By Jeff Bradley, NEASC Commission on International Education, Director for Accreditation and School Improvement
Among the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic is a new perspective – or rather a stark reminder of an old perspective – that people need contact with other people. “Man is by nature a social animal”, as Aristotle taught, more than two millennia ago. When connected with others we can see ourselves more clearly, and be challenged, critiqued, affirmed, and inspired. Those who once rejoiced at time away from school, away from others – and the peace that comes with solitude – also realize that distance from others has its limits.
So too, institutions do better when they connect directly with other institutions, when they realize they are an essential part of a larger whole.
In the case of NEASC where I serve as a Director, we have helped connect schools and universities since our first gathering near Boston in 1885 – just as the concept of universal, compulsory K-12 schooling was gaining momentum in the US. Today, our NEASC Commission on International Education which accredits 300+ schools in 83 countries takes seriously the importance of our own connections – across countries, continents, culture, and languages.
Like people, organizations connect best with those who help enlarge its mission and impact, who share enough values in common that trust is assumed, and who mutually agree to push each other to be the best version possible of an organization serving others. At NEASC, we trust that our connections with others – both people and institutions – bring out the best in them, helping them advance in their journeys toward improvement and transformation.
One clear example is our long relationship with AMISA where we have led webinars and presented at conferences. Other examples of our commitment to connections include:
Our NEASC Annual Conference and Showcase in December helped over 700 people in 46 countries connect over two days of live sessions inspired by our theme, “What If”.
We continue to conduct training for our peer visitors, to strengthen our base of 900+ volunteers now serving around the world.
NEASC and the IB have long shared common beliefs about learning. We have finally translated that connection into a more sensible, impactful, streamlined 5-year review process for qualifying schools: the Collaborative Learning Protocol, already the chosen accreditation and IB evaluation route for several schools worldwide.
We continue to serve more than 130 schools worldwide in partnership with CIS with whom we have long shared an accreditation protocol for schools seeking dual accreditation.
Last fall we joined the Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color (AIELOC) with whom we share a commitment to the work of international educators and leaders of color with a focus on advocacy, learning, and research. We also helped lead one of their Community Visioning sessions.
In January we joined the Council of British International Schools, with whom we share a common connection in supporting excellence in international schools – in this case, British-oriented schools abroad.
We trace NEASC’s connection to schools outside the US to the State Department’s invitation in the 1970s to serve the cause of high-quality education for American students – by accrediting American-oriented schools, first in Europe and now in Asia, Africa, and South America – wherever American interests reside.
Where there are connections, there is trust. The recent past has posed new challenges and reminded us of ancient wisdom. Organizations – like people – do best when in the trusted embrace of others.