In the U.S., we say we’re growing global citizens, but are we really? Being a global citizen means that we’re willing to have uncomfortable conversations, we are willing to see others’ points of view, and we’re cooperative across borders about global events.
It’s interesting to look at how other countries’ educational systems operate and believe that we can all learn so much from one another.
This week on the podcast, I’m talking with Brantley Turner, the founding American principal at Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School and new director of East Asian Education for the Dwight Schools Network. As someone who grew up in the U.S. education system and has in-depth knowledge of the Chinese system, Brantley has a unique perspective of global citizenship and preparing children in a variety of cultures.
Brantley shares why local learning is so valuable, what people need to know about global education systems, why we need to truly let our kids fail (instead of just telling them they can), and why a cooperative model is important in China and beyond.
About Brantley Turner:
For the past 10 years, Brantley Turner served as the Founding American Principal and a Governing Board Member at Shanghai Qibao Dwight High School where she passionately led all aspects of the school’s international administration. August 2022 she will take on a new role as Director of East Asian Education for the Dwight Schools Network.
While operating Qibao Dwight, Brantley took the school from a start up to an institution that is peer-recognized as showcasing excellence in teaching and learning, management and curriculum innovation. This success story of China’s only cooperatively-run, independent Sino-U.S. high school is thanks to her abilities as an innovator and solution-oriented creative thinker.
Brantley brings every ounce of her knowledge of multiple different industries to the challenges of international education. These broad reference points and an extremely open-minded approach to her close collaboration with the Principal, Wang Fang, set her apart in the industry. She has impeccable written and spoken Mandarin.
Her goal is to share the incredible successes of the Qibao Dwight faculty and students and the approaches that best supported them, so that others may enjoy also being swept up by the vital work of educating globally-minded students. Connect with Brantley on LinkedIn.
Jump in the Conversation:
[2:05] – Comparing and contrasting US and China education
[3:30] – Are we up for continued dialogue
[5:02] – Not all children can attend certain schools in China
[6:48] – Why cooperative model is important in China and beyond
[9:20] – Addressing the hate and negative stereotypes in media of the Chinese
[10:10] – We can’t solve global crises without cooperation
[11:27] – Changes in life and relationships from living abroad
[13:08] – Living abroad is an unshackling
[15:31] – Key takeaways for global citizenship
[19:00] – How kids in China respond to “What are you interested in?”
[19:55] – Don’t negate what’s important to the culture
[21:25] – 3 things that can better prepare our youth to be global citizens
[26:12] – Internationalization of education isn’t the westernization of education
[28:12] – Turbo Time
[30:10] – What people need to know about creating global systems
[31:40] – What Brantley brings to global education
[33:55] – How others can be activists
[36:18] – Brantley’s Magic Wand
[38:05] – Maureen’s Takeaways
Links & Resources
- Connect with Brantley on LinkedIn
- Tim Ferris TED Talk: Why you should define your fears instead of your goals
- Email Maureen
- Maureen’s TEDx: Changing My Mind to Change Our Schools
- The Education Evolution
- Facebook: Follow Education Evolution
- Twitter: Follow Education Evolution
- LinkedIn: Follow Education Evolution
- EdActive Collective
- Maureen’s book: Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids
- Micro-school feature on Good Morning America
- The Micro-School Coalition
- Facebook: The Micro-School Coalition
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:07
Hi, rally it is so good to have you on education evolution. Thank you for having me. listeners. Disrupting education is a challenge in the US. So imagine creating a collaborative learning model in a country with very different norms. today I’m chatting with Brantley Turner. Brantley is the Dwight school’s director of East Asian education, and previously served as the founding American principal and a governing board member at Shanghai chi Bao, bright High School, China’s first independently run Chinese us cooperative High School. Wow, rally. This is wonderful. I’m wondering, right? Like this is a very critical time for global collaboration and your work is transformative. Let’s go ahead and unpack schools and then expand to global citizenship. Could you please set the stage by painting a picture comparing and contrasting us and Chinese high school education?
