The International Baccalaureate Program – What Is It?

The driving force behind all IB programs is a deeply held philosophy about the nature of international education. This philosophy is reflected firstly in the IB mission statement, which expresses the IB’s overall purpose as an organization promoting and developing programs of international education, and secondly in the IB learner profile, which is the IB mission statement translated into a set of learning outcomes for the 21st century.

The ten aspirational qualities of the learner profile represent the essence of the program and describe the kind of student who, in establishing a personal set of values, will be laying the foundation upon which international-mindedness will develop and flourish.

Middle Years Program (MYP) is an educational program intended for students aged approximately 11 to 16 (grades 6–10 in International Schools. MYP students are at an important age of transition, of personal, social, physical and intellectual development, of uncertainty and questioning, of searching for relevance and meaning. Emerging adolescents, influenced by their years of primary schooling, are entering a phase where their social and cultural experiences in and outside school have a determining impact on their perception of themselves, their self-esteem, their sense of identity and their capacity to relate to others.

The MYP is devised to help students develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills they need to participate actively and responsibly in a changing and increasingly interrelated world. This implies a “living curriculum” (Beane 1993), one that calls for more than “knowing”: it involves reflective thinking, both critical and creative, about ideas and behavior. It includes problem solving and analysis, clarification and discussion of personal beliefs and standards on which decisions are made. It also leads to critical thinking and action.

The MYP is designed to teach students to become independent learners who can recognize relationships between school subjects and the world outside, who can adapt to new situations and combine relevant knowledge, practical and social intelligence to solve authentic problems alone or in groups.

Successful teaching of the program requires commitment to its fundamental principles on the part of the whole school community, and a high degree of communication and collaboration between teachers. The program aims to enable students to: 
• build upon their spirit of discovery to develop an understanding and enjoyment of the process of learning, independently and in cooperation with others
• acquire knowledge, understanding and skills, and prepare for further learning
• recognize the extent to which knowledge is interrelated in a variety of ways
• develop a sense of personal and cultural identity and a respect for themselves and for others
• acquire insights into local and global concerns affecting health, the community and the environment, and develop a sense of individual and collective responsibility and citizenship.

The three fundamental concepts of the MYP
Adolescents are confronted with a vast and often bewildering array of choices. The MYP is designed to provide students with the values and opportunities that will enable them to develop sound judgment. From its beginning, the MYP has been guided by three fundamental concepts that are rooted in the IB mission statement. These three fundamental concepts are: 
• holistic learning—representing the notions that all knowledge is interrelated and that the curriculum should promote the development of the whole person, whose attributes are described by the IB learner profile
• intercultural awareness—representing the notion that school communities should encourage and promote international-mindedness by engaging with and exploring other cultures, a key feature of international education as reflected in the attributes of the IB learner profile
• communication—representing the notion that schools should encourage open and effective communication, important skills that contribute to international understanding as exemplified by the attributes of the IB learner profile.

Springfield, Missouri is rich in education and blessed to have such great schools carrying the IBO programs. Beginning in elementary the program is introduced. Springfield is the only K-12 IB program in the state of Missouri and only 1 of 24 in the nation. Boyd Elementary is one of only two elementary schools in Missouri authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. IB PYP focuses on the total growth of the developing child by offering an international, inquiry-based curriculum of themes that go across all subjects in the school. All students receive weekly second language instruction in Spanish.

In 2010, Pipkin Middle School was certified as an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program World School. These are schools that share a common philosophy – a commitment to high quality, challenging, international education; responsible citizenship and the importance on learning how to learn and communicate that Pipkin Middle School believes is important for all of our students.

Central High School, Springfield’s oldest high school, is authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) to offer its Diploma Program for highly motivated academically focused students. The program is designed for high school juniors and seniors, and offers a rigorous, pre-university curriculum for which students prepare during their freshmen and sophomore years at Central.

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