IB is billed as being superior to traditional American public schools because it's, well, international. Part of that claim involves the fact that IB in Dubai, or Sao Paulo or London is "supposed" to be the same as IB in New York City, San Diego or Miami. TAIB is pleased to feature e-mails received from international IB teachers on this page.
I want to make this short. I 100% agree with you and your website. I wish the rest of the world would wake up. I have worked at a small international school for 15 years. It was a beautiful school, with great education and lots of fun for the students. Unfortunately 5 years ago, the new head (who came from an infected IB school) decided to bring his agenda to our school. It started out as a diploma school and now it has turned into a pyp school. I love this city and this country, but my daughter is now 16 and because of the costs and time restrictions put on the school for IB classes, we can no longer offer a normal High School diploma and clubs/electives. I am leaving this international school and going home where she can be educated in a normal school where she doesn't have to stay up until midnight studying and actually have loads of fun. When the IB slithered into our school I was forced to act as the PYP coordinator for 1 year. Being the principal of the elementary school I had to sit and watch the school that I built get destroyed. The students were previously getting a great education and we offered plenty of "inquiry" through solid research reports and science experiments. The IB offices mandated that we can no longer use textbooks (however the IB and MYP focus heavily on IB produced wrote learning math textbooks!!). Due to the unhappiness nature of the school now, our the turnover is high. We had teachers stay on for 6-8 years. They now rotate in every 2 year contract. With me leaving, the longest serving elementary teacher is now 1 year. What this means is every teacher has to now be sent to training. The IBO used to require only 80% of your staff to be trained. They have just changed it to 100%. This means more money for them, and more inductions into their cult which is brainwashing schools around the world. It is also very dangerous in the way that it is shaping education around the world. I understand your frustration with the IB, however I think you might want to tone down your website so educated people don't think you guys are nutbags, which I know you aren't. I want people to take your message seriously. Good riddance to my school. I look forward to a great life back home being educated the same way I was educated, the same way the leaders of countries were educated and the very same way that that those who invented the IB were educated in. It worked. Thanks again for your wonderful website.
~J.W. IB Asia 5/31/12
What do I have to say? Well so much that I can't get it all into one email.
I have worked in three IB Schools in South America and the Middle East and in each one have experienced nothing but chaotic teaching and students lacking basic skills in Maths, English and Science.I have seen a good school brought to its knees academically after the introduction of PYP and in a space of 7 years have seen 5 PYP coordinators and as many heads of primary leave or being given the axe. I have seen confused and unhappy parents who feel that their concerns are being ignored (which they are) and I have seen students worsening in their basic skills year on year until they are arriving to begin their final years of primary with no basic maths English or Science skills.
PYP coordinators vary in their approach to the system but that's part of the problem because ask around and you will find that there is no defined way to teach PYP.However,use of text books is strictly discourged and I have seen one very sad year where all our great Maths and English books were collected from classrooms and locked away.....leaving a great free for all in the classroom. I have not yet met a PYP coordinator who can pinpoint exactly how they expect us to teach...rather they resort to vague ramblings about attitudes and learner profiles. We are expected to reward students on their adherance to the learner profile rather than on specific academic achievement. We are not encouraged to grade or place students and as a result the students themselves, the parents and teachers are ignorant of progress or attainment.
PYP training courses are as vague and woolly as what goes on in the classroom and yet it costs 1000"s of dollars to train all staff in IB methodology after which they still have no idea what they are supposed to be doing.I have been on a number of these courses and have been given different answers to the same question often on the same course. If you ask a question that is too awkward or that directly contradicts the phliosophy that question will not be answered.If you ask the same questions in school you are quicky branded as a trouble maker.This seems to be the main job of PYP coordinators...to single out anyone asking awkward questions and to whisper in managements ear that such and such a person is negative (favourite word used to describe anyone who puts their head above the parapet)
Apart from the underlying agenda of IB which anyone with eyes and a brain should be able to spot(and very neatly exposed in your website) the actual academic advantages of IB are very difficult to measure in international teaching. Most international schools have transient students and so it is more than impossible to prove the fact that" little Johnny"s" inability to perform well in his new secondary school is anything to do with the fact that in his most vital years he was playing around in a PYP curriculum school and reached grade 6 with no reasonable literacy or numeracy skills. There are such a host of other factors that can so easily be pointed to ...the teacher (long gone) school policy,emotional upset and so time after time the IB escapes under the radar when looking for accountability.
PYP is loved mostly by parents of children with learning difficulties because there is no benchmark against which they can be measured and found wanting. However,they are doing their kids a dis-service with this because at the end of the day they need to realise that their children do need help to achieve basic skills, which in some PYP schools are never addressed because the focus is all about the attitudes and the learner profile. Some teachers also love it because there really is no accountability on their part. Sure the kids are "assessed" but these are usually on rubrics made up by the teacher ie " can produce a poster about hot air".Rubrics are not often related to actual academic benchmarks because many PYP schools throw such things out of the window as being old fashioned or not child friendly.
There is a lot of emphasis on student led lessons...not workable in my opinion because most students,unless geniuses need leading by a qualified and experienced teacher (sorry'''facilitator because of course teacher is a no-no word in many schools).I love the words life long learner espoused by the IB. For this I read...they will need to be life long learners because it will take them the rest of their lives to learn what should have been taught them in school.Of those teachers who are really concerned about the student's progress you will find that those who are not afraid to tell the truth will say that they teach National or some other curriculum in their classes and just "pretend" to teach in the PYP way.
You may find that people will be reluctant to post on your website because of the fear of repercussions. I feel so strongly about it all that I need to say something....though at the end of the day I too need a job and for most international teachers IB is fast becoming established in most schools round the world. I have really tried to understand it and get involved in it and have been on many training courses to this end but at the ned of the day it still all leaves me where I was at the beginning. My next teaching post will be,I hope in a non IB school providing there are any left in the world.