Being ‘Seen’: Countering the hidden curriculum of international schools & its impact on students (Notes)

This is the e-handout for the online workshop for Learning for Leaders. It includes a list of resources mentioned in the presentation, the slide deck and additional resources.

Image of an iceberg. The tip is above the water surface but most of it is submerged. The tip is labeled 'International mindedness' and the submerged portion is labeled 'hidden curriculum'
The Hidden Curriculum. Adapted from graphics designed by Mifune Takashi at Graphics copyright: Mifune Takashi.

Core topics

  • Hidden curriculum
  • Internalised racism & identity
  • Identifying cultural gaps & privilege
  • Role of educators


  • Finding common ground
  • Being ‘seen’
  • The simple things

Slide deck

The slide deck from the workshop is available in PDF format below.

Main text

Growing Up in Transit: The Politics of Belonging at an International SchoolDanau Tanu, 2018. 

Resources (in order of appearance)

‘Third Culture Kids: The Return Home’ by Tim Brantingham in Sandwich Parenting.

Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century. Tanya Crossman, 2016. See also

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, 3rd Edition. David Pollock, Dr. Ruth E. Van Reken and Michael Pollock, 2017.

Children At Promise: 9 principles to help kids thrive in an at risk world. By Dr. Tim Stuart, 2003.

I was inspired to use ‘active listening’ by:

Isabelle Min, professional coach, mediator and facilitator. Founder of Transition Catalyst Korea (TCK) Institute

Jessica Wei Huang, International Educator, Leader, & Coach, currently Vice Principal at UWCSEA.

Growing Up in Transit in the Oxford IB ToK Course Book

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Dr. Beverly Tatum

Oxford IB Diploma Programme: IB Theory of Knowledge Course Book. Marija Uzunova Dang and Arvin Singh Uzunov Dang. Published by the Oxford University Press (2020). (You can also listen to the co-authors discuss the importance of teaching Knowledge & Politics to high school students.)

TCKs of Asia & Third Culture Stories podcast.

TCKs of Asia w team profile pics

The Global Imaginary of International School Communities by Dr. Heather Meyer (2021). A detailed account of how the concept of internationalism is used to exclude local students. (Based on ethnographic research at an international school in Germany.)

Safe Passage: How mobility affects people & what international schools should do about it. Doug Ota, 2014.

Safe Passage Across Networks (SPAN) Symposium, March 5-6, 2021. For registration details click here.

Third Culture Kids & Parachute Kids – Building Their Resilience with experts Dr. Tim Stuart and Dr. Jang Eun Cho. Co-hosted by Dr. Danau Tanu & Sundae Bean.

The Strength of Weak Ties: for Campus Dynamics & Recruitment

For well being: Investing a little time to develop weak ties with students may help them feel more ‘seen’ and help the campus feel more inclusive

For recruitment: The concept of weak ties has been widely applied to diversifying job recruitment pools

Original study: The concept of weak ties was originally developed to study what type of networking is useful for job search

Alumni voice

Organisation to Decolonise International Schools

ISC Research: The international school student profile – The 2021 Report

ODIS logo
anti-racism in international education - AIELOC Community Visioning

Association of International Educators & Leaders of Color (AIELOC)

For more resources, see here or the resources tab in the website menu.

Breakout Sessions

Copyright: Mifune Takashi at

Work in pairs. 8 minutes total.

  • Step 1: Speaker shares story (3 min)
  • Step 2: The Listener retell the Speaker’s story using ‘Active Listening’ skills (1 min)
  • Step 3: Swap roles. Repeat steps 1 & 2

Be neutral. Do not judge.
Be attentive (nod, etc), patient and don’t fill the silences.

Reflect back to the speaker what they said. Use their words as much as possible. Do not interpret. Do not add your opinion.

BREAKOUT 1 – Self-reflection: Being ‘seen’

  • Q1. Describe a time when you felt seen by a teacher (or any adult). Why did you feel seen?
  • Q2. Describe a time when you did not feel seen by a teacher (or any adult). Why did you not feel seen?

BREAKOUT 2 – Self-reflection: Privilege

Q1. Describe a story that might indicate that you or your family doesn’t have privilege.

Q2. Describe an area in which you benefit from the existing social or historical context.