Brantley Turner 2:09
I will certainly try. So in brief, I feel less qualified to talk about US education, except from the vantage point of having gone through it myself. Right. So I’m an American, I was raised in the US not in a household that was internationally oriented. Although ultimately my parents did move to Asia. And that’s what got me going in that direction. But I was done with my education through high school here in the US before any of that happened. And then sort of the second half of my life so far, actually a longer half has been living in Asia and ultimately then working in education. So I guess I feel unqualified in a way from a pedagogical and a mastery perspective, but certainly from a personal experience perspective, and then running shoe about Dwight, I’ve always focused more on the similarities. And I think that fundamentally, in, in excellent schools with students who care about learning, you have amazing learning going on both in China and in the United States. And that’s exciting. I try to stay positive and uplifted because we do face so many challenges. It can be easy to feel down about about things. But I would say that the one of my concern areas, and something that we can focus on a little bit with global citizens is are we up for continued dialogue? Is there space for uncomfortable conversations? Is there openness, true openness to ideas that don’t always sit comfortably, and I’m finding in both China and the United States, an increased closed way of looking at at the topic and the concept of open dialogue. And my concern for both systems of education is any movement towards disconnection or decoupling or unwillingness to talk about seeing things from different points of view? So in brief, I’m excited about places that are passionate about learning, like many of our best institutions in both the United States and China are, I’m worried about space for disruptive and uncomfortable conversations that I think is imperative for both school systems to push themselves forward.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:41
Absolutely. I feel the same way that there’s this polarization and this entrenched, kind of like push back instantly instead of Oh, tell me more mentality. So you have been the founding principal at the first cooperative High School What does that mean?
Brantley Turner 5:02
So, China is a regulated education space. And by that it means not all children can attend schools that teach international curriculum as a starting point. highly regulated in grades one through nine, you are effectively in Shanghai not supposed to study international curriculum. If you don’t also study Chinese national curriculum in the grades one through nine in high school, it opens up a bit. So Shanghai Chivo, joint High School is just grades 10 through 12. Students test in through the National John Cole, which is the entrance examination to high school so they participate in that in that traditional system coming through. And then once they get to our school, they do both the International Baccalaureate curriculum and for Chinese national subjects in the humanities. Our designation is a sino us independent, cooperatively run high school. It’s a big mouthful. We are the only approved Ministry of Education school in the country to offer what we offer. And we received our funding from the government to start the school. So that’s what makes it also unique. It was supported by the Ministry of Education to to open. There’s a lot more to it. But I think the key points are we function within the national system. But we have this unique international designation.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 6:43
Boy, both and I love that. So why do you think this corporative model is important in China and beyond?
Brantley Turner 6:55
So chi Bao is a key School High School in Shanghai, and that means that it’s a public school that students test in, and it’s very rigorous, and they they educate students to take the national entrance exam to college, for the students that that national exam works for. It’s called the God call the high exam. For the students it works for, it’s fine, but we both know that not there’s no one size fits. All right. So what’s important for China about a school like ours is providing alternative pathways, and certainly at a total of 600 students 200 per grade, it isn’t all access, right? Not all students have the academic capability to get in, or the ability to afford going abroad for university which 100% of our students do. But it is an alternative pathway. And China I think, recognizes that there is not a one size fits all model for educating future citizens in the country. This provides an alternative for the rest of the world. What is important is recognizing and understanding non Americans, non UK citizens still seek opportunities for higher education in the United States, in the UK, in Canada, in other countries. So higher education is still a valuable export from many Western countries, including the United States and the UK and others, global citizens still seek the opportunity to study in countries outside of their home countries. For my students, 75% plus would be coming to the United States, it is incredibly important that we remain welcoming to these students, and that we continue to provide open and competitive and brilliant higher education access for citizens of the world. It’s it’s one of the most powerful things about the US. I completely agree.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 9:05
I mean, we are that melting pot. And we need to remember that when we all of a sudden want to become homogenous and No, we’ve never been that way. Let’s shift just a little bit based on what you’re saying. Because it’s been so painful to see the hate in the US that has been directed at Chinese and Asians during the pandemic. Talk to us about reframing these negative stereotypes that are so rampant in social media.
