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School Ties: On Global and International Educations

January 08, 2016

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Whilst at University, one of the most interesting pieces of research I took part in was about social capital and the value of social connections in economics. In particular, I found the ideas of Granovetter and his ideas of The Strength of Weak Ties really interesting and enlightening to my approach to teaching.

At the core of Granovetter’s idea is that it is our weaker connections -- our connections with people outside our immediate circles and day-to-day lives that are of the most value to us. We are more likely to learn from and gain from those with whom we have less in common because we tend to surround ourselves and spend our day with people with similar lives, interests, experiences and therefore with similar knowledge. More novel information and knowledge is transferred through people we know less than through our stronger social connections.

I have chosen to focus on this idea because I think it is one of the greatest opportunities available to our students at British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park. Our students are continuously introduced to a plethora of people and institutions with which they have these weaker ties. Therefore, they are constantly gaining vast new pieces of knowledge at an incredible rate. Firstly, their teachers and peers come from all over the world. They have different cultures and different experiences and our students may never have met them outside the international school system.

Furthermore, through the international education system they have access to the amazing schools led by Nord Anglia across the world. The Global Campus and the school’s curriculum allow them to communicate and be introduced to these invaluable weaker ties from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Our students at BISC Lincoln Park are being educated in a real life Facebook where they can be taught by, taught with, and connected to Granovetter’s Weaker Ties, which give them new exciting knowledge and opportunities not often available in other schools.

Adam Hopps

Teacher of French