Why IB? International education from the GSO IB Coordinator's point of view - GSO

Why IB? International education from the GSO IB Coordinator’s point of view

I have lost count of how many times I have been asked why the IB is so great and why I still choose to be an educator that believes in it. One of the main reasons I feel we must all support the IB is that technology, and the fact that the world is a lot smaller than it used to be, is leaving many other curricula behind that do not prepare students for what lies ahead.

Having gone to public schools in the US my entire life, there is no doubt I was not prepared to succeed at the life I have chosen to live. As the world develops at such a fast rate, the skills needed to thrive in modern societies increasingly go beyond traditional academic content and disciplines. There is growing evidence of the importance of 21st century skills, which encompass a wide range of skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and time management. These skills can prepare students to live and work in a world with rapidly evolving technologies and many complex issues. Simply put, the IB understands this and strives to meet those needs via forward thinking and training students to be more proactive in their own learning.

My journey with the International Baccalaureate began almost 8 years ago in Tbilisi, Georgia.

To be honest, I had never really understood what the IB was about, or why it was a program I would want to be involved with. I had heard only wonderful things, however, and decided to take a chance. I am very glad I did. One of the first things I learned was that at the core of the International Baccalaureate’s mission comes International mindedness. This concept has no specific, formal definition because it is described differently by individuals and organizations. However, common, agreed-upon, aspects of this concept involve an understanding for other people’s differences and cultures; respecting, valuing, and appreciating diversity; assuming responsibility to the global community; and acting as global citizens. Given the fact I had chosen to live my life overseas, this concept made total sense in my head and heart. I suppose this was the why for me in regards to my total decision to abandon other ways of teaching and take up the IB full-time. It, for me, was something that I was already living by and allowed me to learn even more and be around like-minded people.

As I taught more, the thing that I began to appreciate is the programme’s focus on the total growth of the developing child; encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic development.

Despite the fact I am the current GSO IB Coordinator, I am a Language A teacher by trade (I am also teaching this course here at GSO). The one thing that I constantly strive to instill in my students is the idea to question everything.

Is there a critic that describes Sylvia Plath’s poetry as stemming from her depression rather than any other form of motivation? Question it. Is there a philosopher saying that the Earth exists in concrete spaces and we will never be able to escape its confines? Question it. Is there a high ranking politician in a position of authority telling you that everything the press reports is “fake news?” Question it. The best way to find the neutral opinion is to read everybody else’s. Furthermore, it is impossible to have your own opinion until you have fully understood all options. An open-minded approach to learning is what sets the IB apart. It strives to teach children how to think and not what to think. This, in my opinion, is the most important part of education itself: it values exploration and encourages making mistakes in order to learn.

At GSO, we all work together to ensure that the skills we are trying to mold our students to posses, we are also cultivating in ourselves. Being the IB Coordinator has given me even more opportunities to interact with students on a personal level. Furthermore, it has allowed me to learn alongside their teachers, as well.

The community mindset we have created in here Oderzo is one that fosters growth and development on both a personal level, as well as a professional one.

Our philosophy is one of collaboration and ensuring a student-centered environment. There is no doubt that in just a few, short months we have all grown both independently, as well as together as a team. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the year brings.


Kim Philot

IB Coordinator