Navigating the Global Path: Learning at the International School of Penang (UPLANDS)

by Jane Gay

In the diverse landscape of education, international schools hold a distinct place, shaping the perspectives and expectations of their students in profound ways. As a formal International school student, my experience at The International School of Penang (UPLANDS), is a prime example of an institution that has played a pivotal role in shaping the educational expectations of its students – through global learning, enriched by dynamic teaching, holistic education, a multicultural environment and a commitment to social responsibility. Anchored in a mission to foster global-minded citizens while embracing the motto of “Respect for self, Respect for Others,” UPLANDS imbues its students with values that transcend borders and cultures.

Dynamic Teaching for a Global Mindset:

One of the defining features of the education at UPLANDS is the dynamic and high-quality teaching. As a student, I was exposed to a range of teaching methodologies and styles, encouraging critical thinking, creativity and adaptability. The diverse faculty brings an array of perspectives and pedagogical approaches, enriching the learning experience. This exposure equips students to navigate various educational settings and fosters a global mindset, essential for success in an interconnected world.

Holistic Learning Beyond Borders:

UPLANDS places a strong emphasis on holistic education. It’s not merely about academic excellence but also about nurturing well-rounded individuals. The institution actively encourages students to engage in extracurricular activities, community service, and character development programs. Through this approach, students are instilled with a sense of responsibility and a deeper understanding of the world around them, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries.

Embracing a Tapestry of Cultures:

UPLANDS celebrates its motto of “Respect for self, Respect for Others” through its multicultural and inclusive environment. Students are immersed in a rich tapestry of cultures, learning first-hand the importance of mutual respect. This multicultural exposure not only enriches their educational experience but also prepares them to be respectful and empathetic citizens of the world.

A Global Outlook and Social Responsibility:

UPLANDS instils a global outlook by incorporating global issues into its curriculum, fostering critical thinking about world challenges. Moreover, community service and social responsibility initiatives are integral parts of the school’s ethos. This commitment aligns seamlessly with the school’s mission to cultivate globally minded citizens, teaching students to respect themselves and others through active engagement with their communities.

Collaborative Learning for Future Leaders:

Collaborative and interactive learning is a cornerstone of education at UPLANDS. As a student, I actively engaged in group projects, discussions, and interactive activities, promoting teamwork, critical thinking, and effective communication. These skills, vital for future leaders, echo the values of respect for oneself and others, as students learn to collaborate and appreciate diverse perspectives.

Fast forward to today, I am working as the Head of Brand and Marketing at Leading Your International School. I have spoken with international school leaders from around the world to learn about their leadership practices. One of the key skills that I’ve learned throughout my career is that adaptability, cross-cultural communication, and empathy are critical to effective leadership in an international school context. As Conrad Hudges- Director General of the International School of Geneva, said in an interview with LYIS: “We are in an era when international schools are reinventing themselves as inclusive schools and leadership is focused more on the psychological, emotional, and cultural dimensions of leadership than on strategic, technical and logistical issues alone.”

Looking ahead, international schools are expected to evolve to meet the demands of an increasingly interconnected world and shape students to become global citizens. To create a more engaging learning experience, international schools can incorporate sustainability into the curriculum, emphasising environmental consciousness, and encouraging sustainable practices within the school community. My recent interview with Dr. Jadis Blurton- Head of School at The Harbour School Hong Kong, emphasised the need for experiential learning and a shift from traditional academic metrics to a more holistic evaluation of students, where the school focuses on experiential learning. This hands-on approach can help students develop problem-solving skills and practical knowledge, moving away from traditional academic metrics. Experiential learning provides students with practical knowledge and skills that are directly applicable to their future careers and daily lives. It bridges the gap between theory and practice by allowing students to see the real-world implications of what they learn. Moreover, learning in real-world contexts helps students understand the relevance and application of academic concepts. They see how these concepts manifest in different settings and how they are interconnected. This type of learning encourages students to reflect on their experiences and think critically about what they’ve learned. The reflection process enhances metacognition, helping students become more aware of their learning strategies and thought processes.

If your school needs support with its Leadership, Human Resources or Sustainability strategy, contact Leading Your International School and arrange a Free initial consultation of how we may be able to help.

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