Brantley Turner 9:38
It’s astonishing to me honestly, I watching the pandemic rollout. We’ve learned so much about people and their care or lack thereof for others, and country after country reacting with almost Glee over the suffering of others. Other countries, both China reacting to the US struggles with a pandemic and the US reacting to China’s struggles. And I don’t understand it at all, we won’t be able to solve global crises like a pandemic, like climate change, like poverty, feeding the world without cooperation. And we have chosen time and time again through the last three years to not cooperate, to not come to the table on solving problems together. And this this kernel of hate that has been sort of fueled through all this is a really clear example of that misdirection and that misguided thinking.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 10:42
Yes, I completely agree. And I know my background, I mean, being a single mom and traveling with my girls in Thailand, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, not having the alphabet, let alone the language, just how kind and gracious that just humanity is so international, it just blows me away that people can write off whole cultures. But I know that’s because I’ve lived in places where people have been so kind and gracious and helpful. And I’ve been the outsider. So I think that that’s given me a different perspective. How are you living for so long in China? What kinds of changes do you think that’s made in you, compared to maybe a cousin or somebody else that has stayed in the US,
Brantley Turner 11:33
I’ve always tried to be careful about how much privilege I’ve had, when it comes to the travel that I’ve done and the opportunities that I’ve had, and like you have raised children abroad. And I recognize that and I and I really like to believe that through library programs and reading and books, we can create those experiences for individuals that have not had the same opportunities that I have, have had, and many of my family members, my dad is from Alabama, and my mom’s from Tennessee. And many of my family members have not had the same access that I’ve had to travel. So I think that through excellent educational programs, we can reach places of intercultural understanding of openness of empathy of care for others, without ever getting on an airplane. I think, unfortunately, a lot of that programming is compromised. And I do worry greatly about how access to reading and this sort of intercultural sharing is compromised in the United States currently in many school districts. For my own perspective, I think that that travel and that working abroad, deeply embedding I speak Read and Write Mandarin, I put a lot of time into language, language was my my access into the country. And I can only tell you, I just know what I don’t know, which is the the sort of sense that I was learning about myself the whole way, and maybe you would appreciate this. I feel like when I started working abroad, I became unshackled and I’m shackled by the shame of of my own culture, or my own role within the culture. What did it mean to be a woman in the workplace? What did it mean to navigate power and hierarchy and something about being an my case, China, but potentially, this could have happened anywhere. So outside of my comfort zones, so outside of any norms that I understood, freed me, I think I’ve accomplished a lot more without that burden. And this is something that’s maybe very abstract for listeners, but it was very powerful. And it’s something that I’ve tried to talk a lot to my students about as they leave China and they come abroad. What is that journey of self discovery gonna look like? And how do they listen to their own changes that are happening and how do they take advantage of them?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 14:09
I love that and I think you’re right, I haven’t reflected on it as much as I would like, but living overseas definitely has been this source of immense personal growth and like you I became really aware that I didn’t know what I didn’t know I mean, I didn’t know in Kuwait that to get Halloween costume fabric you go to a fabric souk that it’s a whole every and get thread you go to a different soup that everything is separate. I didn’t know that right hand turns at a stoplight were illegal in Peru until I got pulled over. There’s so many things that I just assumed based on my upbringing until something so many times something kind of like wait, wait, Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore, that it got to this place where I welcomed I was free because I didn’t know what norms would ever be anywhere, except for the International piece that I didn’t need Spanish for. And I’m sure you haven’t need Chinese for. It’s just how we treat each other as humans. Maybe you kiss one cheek to cheek, three cheek, you know, in different cultures. But some of these values, to me have been everywhere. And I’m sure when you work on global citizenship with your students, there are some key takeaways you want for them, and you want them to be lighthouses and beacons of light to just spread this what, what would be some attributes that you would hope all of our use would have to be these global citizens that maybe don’t know what they don’t know. But their hearts are in the right place?
