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IB Programmes at SCIS: The Values of Inquiry, Reflection, and Focusing on Student Interest

By Dr. Amy Valerio, Upper School Principal at SCIS Hongqiao 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) education has gained recognition worldwide for its holistic approach to education and its comprehensive approach to student learning. With an emphasis on inquiry and reflection and a focus on appealing to student interests, the IB programme inspires and prepares students for their university and beyond. 

Reflection: Students engage in many reflective practices that help support their personal growth. In each of their classes, there are opportunities for students to reflect on the work that they do. In a recent Grade 8 Theatre unit, students created and regularly reflected in learning journals. These journals allowed them to think about both their understanding of what they learned and their ability to apply that understanding to the scenes they were writing and performing about Greek Theatre. This introspection nurtures personal growth and encourages students to explore their thinking. These opportunities allow students to improve their process for the future and allow teachers to provide meaningful feedback on the process. 

Inquiry: In IB, there is a focus on nurturing curiosity and problem-solving skills. The Middle Year Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP) place great value on fostering an inquisitive mindset by encouraging students to question, investigate, and critically analyze information. Students ask questions about their learning and explore how their unit of study relates to their knowledge, their interests, and the applications of their learning. Students are encouraged to have ownership of their academic journeys. A recent Grade 9 Individuals and Societies unit included an exploration of leadership. In this unit, students ask questions about what makes a good leader and spend time determining how different cultures value, memorialize and celebrate influential leaders or important members of their society. Students then draw meaningful connections across time and space. Students reviewed the characteristics of both exemplary and weak leaders and then were set on a task to explore leaders through time.  Prepared with these and other questions, students can dive deep into the topic, develop their theories about leadership, and apply them to present-day leaders. One of the most dynamic questions: Should leaders consider their legacy? By engaging in open-ended inquiries, students develop problem-solving abilities that extend beyond the classroom, preparing them for the challenges of the future. 

Student Interest: The IB programme recognizes the importance of student interest and discovery in the learning process. By incorporating student choice and flexibility into the curriculum, learners can explore topics and subjects that genuinely ignite their curiosity. By planning for student interest, faculty can foster intrinsic motivation, student ownership over their learning, and agency, all of which lead to deeper engagement and, ultimately, higher levels of achievement. Throughout the MYP and DP programmes there are many opportunities to build on their interests and discover where their interest might lead them. The Grade 10 Personal Project, where student topics range from investigating how builds are designed to withstand the force of an earthquake to creating an app for students to be connected to service agencies so they can provide support, is a clear example of these opportunities for exploring student individual interests. 

At SCIS, we know that an IB education stands out due to the focus on reflection, inquiry, and focusing on student interest. By incorporating these key elements, the IB empowers students to become invested in their education, leading to lifelong learning. 

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