“International schools have great potential to play an important role in resolving the many complex crises we face in the world – by building empathy and respect between nations and networks of young people,” states the Director General of the International Baccalaureate about the growing number of international schools on a global scale.

“But this is only possible if we act both locally and globally and perceive ourselves as an anchor institution in the communities in which we live.”, he continues to elaborate. The International School Carinthia (ISC) has established itself as this anchor institution in southern Austria. We are so much more than an English language school. We have become the hub of international exchange between families from Austria and the world. Every day we experience this exchange of cultures and perspectives personally. The IBO mission statement is at the heart of our school:

“The International Baccalaureate® aims to educate curious, knowledgeable and caring young people who, through intercultural understanding and respect, will help create a better and more peaceful world.” This mission is omnipresent in the rooms and corridors of ISC. Our faculty bring the experience of many different cultures with them. This open exchange contributes significantly to the uniqueness of our institution.

However, not only international families and teachers feel addressed and touched by ISC, there are many Austrian families who whole-heartedly support the appreciative exchange of ideas for the next generation. The IB program not only meets the academic requirements of most nations in the world, but also represents the multicultural climate in our globalized world.

The concept-oriented and interdisciplinary learning of the individual programs deserves special mention. In the PYP (Primary Years Program), young students are confronted with concepts such as: Who am I in place and time?, which leads to a deep analysis of one’s own identity and are geared towards commonalities in people and cultures to filter out and not differences. Of course, this takes place at an age-appropriate level and is often made visible to the school community through presentations and gallery walks.

In the MYP (Middle Years Program) research-based, interdisciplinary learning reaches its climax and concludes in MYP 5 with the Personal Project. The Personal Project is defined by the Design Cycle and each student follows his/her own idea, defines an action plan, makes a prototype and tests his/her idea. Again, the results will be visualized and celebrated in an exhibition with the school community.

The DP (Diploma Program) is probably the most demanding secondary education program that currently exists on an international level. Characterized by a central curriculum, the final exams of which are held at the same time worldwide.

With all the rigor of the programs, one must never forget the service component when describing the IB program. Each of the three programs has a large volunteering component. In the MYP this is Service as Action and in the DP Creativity Action Service.
In order to receive an international diploma, every student must demonstrate extensive civic engagement in addition to the pre-scientific work (in the DP this is called an extended essay). This can take place in the local community or at an international level.

Concept-oriented and research-based teaching and learning is increasingly finding its way into the Austrian curricula. The necessity of networked thinking is becoming more and more present in today’s world. Learning concepts that can be applied in unfamiliar situations will have to be a fundamental skill in the future in order to be able to approach and solve problems. Subject-specific work will of course always be necessary in different industries, but in order to be able to achieve growth and change, collaborative work will come to the forefront.

The International School in Carinthia gives people something that many have been looking for. I can speak for myself as an American Carinthian. It is a sense of belonging, a newly defined internationality in which we finally find a voice for the needs that lie dormant within us to be different and yet belong. Belonging to a beautiful country and community has made ISC-International School Carinthia the lighthouse for many international families in Carinthia.

Ines Schreiner

Director ISC