Brantley Turner 15:52
I think there’s so much discussion around failure these days, both in the parenting world, the book, the world of parenting books, the world of of educators, you know, how do we help young people embrace failure and not be afraid. And I think that’s important and valuable and interesting. And think about risk taking, and what that looks like for young people. But I also think a lot in life is just about showing up and saying yes to things. You can talk to someone about being afraid of failure, or you can coach them to say yes, and say, why not and say, Let’s try. And that has been a much more powerful tool for me than saying, Don’t be afraid of failing. Because maybe you aren’t going to be afraid. And it’s okay to be afraid. And all of us feel vulnerable. And all of us feel exposed and at risk regularly. But if we just make those micro choices, okay, you know what I’m gonna, I don’t think I like that food, but but I’m gonna give it a try. And I don’t think that I understand how this public transportation works in Toronto, but I’m gonna figure it out. And it’s almost through many experiences. And then what I would say well about that is think about big terminology. Like, what’s your passion? What 15 year old feels really capable of answering that question in a way? That doesn’t feel scary? Oh, no, this adult is asking me what’s my passion, how annoying. But if you help give them exposure and experiences, you know, micro experiences, they scaffold to that passion and become maybe more confident at understanding that they do have things that they’re interested in might develop into a passion. So again, for me, it’s it’s, it’s not about great leaps. It’s about many leaps, and many experiences that that add up to a great life of different experiences.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 18:10
I like that. And we do and my microscope, we do passion projects. And it is it’s like what are you even interested? What might you want to explore? What would be a way just to try this out? And get more information? Because you’re right, we do we throw kind of like, what do you want to do when you grow up? It’s like, well, yeah, when they have so much they haven’t been exposed to and there’s so much to explore. I think, when we frame it in terms of many choices, and many steps, it’s safer. And right. It’s not about Don’t be afraid. It’s like, hey, why not try something little and, and see where it takes you and what might become of that. So what you’re suggesting is much healthier, much more realistic, and lowers the threat to make it more viable for you. I love it.
Brantley Turner 19:00
I think one other thing that I’ve encountered a lot in China is the idea of when you ask a young person, what they’re interested in, they tell you what they’re good at. They’re wanting you’re like, I like chemistry, talk to me, why do you like chemistry? Well, I’m good at it. I like math. Why do you like math? I’m good at it. I mean, the number of times that I’ve said, Okay, I totally respect that. But that doesn’t tell me what you’re interested in. That tells me where you feel recognized. And you think that that’s what I want to hear. I’m actually interested in you and what you are interested in. And that conversation has for me been another great just entry point to talking to young people about things that are not all about recognition and grades and because I think you’ll appreciate this. You should never negate what’s important to the culture in China grades matter. So a starting point For a conversation with parents and student is never thought grades aren’t important. You know, that doesn’t matter, because that doesn’t get you anywhere. Yep. And if you want to excellent, and for you getting that great score is a sign of excellence. Okay, I’ll accept that. But I want to know more, I want to understand more. And I want to see you as more than just that score or your salary when you start your first job. And that’s been a learning process for me as well how to talk to families about, okay, I’ll accept the grades. But what else?
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 20:37
Mm hmm. I think you’re right. When we say oh, yeah, grades don’t matter. GPA don’t matter. We lose people, where would we go? Yes. And that we can keep things open. Thinking about your youth, and you’re preparing them to go off, like I said, to international universities, and they are ambassadors of China, they’re also global citizens having already had at least two, you know, had Chinese and Mandarin and English and American IB international curriculums, there’s so much broader than most high school students, I’d love to loop back around to our youth as global citizens. So what do you think are maybe three steps parents and educators could take to better prepare our youth to be globally aware and to be world citizens.
