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Cambridge IGCSE Global Perspectives at Michael Ham Memorial College, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Established almost a century ago, Michael Ham Memorial College in Buenos Aires provides 'comprehensive, bilingual and global learning experiences' designed to encourage 'a culture of critical thinking, reflection and creativity'. It’s therefore not surprising that the College offers our skills-based Cambridge IGCSE Global Perspectives course – one of the first Cambridge schools in Latin America to do so.
'Global Perspectives fosters independent learning and improves students' understanding of other subjects due to its interdisciplinary approach,’ says Global Perspectives teacher Millie Díaz Mathé. 'The course also links content to current issues, and raises awareness of ethical and philosophical debates.'
Every year around 60 Year 11 students take Cambridge IGCSE Global Perspectives, and Millie admits that it can be challenging for them to adjust to the new way of thinking encouraged by the course. ‘In Global Perspectives, 'traditional' study doesn’t always lead to good grades,’ she explains. ‘The emphasis is more on the process than the finishing line, and students must also learn that sometimes there are no right or wrong answers, and that opinions should be supported by sound arguments. At first, students are unused to this approach but soon value it greatly, and see how it can be used in other fields of study. As a result, they become more questioning, better able to consider a range of perspectives, and more interested in current affairs.’
Teachers are equally impressed and engaged with the course, adds Millie: 'As soon as teachers grasped the concepts underpinning Global Perspectives they became very enthusiastic. We now work collaboratively to find common content within other syllabuses to enable students to explore subjects in more depth, and have also transferred some of the teaching approaches to other courses.
Within Social Studies, for example, we now use techniques such as self-evaluation forms and proactively group students together according to their previous performance. Previously students would group themselves, but this was not always successful, and we want to educate our students on healthy group work habits. We also find that if students are exposed to these strategies before starting Global Perspectives they find the course much easier. This is especially true for the Group Project coursework component of Global Perspectives, which encourages students to develop their own cross-curriculum links, and which has resulted in projects such as an inter-religious event (pictured above) and an international sports day.'
Cross-cultural collaboration is also encouraged in the Global Perspectives syllabus, and while this can be achieved by connecting with other schools, Millie has taken an alternative approach. 'It wasn’t so easy to find schools taking the Global Perspectives exam in November (as we do), so instead I encourage students to build their own connections worldwide, especially through social media, to support the Group Project, and to encourage individual responsibility.'
Having successfully offered Global Perspectives for five years, Michael Ham College is now piloting Cambridge Primary and Secondary 1 Global Perspectives for students aged 5 to 14. 'We started in March 2017, and we are confident that the programme will prepare students for the Cambridge IGCSE Global Perspectives course, and that its methodology will enhance our students’ ability to build connections, and develop their understanding of the ‘whole’ picture when exploring an issue'.