"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

IB Curriculum and Conservative Resistance

IB stands for International Baccalaureate, an interesting, balanced, imaginative, and rigorous program that is being used successfully to attract minority students toward academic pursuits. Jay Mathews in the Washington Post has a piece on how it is being used in Maryland. Here is a description from Schenectady, New York's IB World School Site:
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program is an internationally recognized course of study for highly motivated 11th and 12th grade students. Currently, the program is offered in over 800 secondary schools in nearly 100 countries. To earn the IB diploma, students must pass examinations in 6 subject areas, write an extended essay of some 4,000 words describing an independent research project, complete 150 hours of creative, action, and service activities (CAS), and take part in a critical thinking seminar called Theory of Knowledge. This rigorous, comprehensive curriculum offers an integrated approach to learning while exposing students to a diversity of viewpoints in hopes of fostering tolerance and intercultural understanding.
Should it come as a surprise that this curriculum has already met resistance from the wing-nuts who see this curriculum as inappropriate, nay, unpatriotic--especially for African-American students. From the Post:
Some say IB does not align with some of the college courses for which it, like the much larger Advanced Placement program, was designed to substitute. Others say it puts too much emphasis on international understanding. One Fairfax County parent went so far as to say IB "promotes socialism, disarmament, radical environmentalism and moral relativism while attempting to undermine Christian religious values and national sovereignty."
The IB school certainly doesn't resemble the MacSchools for African-Americans that the privatizers are dreaming of--IB has no uniforms (brown?), no Open Court direct instruction, no open embrace of self-subjugation in a pre-conceived and fruitless future. Unpatriotic, I guess.


  1. Anonymous9:04 AM

    Great story. Interesting resistance from those who like to label anything real and inspiring or that involves taking a critical look at the world as "unAmerican." Reminds me how the American Legion trashed Harold Rugg's social studies textbooks and curriclum back in the 1950's during McCarthyism. They also claimed that he was "unpatriotic" when in fact he was actually more democratic and patriotic than his critics. It's the same old story, I suppose but it's nice to see that innovative and exciting programs are happening.

    I don't have any empirical data or information on this, but I suspect the accusation that the IB program does not align with the AP standards for college -- doesn't hold water and if it was put to the test or thoroughly investigated, it would be interesting to see how exactly those AP courses (that my daughter took all these years as the teachers spent most of their time teaching to the test)aligns with anything that would take place on the college level.


  2. Anonymous6:12 AM

    I agree that the right wing backlash against any type of constructivist sounding education is to be condemned. However, I would not form conclusions about IB from just reading this article. I've been doing some research on it lately and was surprised to find it actually has more connection to Open Court than what appears on the face of it.

    For one thing, one of the major financial contributors and publisher of the recent book on IB (co-written by Jay Mathews) is Blouke Carus, the original developer of Open Court! Carus. Carus is a big believer in education “polishing the image” of corporations (http://www.caruschem.com/vaward.htm). IB also gets a big push from lots of conservative think tanks such as the Fordham Foundation and they describe it in terms of standards based education, not what you see in the descriptions of IB on the IB website.

    Agian, I really don’t know if IB is a good program, and it sounds great when you read about it on the IB website, but I think some caution is in order. I also found some backlash against IB in Virgiana from some more normal sounding parents. (See http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040117-115053-8186r.htm
    and http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040117-115053-8186r.htm

  3. Anonymous10:51 PM

    IB is govern by Swiss law- which creates a loss of local control for school districts- The program promotes attitudes and values of UNESCO vs teaching core academics and fundamentals- We have been stuck in the PYP program for 4 years- I hate it- I feel it detracts from the state requirement- and the cost is huge to have this program put into your schools- IB teaches you to be a critical thinker but don't you dare question the IB program and the lack of results from this program-