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 '