In an ever complex and changing world, where the growth of human knowledge is accelerating at a pace faster than ever known to mankind, it is critical that we provide our next generation with the tools to adapt to this world and to succeed in it.
I believe that that provision lies in the International Baccalaureate Programmes currently offered in 146 different countries to over 1.1 million students, with 3671 schools authorized to offer one or more of its programmes.
I write this support for the IB wearing many hats: an IB Diiploma teacher, a Director of IB schools in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and now Thailand, an IB examiner, (for Higher level English), an IB authorization visitor, and most importantly, a parent who saw his daughters through the Middle Years and Diploma Programmes.
So why am I a big supporter? Firstly, the Diploma Programme is an all rounded programme that offers students the opportunity to study two languages, the arts, the sciences, and mathematics. It also offers a unique course in the Theory of Knowledge, exploring the nature of knowledge and instilling in students a natural and rigorous tendency to question their world and the veracity of what they see, hear and learn.
In addition, students in their second year write an extended essay which, from parental experience, allows students to go to University well grounded in independent learning, research, and essay writing. Both my daughters complained to me about the number of their friends who had gone through the traditional “A” level path, who would come to them for help at college on how to reference and how to research for longer papers than they had ever been forced to write.
And then there is the ethical piece. Because students are required to perform community service, and explore the concept and principles of service giving, there is a natural discipline of guiding students to want to make their world a better place.
Good CAS programmes, in essence achieve this, but also make it a life long process. Both my daughters have chosen careers which have been strongly influenced by those Community Service Programmes: one works in the UK for a charity called the Rainbow Trust, and is assigned to help and support families who have had a child diagnosed with a terminal illness. My second daughter is an actress who works with a charity group, which uses drama to educate prisoners in UK prisons, (including top security prisons for serious offenders,) about issues revolving around violence to women, homophobia and racism.
The IB programmes instill ethical values which are lifelong, offer strong preparation for both acceptance to top universities and success in them when enrolled: why would I not be a supporter, as well as a proud father.
By Peter J. McMurray, Head of Bangkok Schools