Young people throughout different cultures and circumstances are confronted with the complex contradictions of the interconnected, interdependent systems in our world (e.g. climate change, human migration, terrorism, substance use, etc.). An essential question for the future of education is how do we help students to reflect on, deeply understand and respond mindfully and compassionately rather than just feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of these systems. With the growing interest in education in social and emotional learning (SEL) and mindfulness today, we feel it is especially timely to show how these can combine with skills in understanding systems and complexity to establish a cognitive and affective foundation for global citizenship and what the IB network calls “International Mindedness.”
For over a year, this has been in focus for a diverse group of educators and researchers from the IB, MIT and Penn State University, and a series of prototypes across the K-12 spectrum have been started in 10 different countries (including European, African, Asian and North American sites) in 2017. These involve new models of thinking and teaching that combine contemplative SEL, systems thinking and compassion and help teachers and students to apply these skills to important issues in the reality.