David Wilcox (ACSI Global) challenges schools to think beyond their own cultures and geography in order to prepare their students to impact their world for Christ. This is one motivation for developing partnerships between schools of different cultures and contexts, which enables school leaders, teachers and students to communicate more effectively at many levels of learning and application. Learn more about ACSI Europe partnerships and collaboration opportunities here.

A Global Perspective for Christian Schools

intl flagsIs your school increasing students’ potential to succeed in more than one cultural context, or are they being prepared to be effective only in their home culture?

Has your school reviewed its expected student outcomes with a view to what new competencies might best prepare them for the decades to come? The goals of promoting the mind of Christ, encouraging godly character, and developing habits of a transformed heart will not need any revision, but what of new competencies and perspectives that will be most useful in our increasingly interconnected world? Perhaps the goals of Christian international schools can add perspective and spark dialogue in your school.

Cynthia Nagrath (2011) writes, “In order to be considered an actual international school, it is widely agreed that a school generally follows a national or international curriculum different from that of the host country. Additionally, an emphasis is placed on international education ... and global citizenship.”

Starting from that definition, your school could become more international no matter where it is located. If your school successfully becomes international, it will be distinctive in its desired outcomes, necessarily rigorous, professionally challenged, and perhaps exemplary in preparing students for service in more of God’s kingdom.

What Would It Take?

Being international means utilizing different curricular resources, targeting additional student learning outcomes, and modeling and fostering new perspectives.

Different Curricular Resources

Nagrath’s definition describes the curriculum of international schools as “different from that of the host country.” Schools in many countries have great freedom in what curricular programs and what resources they utilize. You don’t need to exclusively incorporate resources from your own country. These different curricular resources may be printed texts or electronic. Is this a “risky” strategy? Unusually, yes. Challenging for teachers? Perhaps. But the evidence of student performance—worldwide—shows it is not academically risky at all.

Additional Desired Outcomes—Global Competencies and Perspectives

International schools are distinct in that they seek an expanded set of competencies for their graduates. “Global citizenship” is a widely used term describing an ongoing educational reform movement. Beginning with a Christian worldview and a Christocentric understanding of our role as ministers of reconciliation, we can redeem this educational construct and embrace the goal of equipping students to be more effective as Christ-followers in a broken world. The domain in which He desires His followers to flourish is global (Revelation 7:9–10; Galatians 3:26–29; 1 Corinthians 12:12–27).

Global competencies (UNESCO 2014) include:

  • an understanding of the interdependence of economic, political, technological, environmental, and social systems worldwide;

  • the ability to communicate using multilingual skills, through emerging fluency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening and through the use of technologies; and

  • equipping learners to assume active roles to face and resolve global challenges and to become proactive contributors to a more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, and secure world.

An international education seeks to foster understanding, interdependence, communication, cooperation, as well as independence.

The desired student learning goals in a Christian school seeking to be authentically international would entail augmenting unit goals beyond what is taught in the surrounding “national” schools. It implies increasing the number of years teaching other modern languages— perhaps even incorporating foreign language instruction in every grade for all students.

The desired student competencies for communication in an international school might include being able to adapt their own written and spoken communication to be understood by a nonnative speaker and being able to solve problems collaboratively with individuals from diverse cultures.

Becoming an international school will foster the perspective that our foundational citizenship is that of Christ’s kingdom (Ephesians 2:12; Philippians 3:20). May graduates of Christian schools be more and different—so that His will might be done on earth as it is in heaven.

For Christ and His kingdom, be more than a national Christian school.

Article adapted from ACSI's CSE Volume 21 Number 2

Nagrath, Cynthia. 2011. What makes a school international? The International Educator (August 26).
UNESCO. 22014. Global citizenship education: Preparing learners for the challenges of the twenty-first century.

David Wilcox, PhD, is assistant vice president, ACSI Global, for Asia and Latin America.