Working Across Cultures: the Cultural Challenge for International School Leaders

Speaker: Peter Welch
Institution: International School of Helsinki, Finland

This session addresses the following questions:

  1. How do we gently and meaningfully challenge the western framework of values and assumptions that govern most international schools? How do we prepare this generation of learners to be ready for a world in which eastern influences will be increasingly important?
  2. Which tools and strategies can we use in schools to develop our colleagues' and students' cross-cultural competency (sometimes called CQ)? If we understand that successful leadership in international schools is based on high level cross-cultural competency, which tools and strategies can be used to further develop CQ in our leaders?
  3. How do we gently challenge traditional models of international school leadership to embrace more diversity of voices in these roles?

When addressing these questions, the Richard Lewis model is drawn from with regard to a diagnostic tool for mapping cultural dispositions leading to a discussion on how these ideas can be adapted to an educational context. The presenter has given multiple presentations on this subject at CEESA (Central and Eastern European Schools Association) conferences. The presenter is trained to use the Richard Lewis Model of cultural diagnostic software (CultureActive - cultureactive.com). This tool maps an individual's cultural disposition against cultural norms. It also provides a wealth of information on cultural norms for communication, leadership, meeting styles and so on. It is a tool that can easily be adapted to an educational context. Together with the Richard Lewis Group and a training partner in Italy, the International School of Helsinki is currently bidding for an Erasmus grant. This will help fund research to develop specific tools for educators and students towards the advancement of cultural competency. 


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