BLOG PAGE: A View from the Bridge
By Mr. Clayton
By Mr. Clayton
Last week the international stream hosted its first extended essay exhibition. This exhibition showcased the work, knowledge and understanding of our year 13 students. It was an opportunity for the year 13 students to explain in a ‘viva voce’ style how much they knew about a self-chosen topic. As importantly it allowed our year 11 and 12 students to see first-hand what the extended essay process is all about, how you might go about producing an EE and how long it takes to do so. It also allowed parents to witness the depth and detail of the knowledge and understanding required by IB students to complete the diploma course.
What is the extended essay? It has to be an original piece of research and work of 4000 words chosen by the student in collaboration with their teacher. The teacher acts like a university tutor and guides the student through the process. The student must research very carefully, must draft and re-draft and must produce a fully referenced university style thesis. The research questions should be drawn from the subjects that the student is studying. To witness the students talking with massive authority on subjects as diverse as ‘What is the market structure represented by the hair salon industry in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong?’ to ‘How does Nabakov use the character of Humbert in Lolita to manipulate the reader’s feelings and potentially impair the reader’s sense of judgement and understanding of reality?’ was awe-inspiring. It got me to thinking about what we are really trying to achieve in schools and how far the IB meets that need.
Various people have variously said, ‘Education is what remains when one has forgotten what one has learned in school.’ This can mean several things. For me one of the most important of the meanings is that education has to be authentic and memorable. The extended essay exhibition ticked both boxes. It was an authentic experience not only producing an academic piece of work but also for an audience too. It was clearly memorable. The students afterwards were all happy to have completed the task but rightly proud to explain it to teachers (I found out about eco-friendly paint and F Scott Fitzgerald’s view of idealised love: though not at the same time!), fellow students, and parents of people they didn’t know. It also reminded me of the famous quote too by JS Bruner who said ‘Education is a process, not a product.’ This was clearly shown. The process of both writing the essay and then talking about it with such depth and conviction showed clearly that the process was everything. The process led to deep learning. The creation of such a piece of work is also great practice for time at university. One of the key things that universities love about IB is the extended essay. IB students come equipped with the skills and know-how to perform well in a university setting.
The IB diploma is a philosophy, a holistic approach to education that tries to inculcate in the students many aptitudes and attributes such as being risk-takers, open-minded and great communicators. Today’s world is complex and multi-faceted and is very well summed up by a part of the IBO’s mission statement, ‘ (to) encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.’ If we succeed in even part way achieving this then we can be rightly proud that what we are doing is truly impacting the world for future generations.
Photos of the evening can be found in Gallery as well as a reflection from year 13 students in 'Secondary news '
“Set your intentions for the week ahead. People who plan, achieve.”
As you will no doubt have noticed, FIS Secondary students are now using a planner as part of their everyday equipment. In an age when more and more people are organising their lives in a digital format, why did we choose this type of planner for our students?
The main purpose is so that students have a tried and tested method for putting down all the important data for them not to miss key events. The obvious one is the lesson timetable, (see page 3 and smaller versions on pages 190/1). An improvement for next year will be to have two blank ones, so that Weeks A & B can be put in separately. The Homework Timetable (Years 7-9) can be inserted on pages 184/5, and can also be found on the school website.
Teachers will be focusing over the next few weeks on reminding the students to write their homework in the planner. We all have our own ways of recording information, but I would encourage each child to write down full details of the homework set on the day it is given and make a note of when it is due. When completed they should then put a tick in the penultimate column (done) to show that they do not need to worry about it anymore. Parents – it would be a good idea to check from week to week to see if this is being done.
There are other key bits of information that set this planner apart from the ones you can buy as an app or in the bookshops. It is made for learners in mind:
Finally, the end section of the book has an excellent forward planner, where students can note down key events that they need to remember through the school year. These come up frequently, as opportunities to do extra things occur naturally during the year.
The busier life gets, the more there is a need to keep all your plans in one place. School life is busy – the planner makes it more manageable! So, if you do not already have one you need to get down to the bookstore and get one now!