What is an International Baccalaureate (IB) education?
The IB Organisation have formed their educational programmes to ensure that all learning is student centred, challenging, with a strong emphasis on human values. These programmes focus on ten core values which are hoped to be seen in an IB student. Through these values, it is hoped that every child and young person undertaking an IB education will become internationally minded and understand the importance of taking care of the planet. This reflects the main aim of a Curriculum for Excellence education, which hopes to ensure children and young people gain skills fit for life in our world today, with a further purpose of becoming ‘responsible citizens’. (Scottish Government, undated). Another main goal of an IB education is to ensure that children and young people are exposed to a wide range of different beliefs, traditions and cultures so that students become more understanding and accepting of wider communities. I believe this is something that should be seen more commonly in educational programmes around the world, as understanding and appreciating others and their beliefs is incredibly important. During my first year placement I observed this in practice and it was incredible to see how interested children are in the way other people live their lives, and how accepting they are of it. I think that understanding differences is something that comes more naturally to children and young people because they have been less exposed to stereotypes, and so if taught more frequently throughout schooling it will be more likely to carry on to create a more understanding world.
Reflective Activity 1
How do the IB aims align with the main aims of CfE?
The aims of an IB education have many similarities to the main aims of CfE.
- IB hopes to help children gain a better understanding of the world around them and teach them what they can do to help take care of, and preserve, the planet.
- Mirroring this, CfE hopes to help young people to become responsible citizens and to help teach them transferrable skills which will help them throughout life, specifically for life in the 21st century.
- IB hopes to help children become more confident in order to achieve more difficult goals
- One of CfE’s main purposes is to help young people become confident individuals
- IB hopes to help children learn about the world around them by ‘doing’. and they partake in a lot of hands-on learning
- CfE aim to make all learning relevant to life in the 21st century, with an emphasis on group/peer learning
- The IB’s courses and curriculum frameworks are engaging, relevant, challenging and significant
- All of these features are seen throughout the CfE frameworks
Have you experienced any aspect of the IB aims when working with children or in your own education?
During my first year placement I saw a few examples of the IB aims in practice. IB hopes to ensure that learning is student centred and led. The school I attended for my placement had strong beliefs that the students should make a lot of decisions in their learning and wider school community. There was a pupil council, and the students actively made changes in the school, for example they organised a ‘cycle afternoon’ – with help from teachers – with hopes that it would encourage more members of the school to travel sustainably. It worked very well and it was amazing to see how supportive and helpful the older children were towards the younger students in the school.
The class teacher also ensured that her students were up to date on current events, which is a large aim of an IB education. Every Monday she would ask the class if they had heard any news stories over the last week. They would have a class discussion and make sure that the students had the correct information and had not misinterpreted anything.
Reflective Activity 2
What are the similarities and differences between the IB learner profile and CfE’s four capacities?
- Many of the IB attributes and CfE’s four capacities overlap in various areas, however they are collected in different ways – the IB attributes are broken down into 10 clear sections which makes them easier to pinpoint, whereas CfE’s four capacities are condensed and longer, making it more difficult to pinpoint specifics
- Both IB and CfE show a strong focus on:
- Independent learning
- Having and developing a clear worldview
- Problem solving
- Understanding of different cultures and beliefs
- CfE has a focus on Scotland throughout learning, and aims for young people to understand Scotland’s place in the world, whereas IB has no sole focus on any country as it is based internationally
- Both IB and CfE strongly aim to ensure that students are respectful to all people, no matter their beliefs or differences
Have you experienced or observed the development of any of the IB learner profile attributes in your own education or experience working with children?
Personally, when I was in primary school there was not a big emphasis on worldwide views and beliefs. We also did not speak about many current topics of what was happening in the world. Most of these things I learnt more about when I moved into secondary school. I noticed such a big difference when I undertook my first year placement. As I mentioned previously, the class teacher asked frequently about any news stories the students had heard about. The class teacher would also further research any stories in order to ensure they understood all of the facts and had not misunderstood anything.
Reflective Activity 3
Which of the ‘progressive trends’ in IB align with CfE?
A large part of a CfE education is inter-disciplinary learning, and is one of CfE’s four contexts for learning.
Students are encouraged to problem solve and fully understand their learning in depth. This is to ensure a full understanding, rather than memorisation.
Child Centred/Student Choice
CfE aims to ensure every child is safe and secure in school, making sure they have a voice to share ideas for their own learning.
Reflective Activity 4
Reflect upon the similarities and differences between PYP and CfE.
- Multiple languages are taught from the beginning of primary school
- Student’s choice is encouraged throughout learning
- Interdisciplinary learning is incredibly important for both PYP and CfE, students learn transferrable knowledge which helps them throughout their learning
- Both PYP and CfE are both challenging for students
- Reflection is a strong focus for both PYP and CfE, encouraging students to learn from their mistakes
It is interesting to see so many similarities between PYP and CfE. They are both rather progressive curriculums, which encourage children and young people to, not only actively engage with their learning, but to enjoy learning.
- Although subject areas are quite similar, Religious and Moral Education is not offered in PYP, possibly because it is taught throughout learning
- PYP seems as though students have more freedom than in CfE, where there is a higher level of dependence from students to teachers
- PYP has a finishing task for students who are about to compete their time in school called ‘The Exhibition’, where students apply their knowledge to a real-life issue/problem and try to solve it. This is not see in CfE, however project based work such as this is seen a lot throughout the years in a CfE education