Sarah Wilson, Writer
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program (DP) is a challenging program, or at least that is the consensus amongst the students at school. It teaches students about thinking critically and being able to apply their knowledge to the real world. DP students often complain about the stress level and workload but after graduating with their diploma, they realise how valuable their years as an IB student were.
Through Theory Of Knowledge (TOK) courses, hours spent getting CAS credit, and studying for hours on end for exams, DP teaches students several things:
Students Learn How To Formulate Good Critical Thinking Questions
The IB DP program requires students to take TOK, a course that requires critical thinking and a lot of inquiry. According to the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), It helps students with reflecting on their knowledge, and gives them the opportunity to make connections between different areas of knowledge and consider different perspectives. TOK challenges students’ knowledge by having them ask themselves questions such as “how do you know?”.
Alex Park, the DP CAS coordinator and TOK teacher said, “When students come into my year one TOK course, they often do not find the course comfortable because it pushes them beyond what they are thinking about”. She added, “the course pushes them to question everything so students do find it kind of unsettling in the beginning, but with all the activities and discussions that take place throughout the course, by the end of the year, they do know how to formulate good critical thinking questions and they also know how to argue with justifiable reasons and examples”.
Students Learn How To Argue with Justifiable Reasons and Examples
While the students learn how to formulate good critical thinking questions, they also constantly ask themselves, “How do you know?”. This makes students really re-evaluate their knowledge and teaches them to reflect on what they know and make connections. So by the end of the course, the students “also know how to argue with justifiable reasons and examples”. In this way, the DP program is very applicable to the real world and this helps students after leaving school. Students leave the DP program being better critical thinkers.
Students are Encouraged to Apply their Knowledge Outside of the Classrooms
Along with TOK, students are also required to complete Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) hours. The IBO states, for creativity, students are expected to do activities that relate to the arts, and other things that require creative thinking. Activity should be things including physical activity and things that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. These activities “complement” the academic work of the DP program. Service should be voluntary work that has a “learning benefit for the student”.
The CAS requirements “encourage students to be outside the classrooms and be active co-curricularly,” Alex Park stated.
“It gives them real life situations where they have to apply all the thinking and reflective things that have been required to learn in their courses”.
“I find that this is one of the great merits of the DP program”, Park concludes.
Students Become More International and Open-Minded
According to the official IB webpage, “The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect”.
Through the DP program, the students meet this goal. “If it is taught right, and if students learn everything that the IB offers, it can help students to be more open-minded and international-minded”, said Park. She continued, “ For example in TOK classes, when we look at a specific topic, they are constantly reminded to look at things from different perspectives and not just their own. So with all that practice that they get from the TOK class I am confident to say that the students become more open-minded and they are constantly looking at global and social issues that happen beyond the land of Korea.”