What skills do we need in our ‘life’ suitcase when we leave school and begin our journey in the big wide world?
We need to have an inquiring mind and be prepared to take a few risks, even if it means that sometimes we will fail. This determination will make us resourceful and more resilient in the face of challenge and change. We need to know how to think and reflect on what we learn. If we can do that then we can be principled and act with integrity and honesty. We want to be knowledgeable, but we also need to be able to communicate and be open minded so that we can grow from our experiences. All these admirable skills or attributes will; however, be of little use if we are not able to care for others. We need empathy and respect, and a commitment to service, so that we can make a positive difference on our travels. It is these attributes that the International Baccalaureate and Mansfield Steiner School aim to cultivate in our students. It is our shared belief that individuals and groups who possess such attributes, become responsible members of local, national, and global communities. Our School had the vision to provide the community with an exceptional secondary education that would be aligned with Steiner pedagogy, a holistic education that attends to the heart and the hand, not just the head. That was over a decade ago, and we are now about to enter our final semester with our first year 12 IB Diploma, with our next cohort ready for 2022.

The aim of the International Baccalaureate or IB, is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. The IB recognises that each school is unique and needs to consider its own context and the community it serves before deciding the best way forward. The IB curriculum offers rigorous academic achievement as well as core subjects for personal growth. In our highly interconnected and rapidly changing world, IB programs aim to deliver international mindedness in a global context, firmly anchored in local values, traditions, and environment.

There has been a conscious commitment to provide a balanced education and to support this, students study from as broad a range of disciplines as possible. The Diploma curriculum is delivered over a two-year period in Years 11 and 12.  There are six academic subject groupings and students must undertake one subject from each. We offer the following:

  1. Studies in Language and Literature: Literature
  2. Language Acquisition: French
  3. Individuals and Societies: History
  4. Sciences: Chemistry
  5. Mathematics: Applications and Interpretations
  6. The Arts: Visual Arts

In addition to these, the original curriculum designers included Core subjects, as a way to educate the whole person. The core consists of three separate elements, but links and relationships are evident between them. As the name suggests, Core supports the interconnectedness of learning and aims to
• support, and be supported by, the academic disciplines
• foster international-mindedness
• develop self-awareness and a sense of identity

Theory of Knowledge: Is learning about how we learn. A key aim of TOK is to encourage students to reflect on their experiences as learners in everyday life and to make connections between academic disciplines and between thoughts, feelings and actions.

Community, Activity, Service: Aims to provide service to fellow students and to the larger community both in and outside school. Through this experience students grow both personally and socially, developing skills such as cooperation, problem solving, conflict resolution and creative and critical thinking. It is also through service that IB students may make the connections between their academic studies and real life.

Extended Essay: Academic in nature, it is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity. The essay is an in-depth, individual inquiry into a focused topic, normally one of the student’s six academic subjects. It provides students with an opportunity to engage in personal research into a topic of their own choice.

There will always be debate surrounding education, what schools should teach and how they should teach it. A key element of the IB programs is the emphasis on how the subject matter and information is delivered to students, referred to as Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATL). Delving a little deeper into educational pedagogy, ATL are used to design a coherent curriculum based on learning and metacognitive skills (awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes). Educationalists often refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy to identify different thinking skills. Bloom identified six levels of cognitive learning: remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating, and creating. The first three are foundation skills, the remaining are higher thinking skills. These are the ones that we work hard to develop in our IB Diploma students through active engagement in real-world applications. This is the driver behind many of the classroom experiences and tasks that our IB students undertake.
This series of three articles have hopefully given you some insight into how we help our students pack their ‘life’ suitcase. If they are entering the workforce, we are confident that they have received a well-rounded education and are prepared to explore what’s out there. If they are aiming for university, they are well-positioned. The IB Organisation works consistently to make sure the Diploma is globally recognized by universities, with its students gaining competitive offers for further study. Higher education institutions around the world admit students based on their IB credentials and nationally, the IB score ranks highly in the VTAC ATAR system. Too many acronyms? Why not attend our information evening on the Tuesday 3rd August to learn more about this exciting secondary education opportunity?

Sue Plumb
IB Coordinator