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International Schools: Europe

Learning Outside the International School Classroom: A Student’s View

Two international school students share their experience of learning through Arts and Sports in an international school setting.

The Value of Arts

“Learning follows many and varying forms at ISB, from work inside the classroom to studying at home and listening to the stories and perspectives of other students. However, for me and many other individuals like me, the stage and art studio provide two other important educational arenas ideal for developing skills in teamwork, leadership and interdependence.

Take, for example, a musical production. Each cast member must become familiar with their roles and work individually, on their own time, to develop their acting, singing and backstage skills. When rehearsals approach, they then must blend together as a team to bring the show to performance level. Naturally, there will be leaders, apart from the teacher, who help shape the flow of the rehearsals and the production as a whole and, while similar skills and values can be learnt in a classroom setting, here students can often appreciate, first hand, the power, significance and synergy of working together to create something beautiful.

At ISB, we are very fortunate to have not only a sophisticated theatre, but a dedicated and talented faculty, to guide students in their musical, acting, and artistic endeavours. They recognize the importance of learning through alternative means – not just through traditional ‘academics’. Being a musician and actor, I can say that I am lucky and privileged to have spent my high school years at ISB.”

Drew Zaremba, International School of Brussels

Sport provides common ground and an opportunity for all

“As an American living overseas, I use athletics as a means to adapt while moving from country to country. The Sports programme at ISB has been no exception. It is a lifeline – providing common ground and opportunity for all.

The spirit of competition is universal. ISB athletes come from diverse backgrounds, bringing their coaching, practicing and playing experiences with them. Yet a jump shot in Brussels is the same as a jump shot in Tokyo. By integrating players of many flags into one uniform, language and culture barriers dissolve and unity and camaraderie emerge. I rely on my teammates even if I have a hard time pronouncing their last names.

Student-athletes find the balance. As an athlete, time management is essential. Through the support of my teachers and coaches, I am able to balance academic, athletic, and community pursuits and I take pride in participating in activities that extend my learning outside the gym.

Infinite diversity. The sports programme at ISB speaks an international language that is paramount to success on and off the court. Whether it is the professional guidance of coaches or the competition against other schools across Europe: a commitment to excellence and sportsmanship is fostered. In doing so, the athletic journey provides a spectrum of opportunity – both inclusive and challenging.”

Eric Hamblett, International School of Brussels

It’s all about fit!
Choosing an International School in the Benelux

You could say that we’re all involved in the people business because no matter what our job is, we work with people every day. And the way we work with them almost always determines how successful we are in our job.

International schools are no exception. With often hundreds of students from every corner of the world - each child bringing their own learning style, skills, interests, passions, personality, hope and dreams – it is hardly surprising that learning communities are notoriously complex organizations! And again, the way we work with the students and their families who join our school communities almost always determines how successful we are in achieving our educational mission.

Schools are a bit like people too. They all have ‘personalities’, generating a particular feeling or atmosphere, which goes way beyond a simple analysis of the curriculum offered, number and range of sports teams or success in getting kids into the best colleges. These factors are, of course, important, but there is often more to making the decision. Many families, after they join the International School of Brussels (ISB), for example, explain how their eventual choice of school was based simply on a sense that ISB and the experience it offered was the right ‘fit’ for their children and the family as a whole.

It could be argued that the Benelux stands apart from the rest of the world in terms of the quality of education offered by the various international schools in this region. In Brussels alone, there are plenty of good schools to choose from. In fact, the only problem families moving to Brussels often seem to have is that they are spoilt for choice!

So, in the end, how do you know you are making the right choice for your children? How do you know that the ‘personality’ of a school is right for you? My advice is simple: take the time to visit each school; meet the people who work there; talk to them about the hopes, fears and expectations you have for your children; and ask lots of questions about the school’s core values and philosophy of learning.

For some people, the decision is easy. It is literally, ‘love at first sight’. For others, it is a growing sense of trust in a particular school. In the end, however, the best schools are not out there giving you the ‘hard sell’ – even in times of global financial crisis. They are simply wanting to help you choose the best school for your child, even if it isn’t theirs!

Dr. David Willows
Director of External Relations
International School of Brussels (ISB)

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