism. Should we teach patriotism, unity and one language in order to live peacefully?