Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Keyholders

Written by Alexander Jay Ludington
Class of 2010

I was in the Philippines for three weeks this January. I had heard of this well-known international school in my family's home town of Baguio City called Brent School. What I didn't know was that my family has a history teaching there: My great-grandfather taught there to support his eight children, and now two of my cousins teach there. I was also excited to learn, during my recent trip, that it is an International Baccalaureate school!

Beyond all the incredible things I learned in I.S. and lifelong perspectives it granted me, I think what validated the program's success was the conversation I had with one of those cousins who teaches IB English at Brent School. I had probably met her (Celeste Reyes) once before in my life, and our relationship that night reflected the polite awkwardness that distant relatives often share at such dinners. But once it was established that she taught IB English and I had graduated with a certificate in that class, the rest of the family disappeared from our periphery and all our attention was centered around this connection. We talked about the books that she assigns that I had read, the other classes I took that her school offers, and the overall effect of the IB program.

She was very interested in how my English teacher guided us through the curriculum, and strategies she used to engage her students. Since Mrs. Enochs was one of my favorite teachers, and I often think about the effect her class has had on me, I obviously had a lot to say. Verbalizing my experience in IB helped to shed more light on the incredible program it is. I explained to Celeste the four-part nature of the English department wherein each year would rely on concepts and terms that were expected to have been mastered the year before, and how there was amazing communication (or at least it seemed that way to me) between the instructors of each year. By senior year, I told her, we were able to dissect a page of narrative, rendering it nothing more than blocks of figurative language, themes, imagery, and a touch of authorial intent.

At many points of our conversation about the nature of IB, the Theory of Knowledge class was brought up. This was because we both are aware that this is really the cornerstone of the curriculum. It was then that I realized that what sets IB apart from all other types of secondary education, is its focus on meta-cognition. Instead of feeding the students information to the point where they could recite it to meet standards, IB really instills the value of knowing HOW to learn, and HOW we know what we know! These thought processes are what I will always have with me. This motivation to dig deeper and question everything is what I see as the mark of a true IB student.
The true success of International Baccalaureate is just that: it is international. There are other students being introduced to the joys of learning, and are being granted with the invaluable to synthesize information. As I said, this realization came to me during that awesome conversation with my distant cousin high up in the mountains of the Philippines. Thank you IB!

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