Monday 29 November 2021

International Baccalaureate

Every year International Baccalaureate (IB) students at Ivanhoe Grammar School participate in the annual Core Incursion. The Core Incursion provides students with an opportunity to complete the core components of the IB Programme, including the Theory of Knowledge Exhibition, Extended Essay research and writing and the Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) portfolio. In addition to completing some of the core assessments and activities, the Core Incursion doubles as a symposium, where students listen to guest speakers and participate in hands-on workshops with external organisations.

The aim of the symposium is for students to process the information they learn in class by connecting it to real-world situations and contexts. Each year the symposium is guided by a general theme, this year’s theme is ‘Ethics, Activism and Society’. The focus this year is for students to think about their IB studies in relation to ethical responsibility and personal challenges. Students will listen to talks by Dr Peter Little, Chair of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Animal Ethics Committee and Dr Carolyn D’Cruz, Senior in the Gender Sexuality Division Studies at Latrobe University. By engaging with professionals and academics working in practical ethics and social justice activism, students can better understand their own learning in the broader context of public and political debate. Moreover, students will be given the opportunity to work with Big Group Hug and The Life You Can Save, two charity organisations that will run workshops on how to design community service projects.

Interview with IB Coordinator, Nick Mercer

How long have you been teaching the IB?
I’ve been teaching the IB for nine years: six years in international schools in Singapore and three years at Ivanhoe Grammar School.

What drew you to the IB?
The IB teaching and learning philosophy. All of the IB programmes are designed to give teachers the flexibility to choose specific strategies to employ that best reflect their own particular contexts and the needs of their students. I find this empowering as a teacher; to be given the freedom and opportunity to design curricula and units that speak to the moment and speak to the students.  I also like the way the IB programme encourages teachers to teach using real-life contexts and examples, and how students are encouraged to process new information by connecting it to their own experiences and to the world around them.

What is the best thing about the IB?
The best thing about the IB is the comradery amongst the community of students and teachers. There is always a positive atmosphere among the IB cohort. A sense that everyone is taking the educational journey together. In an era where there is so much cynicism and pessimism, it is refreshing that with each cohort of IB students there is so much optimism and a genuine desire to make meaningful change in the world.

How have the IB students navigated the last two years of the disruptions and ups and downs of the pandemic?
Like all students in Melbourne over the course of the pandemic, IB students have had to navigate two tumultuous years. However, they have shown remarkable adaptability and resilience. The lockdown forced students to adapt, for example, rather than run their traditional Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) projects, the IB students had to come up with projects they could work on at home, like growing their own vegetable gardens or creating literary and politics podcasts with their peers. The exam preparation was also very challenging; however, I’m really proud of how all the IB students came through in the end. They have shown tremendous character.

What would you say to someone deciding whether to study IB or VCE?
My advice would be to think honestly about what kind of learner you are. Both VCE and IB are excellent programs, but their learner profiles are different. If you are someone who learns best in a highly structured environment with a learning pathway clearly set out for you then VCE is the better option. If you are someone who prefers to sometimes deviate from the curriculum, pursue your own interests and create your own learning pathway, then the IB affords you this freedom.