What Is An International Baccalaureate Education?

Mrs. Sinclair, Ms. Bisset, Ms. Berkley and I spent last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at an International Baccalaureate training. We each went to our various sessions, which included Primary Years training, leadership in early childhood programs, and developing and sustaining IB programmes. We returned to Soundview this week with inspiration, vision, and action plans.

In this week's post, I’d like to start with the questions: what is IB? And what are the most important elements of the IB mission?

An IB education is focused on individual students' needs. Students learn to ask questions, develop their learning styles, and take control of their own learning. Learning how to learn is more important than learning specific facts. Students develop the skills to construct their own meaning. They are engaged in global issues through a broad, interdisciplinary, relevant, and engaging academic program. The assessment standards are developmentally appropriate, rigorous, and set in collaboration with higher learning institutions.

An IB education develops citizens of the world. It is not based in one particular geographic location, culture, or tradition. The IB mission is to "create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect." The work of IB educators like us is to "develop challenging programmes of international education." We use the term “international-mindedness” to encompass all elements of an IB education.

What is an international education? We can think about it in terms of the differences between national education, international standards, and a truly international education.

A national education is a particular country's curriculum. In the US, this would currently be the Common Core - our national curriculum. To use international standards for education is literally to use another country’s national curriculum. For example, Soundview uses Singapore’s math curriculum. Another example is an American school in another country, which uses the US national curriculum.

Finally, an international curriculum focuses on global awareness and issues, our common humanity, building a better world, intercultural respect, exposure to cultures in and out of school, and a balanced, formal curriculum. The outcome is students who become international-minded citizens and leaders.