Some widely held ideas about IB can lead educators, parents, and students to adopt faulty teaching and learning attitudes
MYTH #1: IB IS NOT SUITABLE FOR AN AVERAGE STUDENT
FACT: Students sometimes think that the IB is for only smart, intelligent students. This is false. No one is great at everything, and in the IB you have the option of studying the subject you like or are good at. You will take some subjects at the higher level (HL) and others at the standard level (SL) and you have full control over which ones you take at higher level. If you feel you don’t have subjects that you are strong at, the breadth of the IB will benefit you, but you, of course, will have to put in the effort. In other words, any student committed to learning can be successful at the IB.
MYTH #2: IB IS USEFUL ONLY FOR UNIVERSITY PREP
FACT: Yes, the IB is useful for students going to universities, but the IB also allows students to develop skills that many employers look for. Extensive research on employability skills on the IBDP has found that many jobs in the future will require problem-solving and creative thinking skills- skills that students develop in the IBDP. The IB goes beyond academic learning. Take TOK, for example. This course is designed to hone the student’s critical thinking skills, inquiring into the process of acquiring knowledge rather than merely rote learning. In short, the breadth of the IB opens up all kinds of doors for students and, in a way, prepares their minds for life.
MYTH #3: YOU CAN’T HAVE A LIFE BECAUSE IB IS JUST TOO DIFFICULT
FACT: Don’t let naysayers get in your way. You can have a life while you do the IB; you just need to plan your studies strategically. Sure, the IB can be challenging. So is teaching or learning a new language. We do it anyway. The IB is flexible, so you have some control over planning your journey. Examine your strengths and weaknesses to understand better what subjects you want to take at HL and SL. Think about your university programs and career options, too. As an IB student, you are offered support by your teachers, who also work closely with your parents, to ensure the best outcomes for you. The bottom line is nothing is worthwhile without some hard work and effort. With the right mind and attitude, you are likely to survive the course and do well.
MYTH #4: IB IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO AP
FACT: Not quite. The IB is actually offered to elementary, middle, and high school whereas AP is offered to high school exclusively. AP is subject-based while the IB offers holistic learning. The AP program is more likely to be popular among American students because it is an American-based program that offers courses high school students can take to advance to college. Furthermore, you can take an AP exam without taking a corresponding AP course, but to take the IB exam, you must be enrolled in an IB class. Ultimately, both programs are beneficial in their own ways.
MYTH #5: IB TEACHERS ARE CLUELESS
FACT: Teachers come in all sorts and just as there are good teachers, there are teachers who could do better. To say that all IB teachers don’t know what they’re doing is false. Here’s what the IB has to say:
IB teachers are given access to:
- high quality professional development that encourages critical thinking, self-reflection and dedication to lifelong learning and continuous improvement
- innovative and diverse education frameworks, unit planners, teaching resources and evaluation tools
- certification and degree programmes offered by highly respected universities worldwide
- a pedagogy known to produce students who are motivated to continue inquiry and lifelong learning, beyond school study
We see that IB supports a teacher through various resources and tools. Teachers can also attend a wide range of professional development courses such as online and face-to-face workshops. IB schools also typically recruit teachers with prior IB teaching experience.