Explicitly developing skills in the IB programmes

Explicitly developing skills in the IB programmes

As more and more opportunities in higher education and varied career options open up, Indian students are making a shift to International Baccalaureate (IB) stream of curriculum. It is one of the most sought after high school diploma programme because it is believed to best prepare the learner for internationally renowned undergrad programmes and also for life as such! It is the place where diversity is truly respected and celebrated.  Students are equipped with not just knowledge, concepts but also explicitly developing the 21st century skills referred to as Approaches to Learning (ATL).

ATL are deliberate strategies, skills and attitudes that permeate the teaching and learning environment. ATL supports the IB belief that a large influence on a student’s education is not only what you learn but also how you learn. The IB provides holistic education to students, giving them a lifelong practical learning experience.

A 2007 survey of 400 hiring executives of major US corporations identified their top four requirements of new recruits as being oral and written communication skills, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, professionalism and work ethic, and teamwork and collaboration skills (Trilling and Fadel 2009).

An IB School helps students to hone the following core skills which are essential to make them 21st-century-ready in the global arena.

Learning skills, as part of ATL, are broadly defined to include information and processing skills (cognitive), behavior and emotional management skills (affective), and skills used to regulate the effectiveness of learning competencies and processes (metacognitive). Common across the PYP,MYP, and DP programmes, these skills are gathered into five categories as given in the above diagram. These five skill categories are viewed as closely linked and overlapping.

Key to ATL, along with its learning skills, are the six pedagogical principles that support teaching practices which aim to deepen student learning. These six fundamental principles underlie all IB programmes and are identified as:

  1. based on inquiry
  2. focused on conceptual understanding
  3. developed in local and global contexts
  4. focused on effective teamwork and collaboration
  5. differentiated to meet the needs of all learners
  6. informed by assessment (formative and summative). (International Baccalaureate Organization, 2015, pp. 66-67)

  1. Thinking Skills: IB curriculum improves a child’s ability to reason and to think critically by understanding the logical connection between ideas through the lens of concepts. The IB curriculum encourages students to analyze the reasons for the things that have gone well or wrong, and learn from the experiences to improve and refine their performance. Hence development of reflective thinking ensures that child’s ability to become a lifelong learner is underway! Creative thinking and the ability to transfer learning to other domains of knowledge are other strands in developing the left and the right side of the brain!
  2. Communication Skills: Be it academics or profession, presentation and communication skills: written, verbal or other non-verbal skills are the key to ensuring effective expression of thoughts, ideas and emotions. The IB curriculum stresses on acquiring such skills which make them more confident and precise. It is said that to communicate effectively in the workplace, you need to be able to present your information clearly. Engaging and connecting with an audience is vital to convey your message across in an impactful manner.
  3. Research Skills: Research skills are essential for students to be genuine inquirers which support them in higher studies and in the career ahead. These skills improve the ability to gather reliable and relevant information which can then be reviewed, analyzed and interpret it to derive the most balanced solution. It is the basis of any valuable project or study and is a skill that can make a big difference in not just a student’s career but also his life.
  4. Social Skills : Embedded within it is the idea of developing socio emotional learning. Specific training in social skills can have a number of other benefits, particularly for students with some form of pre-existing behavioral difficulty. These skills are closely linked to communication skills and also to attributes of the IB learner profile, such as being caring (for example, through students being aware of the impact of their behavior on others).
    Learning itself can also be seen to have a strongly social element. This idea is particularly associated with Vygotsky, who argued that “human learning presupposes a specific social nature and a process by which children grow into the intellectual life of those around them” (Vygotsky 1978: 88). In this approach, learning is a fundamentally active social process, and collaboration is a crucial way of constructing understanding and making meaning.
  5. Self-management Skills: These include developing organizational and time management skills, resilience, mindfulness and self-reflection. These are often referred as life skills which help to build a balanced and caring person.
    For the resilient learner, any challenge entails the possibility of failure and frustration, but it is this possibility that makes the challenge interesting and intrinsically motivating (Alfi, Assor and Katz 2004).Resilience is a vitally important part of self-management, and it includes learning from mistakes thus developing the learner profile of being a risk taker!
    Mindfulness for example means simply becoming more aware of your own perceptions as they happen, and in your thinking as it occurs. Helping students learn how to “stay in the moment” can help them to overcome distractions, increase attention and improve concentration (Brefczynski-Lewis et al. 2007).
    The beauty of an IB classroom is that these 5 skills are not just implicitly developed in the units of everyday learning but also a continuum map of ATL is developed collaboratively for its explicit development both across grades and subjects in day to day teaching and learning. The learner is ready for the world and ready for life!
    With the growing need for holistic and overall development, parents across the world are choosing the futuristic curriculum of IB schools for their children as it opens up many avenues globally for higher education and advanced career options. The IB programme is best suited for achieving life goals as it focuses on enhancing essential skills, aptitude and all-round personality of students.


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