International Baccalaureate

Exercise 3

Educational trends are constantly changing with a major emphasis on how children are taught.  In the 1960’s the traditional way of teaching involved things such as memorisation, same content for all, teacher centred, academic intelligence, closed classrooms and machine-scored tests. Now the IB focuses a lot on being child-centred, student choice, range of skills testing, education of the whole child and open plan classrooms.  There are obvious similarities in what the CfE and IB are aiming for.

For example, being ‘child-centred’ aligns with CfE’s approach of GIRFEC which ensures children and their families are put at the heart of all decisions made ensuring that the appropriate support is available if needed.  Student choice in schools is emphasised in the CfE as it is a principle within the curriculum meaning that learning planned for children responds to each of their individual needs.   Traditional trends seen a lot of tests which determined how “intelligent” someone was whereas now a range of skills are tested, and intelligence isn’t based on memory but rather on the whole child. Scottish education is seen to have more open-planned classrooms in schools to broaden their learning experiences with opportunities of shared leaning with peers in different classrooms.



Exercise 4

The two main similarities between the Primary Years Programme and Curriculum for Excellence is learning being child centred and interdisciplinary learning.  Having a child-centred learning approach within both curriculums means that children will have the initial interest to learn as they have the choice and involvement of what they are learning.  This allows children to be engaged in their learning which in turn makes a better learning environment and experience for all.  The IB has six subject areas: Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Arts and Personal, Social and Physical Education which is similar to the CfE which has expressive arts, health and wellbeing, languages, mathematics, RE, sciences, social studies and technologies.  Interdisciplinary learning means that learning is explored across all these areas so that children can begin to make connections between the real world making their learning relevant and meaningful.  For example, measurements can be explored through baking which covers more than one subject area.  Finally, another similarity is using reflection as a tool for leaning.  Both the IB and CfE have their children look back on their learning to see if any improvements can be made and what went well in their learning that they might use again.

International Baccalaureate

Exercise 2

The IB’sten core values are; inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open minded, caring, risk takers, balanced and reflective which can be compared and contrasted to the Curriculum for Excellence’s four capacities of; Successful learners, Confident Individuals, Responsible Citizens and Effective Contributors.

Although the IB may be more specific in terms of what they are looking for from their learner’s, a lot of their values correspond with our four capacities intertwining the two curriculums as they have the same end goal.

For example, as a Successful Learner, the CfE aims for children to be enthusiastic and motivated to learn, have determination to succeed and being open-minded.  They should be able communicate well, use literacy and numeracy skills, technology, learn independently and as a part of a team etc.  Already we can see that within being a Successful Learner, the IB’s core values of open-minded, inquirers, communicators cross paths as they encourage their learners to do the same.  Within CfE, being a confident individual means having self-respect, having ambition, being aware of their mental, physical and emotional well-being e.g. by having a healthy lifestyle, assessing risks, having their own beliefs etc. Again, similar to that of the IB’s values of knowledgeable, thinkers, risk-taking and balanced.  Being a responsible citizen means that our learners should have respect for others, be open-minded to and understand different cultures, being fair and being considerate to the world around them.  Similar to being ‘caring’, ‘principled’ and ‘knowledgeable’ within the IB. An effective contributor is seen to have resilience, working in partnership, problem-solving and using initiative which coincides with a few IB values e.g. being ‘reflective’ and ‘thinkers’.

During my first-year placement, I was involved in a “Big Battery Hunt” with my class, where the children were able to write letters to local companies with the aim of them donating batteries to our school. Our class were responsible citizens as we collected batteries, counted them and gave them to recycling showing our commitment to participating responsibly in life.  Similar to the IB’s value of ‘caring’ where is states that they act to make a positive difference to the world around them.

Through exploring both the Curriculum for Excellence’s capacities and comparing the International Baccalaureate’s core values, I can appreciate the similarities that they both have in order to nurture and prepare their learners for the outside world.  The IB’s values interlock with CfE’s capacities well where I also found that a lot of the values discussed can fit into more than one capacity, meaning that both curriculums run similarly.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

Exercise 1

The international baccalaureate (IB) is a programme for students aged 3-19 to encourage academic and individual success for all.  It offers four educational programmes;

  • Primary Years Programme
  • Middle Years Programme
  • Diploma Programme
  • Career-related Programme

The IB highly focuses on developing their young people to ‘create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect’ (IB, 2016).  Therefore, meaning that the everyday barriers to different countries e.g. languages and cultures can be taught and understood better. The IB aims for its young people to become more globally engaged e.g. a better understanding of language much like the 1 & 2 approach in Scotland which allows every child the opportunity to learn a modern language.

The IB discusses its ten core values – inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principle, open minded, caring, risk takers, balanced and reflective – at the heart of its learning, ensuring respect for all people.  These core values align well with the Curriculum for Excellence four capacities – Successful learners, Confident Individuals, Responsible Citizens and Effective Contributors which I will discuss further in exercise 2.

The IB educational programme puts students at the heart of its learning, similar to the national approach in Scotland, Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) in which the wellbeing of children and young people are supported immensely ensuring that the correct support is available to children and their families from the correct services at the correct time.

