ISJ Internation Schools Journal Envisioning the K-Graduate Education Paradigm
ACS Athens

ISJ November 2016: Breaking through the cultural bubble – International schools engaging at the local level


Susan Ledger


As the numbers of international schools flourish around the globe to that equivalent to the size of the Australian teaching workforce (Ledger, et al, 2015), it is timely to reflect on specific elements of the growing phenomenon. International schools in general have a unique sense of place because they are often removed from the national and local setting in which they are positioned. The teaching workforce contained within the walls of international schools has long been accused of perpetuating ‘cultural bubbles’ (Katz, 2011; Pearse, 1994), ‘expatriate enclaves’ (Caldwell et al, 2006) and as Shawn (2008) suggests ‘aristocratic domes for wealthy locals’. The social construct of ‘expat-mindedness’ is also observed as a phenomenon inherent within the ever-increasing mobile middle class workforce, including teachers in international schools (Ledger, 2014). Its attributes contradict and yet overlap those of ‘international mindedness’ commonly espoused by international school curricula. Differences between these social constructs relate to power and privilege and are often manifested in how these expatriate enclaves engage with the local environment.