Tiny chickens. Laying eggs. In my brain. (In layman’s terms, I’ve got a stuffy nose.) So, my faithful readers, I must apologize for the frequency (or lack thereof) of my posts. You see, I keep having really interesting conversations with the most excellent people, resulting in really interesting thoughts, but they never feel finished enough to share with you, so they languish, untranslated and hopeless, in my head. But no more! I have resolved to put a stop to this intellectual hoarding, so from this day forth, I will be peppering your inboxes with a lot of half-baked but potentially intriguing ideas. Look forward to it.
We’ll be starting with a topic that I could yammer on about for ages: education. (This will likely be a regular feature–as captivating as Keeping Up With The Kardashians, I assure you.) Today’s target (for lack of a better word) is the International Baccalaureate programme, which I admire in many ways but am perpetually frustrated by in others. The idea is to create engaged, well-rounded “life-long learners” who will be equipped to make the world a more sustainable and peaceful place, and the IB Organisation has devised a curriculum it believes will do just that. It consists of 6 main subject areas (native language, foreign language, social science, natural science, mathematics, and the arts) which a student studies for 1-2 years and is evaluated in by means of an exam and internal assessments, a philosophy course (Theory of Knowledge, affectionately/derisively referred to as ToK), an Extended Essay (a bit like a thesis), and a quota of hours devoted to creativity, action, and service. Perfect recipe for a balanced student!
Well, not quite. See, the thing is that students have the option of foregoing art in exchange for a second natural or social science. I completely understand that not everyone is artistically talented, but it’s really not fair to de-value art this way. Not everyone is predisposed to be successful in math, or science, or languages, either. I’ve personally been quite frustrated with this system, since I’m unhealthily enthusiastic about basically every other subject besides natural science (even Theory of Knowledge, which every other IB student I’ve met has despised). I’d be much happier doubling up on languages than dragging myself through a science course that doesn’t interest me at all, but the IB doesn’t cater to that sort of learner.
And this is where I get a bit conflicted. I’ve got this idea in my head that people should be well-rounded, and general ed requirements somehow allow people more freedom than if they were told to choose their own course load (we’ll be touching on this idea of boundaries as a path to liberation in a future post, I’m sure), but if asked to defend this view, I’d be speechless. Optimist that I am, I feel that students would be a lot more engaged in school if they found something in their courses that really lit them up mentally or seemed relevant, but there’s got to be value in structure and requirements. Right? Maybe? Thoughts?