Brantley Turner 21:36
So it’s very hard to walk in the shoes of others. But being open to ideas that make you uncomfortable as a starting point to understanding other people, you’ve got to break down the barriers, you cannot negate and shut off how somebody else feels or what they think before you’ve had a chance to really understand. And I think it’s a common reality now that we don’t make space for that dialogue. And I really try to encourage my students to say, Listen, you’re going to be shocked by a lot of what you hear what you see, you need rather than take things personally, or rather than just dry from an emotional place, you need to try to unpack and understand why. And that’s very hard to do, particularly when you’re young, because it’s difficult to be faced with ideas that offend you. So I think, as educators and parents, we can support young people by helping them recognize the importance of of those, those paradoxical ideas that you can hold two conflicting ideas in your mind, turn them over and start to have your own compass. I think that character and value education is such an incredibly fundamental starting point for my students, because many of them are only focused on coming abroad about what they can achieve from a, again, a grade and honors a career perspective, a salary perspective, and they missed that opportunity to really think about the world from a values perspective, what are our shared values? What do we agree on? Not what are the ways we’re different? Not? What are the ways we don’t agree, but where are we? Where do we find common ground. And third, is recognizing that it’s okay to feel badly in different experiences. So I can often find with my students that they they over anticipate, or they have higher expectations or stereotypical expectations for what it’s going to be like to go abroad. And they can be very disaffected and saddened by what meets them in reality. And so managing expectations is another I think, very important factor around making that decision to go on a journey to live somewhere else or to study somewhere else, because often you can build it up in your mind that it’s going to be something that is not. And so just the act of the journey, it’s not about where you wind up, right, and we teach this always in schools, when we when we do our jobs is that it’s about the journey, it’s the process. It’s not just the end result, and if that process is ugly, and uncomfortable and hard that you’re learning and you’re growing, and you’re gonna be okay. But it’s not always fun. The the it’s easier not to cooperate and intercultural understanding is hard work.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 24:33
Absolutely. And you know, I agree, I completely managing expectations. It really helped me because we were in my daughters and I would to your hops. We were in six different countries. And early days somebody had talked to me about the honeymoon phase, and getting that and then what comes after the honeymoon, it was like is any new countries like oh my gosh, it’s so warm and oh, we have access to this and the people are that. And then after a while it was like, I don’t know the language. I don’t understand this. I am tired of the prayer call going off when I’m sleeping. I, you know, it goes from like the novelty and everything being an adventure to i Miss, I miss my parents, I miss our family pet, I miss what I was used to. So I think we do need to manage expectations and it’s easy to glamorize. I will be in this new place, and it will be amazing. It’s like, yeah, there’s some honeymoon. And there’s definitely some day in day out and missing some things that we grew up with, or we’re used to. So managing expectations, I think is important, even just for kids going off to college or post secondary internships or whatever, because we as a culture do tend to glamorize and. And then kids are pretty upset. I think also social media and glamorizes so they don’t get the sense of Oh, other people are suffering, because all they see is the beautifully poised, posed pictures. And not that oh, this stinks moments.
Brantley Turner 26:14
I think that one of the values that I’ve tried to hold close in Asia is feeling like the internationalization of education is not the westernization of education. Right? We, both you and I, as Western educators going abroad to educate home country, nationals and international students need to be just as open to what we can learn from how things are done locally, as we are bringing in our own model and experience. And as I said, you know, my experience is so limited in the United States that I can’t in any way profess to be sort of an ambassador for the best practices of the West. I’ve had to work on this kind of amalgamation of what what does, what did our school in Shanghai need? And what do I bring? And, and what does that look like? And so I think that it’s always about threading the needle when you’re international, it’s about allowing space for what’s important locally, bringing in different ideas and innovation. And those are not necessarily Western, right, it’s more of a spirit, it’s more of a mindset. And also kind of the decolonization of the curriculum, which is something that’s very important here in the US, is equally important. We have to tread lightly when we move around other other regions of the world, bringing with US International Baccalaureate, a level Cambridge curriculum, AP curriculum and be very sensitive to the fact that there needs to be space for local, local learning to, I don’t think I think home country language is imperative mother tongue language is imperative. It’s wonderful if you can also learn to speak English at a native level to facilitate that movement abroad right to becoming global citizens, because language is access. But we shouldn’t take away language from from home country nationals. It’s it’s their culture.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:05
Agreed. Yes. Are they I want to shift and hit on some terminal 10 questions just so we can get to know a little bit about you. You too. Are you ready?
Brantley Turner 28:14
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:15
awesome. What’s the last book you read?
Brantley Turner 28:18
Oh, I have been reading to my kids. I feel honestly like that’s the main thing. So my son who’s eight and I are reading a book of Vietnamese stories and fables. And it’s fun. We took a trip to Vietnam four years ago and bought the book and we’re getting around to it now. So we’re learning about some of the traditional Vietnamese fables. I love fables and legends, and from all different countries and myths. So right now we’re on to that.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:46
Awesome. How about two inspirational folks you’d love to meet?
Brantley Turner 28:51
I would really love to meet Axial Age, thinkers from both China and the West. And all of these are men. And I’m very aware of that. But I am, I would be fascinated to have Aristotle, Plato, and Confucius and Lao Tzu at a at a table because I think the great architects of a lot of our Western thinking and also Eastern thinking came at a similar time, but they would not have had the opportunity to meet and interact with each other. And I think that that the Great thinking of the east and west and an opportunity to have that conversation would be really amazing.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:27
Oh, my gosh, aha. How about a TED Talk that inspires you?
