The Importance of the IB Program

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The Importance of the IB Program

Martha Yanders, Obama Eagle Staff Reporter

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Students who go to IB schools may know that the IB program is an international program that was established in 1968 that created a challenging and in-depth curriculum that focuses on six main areas to create a well-rounded and global individual. Recently, I interviewed two very bright individuals at our school to get a better understanding of the IB curriculum.  There are many different ideas about what components define the International Baccalaureate program in the school and just what it means to the many students who participate in it. Outside of the rigor and the workload, students can look forward to flexibility in the curriculum which allows more time to ask why questions  from multiple viewpoints as well as preparedness to change the world.

I interviewed an IB US History teacher at Obama Academy named Mr. Naveh first. For this part of the interview I asked how the IB program affected the individual classroom. He had very insightful comments and stated witty quotes with zeal. He started off by stating, “I love how IB stresses depth over breath.” He elaborated on this point by speaking about his personal experience with IB in the classroom environment. In terms of history, he says IB understands that he can’t teach everything, but they don’t want him to cover everything from colonization to Reagan.

He is able to focus on about 5 topics and go into depth and learn different sides of each story. In other programs you can’t do that; there is not enough time. A notable quote is, “If you feel like covering history, you might as well cover it with dirt. It’s important to uncover and discover history.” IB allows students to do just that open discussions, why questions, participating, and reflecting. He concluded by saying IB students are active learners and as it turns out, it is much harder to memorize information than engaging in history class. Mr. Naveh does a great job of teaching the IB way. He said if he does his job well, students don’t just learn history; they learn so they have the skills to study any type of history. This goes along with his philosophy about how to teach; being confident as an educator to help students get what they need to get to the next step.

The last person that I interviewed was the principal of Obama Academy, Dr. Walters. He is very involved in the IB process and helping his students prepare for the net step in their lives. For this part of the interview, I focused on college preparedness. He started off by talking about college being a combination of networking and time management. A lot of visiting college students often talk about IB helping them with time management and managing a large workload.  IB is a college prep program and he strives to push and develop students. IB is a context for students on how to think and why for a broad range of knowledge so they leave with a depth of knowledge.

He said another important aspect was exposure so you are college ready and a global individual. You are able to take 4-7 years of one language so you are proficient in the language. There are even opportunities to engage in culturally diverse activities like festivals or traveling abroad with your language class. Most students in college need to know Theory of knowledge, how to write history papers, be active members of the community, and give back to others. In the IB curriculum, all of this is required to create global citizens. Dr. Walters also stressed well-rounded individuals. Students should develop in the arts, community and service, language, and above all learn how to think. This, he says, is a complete package for college. He stated, “IB forces you to focus on the quality at an international standard at a level of rigor.”

I then went on to ask how he thinks teachers should prepare IB students to be global citizens. He said teachers do a really good job, but there is always room to grow since the world is constantly changing. He referenced the new trends of technology being used in the work space. It is now the norm, so there always needs to be diligence. It is important for teachers to focus on the quality, but they also need to work hard to keep up with the world. Students as well are globally competitive. Students should challenge themselves, adapt, and keep reinventing themselves for the ever changing world. What teachers do here helps shape students as the go out into the world.

The interviews with Dr. Walters and Mr. Naveh allowed me to get some insight on what IB does to prepare students with a signature standard to function at all levels and have empathy for a shared humanity despite being a global program. The IB program started from world diplomats making a world standard of education and having individuals involved who are committed to the program and being globally competitive. Wherever students go or what majors they choose, IB goes a long way so students leave with a depth of knowledge and are able to pursue their dreams.

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