Communicating and connecting

19th November 2004 at 00:00
This has been international education week which, like many such events, has passed off relatively quietly. Peter Peacock went to Brussels and met his counterparts from Finland and Germany. The intention was not to strengthen international understanding, as such, but to strengthen understanding of the performance of schools - part of the package to usher in "the most comprehensive schools modernisation programme in a generation".

No doubt this is of interest, although the fraught nature of such international comparisons might make one question the wisdom of it (we were once told on the highest authority that there are people in some Asian countries whose job it is to ensure that their young people do well in international surveys).

There could not be a greater contrast between these endeavours and the "global classroom" initiatives pioneered by Anderson High in Lerwick, on which we report this week (page six). Communicating and connecting are increasingly regarded as the very stuff of education. How much more important it is to extend that to the global arena at a time when there has rarely been a greater sense of hopelessness and pessimism about the world.

Children are entitled to have a fuller, rounder picture of that world than news bulletins provide.

International understanding is therefore more important than international comparisons. As one Lerwick student, a sight-impaired youngster, eloquently put it: "I might not be able to see the world but I've got to make sense of it."

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