Brantley Turner 29:34
I like so many TED Talks. So this is a difficult question. Recently, I have been listening to Tim Ferriss TED talks, particularly his TED Talks that deal with the feeling of failure and risk and how to manage that. So I would just say Tim Ferriss, Ted Talks, some sometimes dark, but I’ve been looking them for inspiration, as I’m Move out of my job in Shanghai and into a new role and making sure that I embrace all the scariness of that.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:06
Yes, good for you. What’s the biggest thing you wish folks knew about creating global citizens?
Brantley Turner 30:15
Tolerance, openness. And, again, the discomfort that it’s painful. When you experience really embedding yourself in other cultures, and how vitally important it is to encourage young people to continue to do that.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:34
Yes. How about a pet peeve of yours?
Brantley Turner 30:39
I’m fast. I like speed. China was amazing for that China speed. It’s a thing you can read about it. And I just want to plow forward with 100 ideas and never stop, get 80%. Right, forget about 20% and keep moving. And anything that I feel holds me back is very difficult for me to deal with. So not just a pet peeve, but a sort of very hard for me to function in settings that I feel constrained by.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:11
I hear you, Latin America, and Spanish speaking countries are my jam. And Manyana is a biggie, and that’s so hard for me to want to go quickly. And like, yeah, maybe it’ll have today? Maybe not. Yeah, we’re gonna meet at one o’clock, which means two or three.
Brantley Turner 31:29
And yeah, just, I hear you on that. One.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:33
That’s definitely been a stretch for me. What’s one passion you bring to globalized and innovative education?
Brantley Turner 31:41
I really like learning languages. And I’ve talked about language as part of the the piece, I think that one might worry about AI and whether language learning will be obsolete when translation software really meets, you know, the standard of simultaneous translation. But the power of cultural understanding through linguistics is so important. And I worry about programs being cut for students in second language learning. And I would say a passion for me is just if I know I’m going to a place, I’m going to do my best to try to at least learn a few words and use them and not feel shy about it.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:21
I agree. We’re spending a lot of time with some Nicaraguan friends right now. And my husband can do amazing things with Google Translate, but I see it, stopping and changing the conversation. And I would hate for us also to say good enough, when it’s surface communication, and it misses the nuances. It misses the flow, and it misses a lot of the connection. So I agree. I hope AI helps us access more cultural communication, but I hope it doesn’t replace language learning. How about your favorite thing or fun fact about China?
Brantley Turner 33:01
cliche, is the food. That’s the very cliche answer, but But it’s true. I love Chinese food in all forms. There’s so many cuisines it is not one universal cuisine. And you definitely have a difficult time eating authentic Chinese food outside of China. So I’m going to deeply deeply miss the food.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:28
Yes, I think everybody says that, too. When they leave their culture. What do you miss? We missed anything that had to do with peanut butter overseas. It just wasn’t a big deal, which blew us away. Yeah, our own food and native food is so amazing. You’re doing transformational work, as you really created a cooperative, public winwin international cooperative High School. How can others be activists where they are to transfer form learning opportunities for our students?
Brantley Turner 34:04
The ability to start Chivo Dwight came from my counterpart Her name is Wong Fong her deep understanding of education policy in Shanghai really at the at the heavy research level and understanding policy but looking for opportunities for space within policy, because the reality is, in no school system, can you function outside of policy. So looking for what the space not fighting against it unnecessarily and saying nothing can be done, but trying to find if you yourself and I would say myself at the time did not have a strong understanding of policy that she did. But once she found the gaps, we’ve moved in and took advantage of those gaps and those opportunities and so I think if you want to create something that feels like your system allows for no space. If you can deep dive on policy and look for what those little kernels of opportunity are you can still Create, Create create new pathways for your students.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:05
I love that. How about something that most people don’t know about you?
