International Baccalaureate: Widening Appeal

International Baccalaureate: Widening AppealTen posts over the past two years, tell me (at least anecdotally) that the International Baccalaureate (IB) is making schools and their academic officers think.

It’s easy to understand the IB philosophy and curriculum appealing to and meshing with boarding and private schools- with their commitments to worldliness, broad thinking and connections, diversity, and tolerance.  It’s fascinating, and great, to see boarding schools offering the IB, such as New Hampton, adopt it as more than a curriculum, but as a fundamental organizing and thinking principle.

The IB’s rigorous requirements will not fit every student, but IB philosophy and lessons can serve as the foundations for a school-wide curriculum and outlook.

Back in July, Tamar Lewin covered the rise of the IB at Greely High School in Cumberland, ME (International Program Catches On in U.S. Schools).

“When our grads would visit from college, they’d tell us that while Greely gave them great academic preparation, they’d had no idea there was a big wide world out there,” said David Galin, Greely’s I.B. coordinator.

Much like New Hampton School, Greely seems to have adopted the IB for more than its rigor and perceived leg-up in the college admission game.  Greely seems to be looking for more worldly thought and connection for its students.

“Our students don’t have as much diversity as people in some other areas, so this makes them open their eyes,” said Deb Pinkham, the program’s English teacher.

IB adoption isn’t a smooth, or easy, decision. Using the IB curriculum is much easier for private school administrations as they operate free from local politics. A fringe of parents and politicians see the IB as a United Nations internationalist movement that impinges on American and local sovereignty and self determination. The xenophobia seems barely contained. Bluntly, I was surprised that Lewin and the NY Times gave as much copy as they did to the anti-IB position.

The IB curriculum competes and squeezed established Advanced Placement courses. Teachers and administrators have to be trained in the model and students have to ‘up their game.’

Adjusting to the IB comes with bumps, scrapes and adjustments. Lewin provides this vignette from Kennebunk High School (ME):

“…Down the coast, where Kennebunk High School just graduated its first group of I.B. students, Sue Cressey, the I.B. coordinator, said that most of the students in the program the first year had thought about dropping out.

“There was a bad period after everybody flunked a biology exam,” she said. “I had to send a letter home to parents, reassuring them. It’s a new way of thinking, but the kids grew into it. I feel better about sending these kids to college than any group I’ve ever sent.”

Michael Tahan, one of the Kennebunk High School graduates explained to Lewin:

“In our Theory of Knowledge class, when we debated health care, my role was to take Rush Limbaugh’s position, which couldn’t be further from my own…I.B. taught us how to think through a position, and support it…and while I understand why some parents might worry that the program is international-based, I think it’s good for America for students to learn how others nations think.”

That, right there, is the work of an American lawyer in the American legal system.  It doesn’t get any more American than that.

Photo credit: JohnRHawk licensed under Creative Commons

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention International Baccalaureate: Widening Appeal --

  • Teacher

    It’s a sad day when any country allows the UN agenda to be running our schools. They have only one thing in mind and that’s the mission and goal of IB.

  • "my role was to take Rush Limbaugh’s position, which couldn’t be further from my own"

    Great. I can just imagine how this poor brainwashed child misrepresented Rush's position on Obamacare. Surely it wasn't done in a respectful, thoughtful manner.

    Funny how this author never bothers to mention the outrageous cost of this globalist educational scam. IB does not belong in American public schools.

  • We are a community of nations and its only right that me and my peers are taught the best ways to improve the condition of the whole world not just our own country. Try a broader view, like human beings, not American citizens.

Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

More by Brian Fisher

Subscribe for email updates: