Introduction

What makes a school International? And why does it matter?

Education has always been a tool for changing the world. People have fought for the right to be educated. Education has lifted people from poverty and delivered the world some of its greatest innovations. Imperial powers and regimes of all descriptions have used education to control, to rewrite history and enculture subjugated and oppressed indigenous populations. 

The period between the First and the Second World Wars in Europe saw a rise in the interest of education as a force for good to ensure that nothing so tragic should happen again. The world was changing and the education system, as it was, did not adequately prepare young people for the challenges they and their communities would face in life. A key figure in this movement was a German named Kurt Hahn who founded Schule Schloss Salem in 1920. Hanh emphasized the importance of outdoor education, community service, and experiential learning to instill leadership, self-discipline and moral values in the students. After leaving Germany in the early 1930s, Hanh went on to set up Gordonstoun School in Scotland, the Outward Bound movement in 1941 and Atlantic College, the first United World College, in 1962. His firm belief was that by educating people who had grown up in different countries, speaking different languages and bringing different experiences to the table we would have a greater understanding of one another and the foundation for a more peaceful world.

With the establishment of the United Nations after World War II came the agencies, commissions and bureaus of administration that required international teams to come together in one place, with New York, Geneva and Vienna serving as home to many. Nairobi, Rome, Bangkok and Santiago became regional centers for more UN work as the membership and scope of their work grew. With more people coming together the need to educate their children in an open, internationally-minded way, free from the bias and focus found in national education systems became clear. 

The International School of Geneva is one of the world’s oldest international schools and it was part of the development of the International Baccalaureate (IB) in the 1960s along with Hahn’s Atlantic College and the United Nations International School in Manhattan. Since then there has been a steady growth of international schools to meet the needs of increasingly diverse and mobile workforces who use English as a shared language. Germany now has over 30 international schools and since 2000 Thuringia International School has been serving the international and internationally minded community of Weimar, Jena, Erfurt and the wider state of Thuringia. ThIS is a member of the Association of German International Schools (AGIS) and is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) as well as being authorized to deliver the IB PYP, MYP and DP.

As an IB World School ThIS offers a curriculum based on the IB Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programme. What makes us a truly international school is that the teachers and support staff here have learned, lived and worked in many different countries and are able to bring their experiences and those of their students into the classroom as part of the teaching and learning experience.