During my previous practice, I worked in Early Years where the GIRFEC approach was prominent.  For example, we had Speech and Language Therapists who we often worked collaboratively with including parents and/or carers to ensure that children were able to develop and achieve appropriately. Other professionals we worked with e.g. educational psychologists, occupational therapists, local police etc meant that the children’s overall wellbeing – how safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included they were – was supported.

The IB programme is supported by assessment in which teachers can then plan, implement and evaluate in order for children to move on in their learning and reach their next steps. During my first-year placement, one of my goals was to focus on formative assessment in which I was able to research and therefore understand assessment on a deeper level.  For example, asking questions as an assessment tool. I learned that questions must be open-ended, stimulating and child centred which allows children to develop their own thinking and opinions.

Resource Allocation

It was our first Values workshop, and I was extremely excited to get started seeing as most of our imputs so far had been in a lecture theatre.  I love the lecture hall set up, and have already had my eyes opened greatly in regards to a variety of social issues e.g. race, discrimination and feminism.  Although on the other hand, I feel within the first few weeks of University or any new environment, it can be a tad intimidating speaking out in front of such a large group.  This is why I was extra hyped for being in a smaller, more intimate group.  Not only would I be able to familiarise myself with others I had not yet spoken to, I would also feel more confident in contributing my ideas to the class as a whole.

Oh how I was wrong.

We were split into 5 groups, each given an envelope containing stationary items and told to make a “Starter Pack” that would help first years in their journey to beginning University.  Easy right?  Well as I sat with my new acquainted group, a first glance revealed that all the envelopes looked the same.  As I stared unnaturally toward the lecturer, whilst the rest of my group were chatting, I realised that some of the envelopes seemed fuller than others.  Admittedly, I selfishly and silently hoped for one with more resources.  Much to my disappointment, we were given an envelope with next to nothing in it, a mere;

3 paper clips

An elastic band

A pencil

One post-it note

A little blue tack

Looking around the room I saw a rainbow of coloured paper, pens, highlighters, post-its and more that had been given to other groups.  My immediate thought was this was not fair – I considered going to one of the tables to ask for some resources but decided against it.  Essentially it was a first impression to not only my newly acquainted peers but also the lecturer, I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, rude or that I was cheating.

My mind raced to my senior years at school.  We had an inspirational careers talk where the main message portrayed was “If you want something, then go and get it.”  At the beginning of the talk, he visibly put a £20 note inside a book and placed it carefully.  During the talk, he waved the note a number of times whilst repeating, “If you want something, then go and get it.” We sat for what seemed hours before I realised the point of the talk.  I ran from my seat at the back of the hall to the stage in front of my fellow senior students and grabbed the note from his hand and reiterated his previous quote to him.  My school friends were in awe whilst the teachers laughed and the man making the speech said, “Finally!”

Growing up, I almost got everything I asked for so it was strange to be on the back foot of a challenge for a change.  Especially because of my very competitive nature as my neighbourhood was solely boys, I grew up playing football, bulldogs and male dominated activities resulting in me always wanting to win.  Even if it was just against my brother!

Naturally, we were a tad deflated by the lack of resources provided which caused some tension but we soon picked ourselves up and brain stormed some ideas.  Ideas mentioned were sparse and some were shut down immediately which caused a gloom, almost confused atmosphere among the group.  Eventually we agreed and begun to make a 3D student friendly map using the envelope provided – we used the paper clips unravelled as a path to each destination we felt were important to know e.g. the Dalhousie building, Belmont Flats, the Union and the library.

Throughout the task, we were ignored to a point where one of my team members was visibly annoyed whereas the rest muttered behind their breaths.  When the lecturer would look over what we thought to be a very creative idea considering the resources we got compared to others, she would make a distasteful face and commented negatively in regard to our idea implying that it was “not good enough”.  I felt this was harsh as we had really came together and contributed to the task immensely.  Perhaps more than the other groups, who were basically given the task on a plate whilst we inevitably had to work much harder.

Then came the presenting of the ideas, the first group had the lecturers full attention whilst she smiled and praised them, again with the second and third group.  Our turn was next, I actually felt embarrassed to explain our idea proudly because of the constant remarks that were given which is not like me at all.  I was brought much differently.  She ignored us whilst we spoke which frustrated the team even further.  She scored each team with ours being the lowest mark in the class… obviously.

We complained as a group where we eventually realised this was a test – just like the test back in my senior years at school.  How could I fall for a trick not once, but twice?

Although not so severe, my recent studies in psychology surrounding Milgram’s obedience to authority springs to mind.

I was more likely to react in a room full of peers and teachers that I was familiar in my senior years than I was in a new environment, suggesting in my opinion that I was experiencing a certain degree in obedience to authority during this task.  Likewise with the groups who had more resources than they knew what to do with, were they just following orders and completing the task or purposely acting in an unjust manner?

In conclusion, this workshop which seemed pointless to me at the time opened up a range of thoughts to me personally and to our groups.  Group discussion involved the groups with the most resources’ ignorance to those with less as they had no idea the struggle we were facing.  Which perhaps reflects today’s society well – we do not recognise those who need help, though praise and give our time those who possibly do not need it as much.

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Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

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