Brantley Turner 35:11
That I love food, but I’m hopeless. In my household. I think that people have this image of me as very capable organized Mom, I’m a school principal. So I should be organized. I’m a complete mess when it comes to weight have my kids had breakfast? Oh, wait a second. What there was a permission slip to sign. When was the last time someone opened my son’s backpack? I am. So hands off. My kids are so free range, I am hopeless at keeping up anything related to school administration. I’m sure I’m a nightmare. But people expect me to be very uptight and very on top of those kinds of things, I am not
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:58
good for you for being real. I’d like to close interviews with the magic wand moment. And as we’ve talked about, right now, sadly, our culture’s are focused often on differences. And it’s more of a divisive mindset. If you had a magic wand, what would you wish for our youth to help them develop big hearts and intercultural competence?
Brantley Turner 36:27
I think you speak to this really well in some of your other work that I’ve listened to. And I and I think it’s so fundamental and important, and it’s just care, you got to care. You talked about starting your school and the principle of love and how much that mattered for the young people in the school. I mean, you’ve got to care deeply to survive as an educator with so many challenges, to be a parent that can deal with the challenges you face every day as a parent, to lead teachers, right. I’m in the leading teachers, you must care deeply and authentically and real, and I live for it. I live for the success of my teachers and my students and my own children and my family. And I think without it, it’s just you’re not starting in the right place. You cannot be just in it for yourself or just in it to gain credentials and accolades. I don’t think you make it an education if you don’t care, deeply.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 37:27
Agreed. Bradley, thank you, thank you for the hard work you’re doing building bridges and creating opportunities for us to really be globally minded and to use their hearts and not just as you said, Be achievement oriented. You’re doing important work. And it’s been a pleasure having you as a guest today.
Brantley Turner 37:53
Thank you, Maureen. It’s been so lovely.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 38:04
It is always a treat to get to look at learning and living from the International lens. Some of my happiest memories are of studying and working overseas. Brantley has fully embraced the richness of being open to another cultures perspectives. I appreciate her comment that self awareness can be the greatest gift of the overseas experience. We can be burdened by our norms and not even know it. When we bump up against differences and don’t immediately move to protect or defend ourselves. We can explore our perspective and the other side. Such a great opportunity for growth and synergy. I appreciate that in the US. Our families have the right to choose what type of schooling their children will receive. Regulated education can provide a common and equitable Foundation, which I’m sure it does in China, but it won’t provide the same richness and freedom of thought that varied educational models can offer. As Brantley said, it’s important to have students with glee, not just cooperation, and finding schools for each kid can thrive adds to that possibility of joyful learners. The idea of flipping fear of failure to one of openness to risk taking is important as his Brantley suggestion to provide students with many experiences to explore passions and interests, ones that scaffold into greater independence in a safe manner that builds confidence. I was stretched by her comment that asking about interests might limit students to what they feel successful at or recognized for it graded organizing, but boy, would I not want to have to focus on a life of organizing just because I’m capable of it.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 40:09
I agree that intercultural thinking is tough, allowing space for ideas of local importance. And as she said, decolonization of us curriculum and Western thinking is vital. In the US right now, we’re unpacking privilege and access, as well as might makes right history. It’s work that is long overdue. To close. Let me recap some of Bradley’s key recommendations. One, we can be open to uncomfortable ideas, and understanding others without making it personal, including living with paradox. Life is seldom black and white. to We have to make character and value education foundational at home and school. Where is the common ground? I know I have a lot in common with parents of every faith, and that I want my daughters to thrive and be contributing members of the community. values can be much more comprehensive than specific religious doctrines. Three, we need to manage our expectations. It’s okay to feel sad about conditions locally and globally. Ugly and hard can be valuable parts of our journey and help us want to make things better and more equitable. For we can be activist by gaining a deep understanding of policy, and then looking for opportunities and spaces that impact change, versus fighting against things. Let’s find those gaps. And five, let the principle of love Bentley’s magic wand propel us to take action where we care deeply Brantley, and she bowed white international schools are moving and shaking. I look forward to staying in touch with Brantley as she continues on her international school leadership journey. And listeners. Thank you for being a part of the education evolution.
Maureen O’Shaughnessy 42:31
I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I’ve spent years working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs. And it always struck me how much schools were able to get done with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your own school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit education evolution.org backslash consult for a free 15 minute call. And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together. Thanks again for listening. To support the education evolution. Subscribe so it lands in your podcast app and gets out to more decision makers. Then rate and review it. For more information in shownotes go to educationevolution.org. education evolution listeners. You are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen heard, valued and thriving. We are in this together and we need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.
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