Testimonials on IB
The International Baccalaureate Programme is based on an intensive university preparatory curriculum. “The IB program will open so many doors for me when it comes to choosing universities,” says Myriam Choma, a Grade 12 student at Ashbury College in Ottawa, Ontario. “The program focuses on school work and on developing you as a whole person—I didn’t find that in any of my other schools.” Myriam moved to Ottawa from Luxembourg last year and enrolled in Ashbury’s two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
“The goal behind the IB curriculum is to have the students become experts in the subjects they’re studying,” says the school’s International Baccalaureate co-ordinator, Marilynne Sinclair. “Instead of reading history textbooks, they become historians, looking for primary and secondary source materials, conducting research and learning to write objectively.”
When IB students aren’t in the classroom, they can be found working on the creativity action service component of the curriculum. “Right now, I’m taking yoga classes, participating in a cooking club and tutoring younger students,” says Myriam. “I’m learning so much and experiencing so many new things.”
Glenlyon Norfolk School in Victoria, British Columbia, has had many incarnations: As two separate, gender-segregated schools; as a unified, coed school; and now, stretching its scope to include the international gold standard as an International Baccalaureate World school.
“The IB program is not just about finding out what the right answers are; it’s about finding out what the right questions are,” says Deirdre Chettleburgh, Director of Admissions.
The school started incorporating the International Baccalaureate Programme—which emphasizes an inquiry-based approach to learning—in 1996, and now offers all three divisions of the popular system: junior, middle and senior.
“It reflects how education is changing, becoming much more active than just taking notes and memorizing text,” Chettleburgh says.
While many of the school’s IB students stay in Canada to attend university, some members of the 2008 graduating class will be travelling to Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts and to schools as far away as Switzerland and England to study next year.
Matthew, a 2007 graduate from Grey Gables in St. Catharines, Ontario, beat thousands of applicants for a spot in University of Waterloo’s computer science co-op program. He credits his International Baccalaureate. “A grade from the IB will be equal no matter where it’s given. There can’t be favouritism in the school or different marking curves in a certain geographical region,” he explains.
The diploma, earned in addition to a student’s OSSD, opens the possibility of being educated anywhere in the world for students willing to put in the extra effort.
“It’s a much more rounded approach. It prompts you to reflect more on what you learned in class. If you were to write a research paper for a class on a bunch of facts, you might remember it for the rest of the week or the rest of the year. In IB, it sticks with you.”
Esther’s father works for a Dutch company and is subject to transfer. Last year, he was moved with his family from Japan to Vancouver. But Esther, who just completed the crucial Grade 11, does not have to worry about her marks being accepted back in Europe.
“When we came here we were looking for an IB school. That’s why we chose Stratford Hall,” she says. The International Baccalaureate, administered from Geneva, establishes an internationally accepted common curriculum and university entrance requirements, and is available in 124 countries, including Canada.
That’s not to say her schooling lacks a Canadian flavour: “I find Canadian history fascinating,” Esther says. “Especially the Great Depression. And we have been studying Canadian poets and writers like Timothy Findley. I like my school here very much.”