IB program could benefit Grady as compared to SLC’s

The Southerner

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With the removal of the Magnet program in 2010, Grady is in desperate need of a new, good academic program that sets Grady apart from many other high schools as academically rigorous and high-achieving. Don’t get me wrong, I think Grady students are exceptional in many ways, but I also think there are opportunities that should be offered at Grady that currently are not.

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is an international educational program for students aged 3 to 19. Founded in 1968, it is offered in 3,462 schools and in 143 countries. It aims at creating an international-mindedness in students by promoting understanding, toleration and a positive dialogue between different cultures and people, a skill that could be greatly used today and one that seems a perfect fit for a Grady community that already embraces the same values.

All IB students learn a second language and choose from a variety of classes in the following categories: Individuals and Societies, Mathematics and Computer Science, Experimental Sciences, and the Arts. Students also need to have at least 150 hours of creativity, action or service activities. One of the most distinguishing features of the IB program, however, is the required Theory of Knowledge class. TOK is a class centered on studying the acquisition of knowledge, and is similar to epistemology. Finally, the IB program is characterized by the Extended Essay, a 4,000-word independent research paper, which is required for all students in their senior year. I know I may seem crazy for actually wanting to do these things, but the rigor of the IB program is what makes it exceptional. If done well, you can learn a lot from these requirements.

The program is a comprehensive continuum as it consists of three different programs that span from kindergarten to graduation. It is known for its rigorous courses, but I think they could be beneficial to the college preparatory curriculum and mindset at Grady. The courses offered by the IB program would also help to instill useful study skills in students for college. Many AP classes are still offered in tandem to the IB program, but higher level (or even standard level) IB classes stick out to college admissions officers more than the typical AP classes that are offered at nearly every high school across the nation. And like the Magnet Program, many colleges hold the IB program in high esteem. It is recognized in more than 2,000 universities in 75 countries around the world, many of which will provide scholarships for IBDP recipients. Essentially, an IB diploma looks considerably better to most colleges than a diploma from the ambiguously defined and relatively new “Small Learning Communities.”

Although I recognize that there are certain benefits to the SLC’s at Grady, I disagree with their fundamental premise, which is that students should start specializing in a certain skill in high school. It’s important to explore and learn about a wide variety of fields so that one can become more skilled and versatile for a greater number of career choices. The IB program allows for students to make more informed decisions regarding their futures and careers. And while there are international programs that allow Grady students to travel abroad or host a foreign-exchange student, there is not enough of an emphasis on international relations at Grady. Having an understanding and appreciation for the world around us is more valuable to us than any Business and Entrepreneurship class for freshman.

So, instead of specializing our education in high school,  we should consider broadening it both beyond the borders of our expectations and our country. Grady should adopt the IB program.

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