Friday, March 17, 2006

IB Controversial?

In the enriched curriculum family, the IB -- International Baccalaureate -- is the lesser known sister of the more popular Advanced Placement program. But it's gaining fans. The program is offered at 677 schools in the United States. The number of IB students worldwide grew 73 percent between 2000 and 2005, to 62,885. First started in Switzerland as an internationally-recognized curriculum for diplomats' kids, the IB pushes deep inquiry into subjects, international knowledge and lengthy writing assignments.

It's also, apparently, making enemies, according to this article from the Associated Press.

Some claim the curriculum is expensive, which is probably true. Some claim it is anti-American. I checked the IB website,, and it does seem that the "Individuals and societies" curricular area doesn't cover American history (it does cover Islamic history). However, IB is only a 2 year program. Presumably, American students would have studied American history in one of the other 4 years they're in middle or high school. Some also claim the IB is Marxist for its international angle, and the fact that the IB organization signed the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter is one of those funny documents that has nice sounding ideas (we will all live in peace and harmony) that, in the fine print, have the same level of realism as leprachauns. For instance, the Earth Charter states that we will, in our bright shining future, "eliminate corruption in all public and private institutions." Also, militaries will avoid activities damaging to the environment. I'm sure the militias fighting in the Sudan are thinking hard about how much they're recycling right now.

But anyway, so what? So the IB signed this charter calling for an equitable distribution of wealth among nations. Is it preferable to ditch the curriculum for this sin, and give bright kids the watered-down curriculum many schools offer, in which you learn almost nothing about economics and never have to write a 4,000 word paper on anything?

School should help kids learn to learn. You can do this reading Karl Marx, or Adam Smith, the Koran, the Bible, any work of serious social consequence. Rigorous analysis of all those works, in fact, would be preferable to the "color in a map of all the former Soviet Republics" method of learning I got in my middle years of schooling. (I got a B, by the way, because I shaded Kazakhstan in more than one color). The last thing American kids need is to lose a rigorous curricular option because of a political battle.


Laura Vanderkam said...

Sorry about the double post. Blogger has been down for maintenance, and didn't register the first time I tried. Thanks! Laura

Cindy said...

I love your blog very informative. I look forward to reading future post.

Laura Vanderkam said...

Thanks Cindy!

The Princess Mom said...

The "color in the map" comment made me laugh. For the last two months, every time I ask my 6th grader what he has for social studies homework, he says, "Coloring."

Anonymous said...

Should the school in my town even consider entering this program?

Anonymous said...

Lets face it, this is nothing more than the UN trying to make little socialists and global 'citizens' out of our kids. It's an expensive SCAM.

Our schools are run by the UN now what with Goals 2000 and all this fuzzy math nonsense.

Yank em out and home school if you want them to learn anything!

Kick IB to the curb if you hold the Bill of (natural)Rights dear.