The other day my son asked me a question…. Why do we call a honey bee by that name?” I replied with overweening confidence and with an air of finality that it is because it collects honey. Pat came the next question… “Why do we call a butterfly by that name?” This time I was stumped!
This incident bears testimony to the kind of inquisitive minds that children today are born with. We would be doing grave injustice to them if we were to put them through a curriculum that stifles this curiosity which is so imperative to research, discovery and culmination of all learning – invention. It is a sad commentary on our so called “time-tested” methods of education, that we have hardly had Nobel Prize winners. That we pride ourselves on being the “heroes of zeroes” seems to be a dubious distinction.
Any parent who has run the gauntlet of those never-ending questions from a young toddler would swear by the fact, somewhere along the way the “formal education” that a child is put through ends up writing an epitaph on this natural inquisitive mind that a child is gifted with. The International Baccalaureate Organisation, a non-profit educational organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, founded the IB Programme to overcome this pitfall. The focus in this program is on “how” and “why” rather than “what”. It is meticulously designed to foster creativity and build the global skills that today’s young globe-trotters need. Though it has its headquarters in Switzerland, the IBO is an international organisation, not associated with any particular country and free of national or political intervention. This course stands out as one that steers clear of political incursions.
In today’s globalised workplace, we operate on a global platform, making the cultivation of global mindedness and intercultural understanding indispensable. We have to carefully instil intercultural respect in the minds of young learners bearing in mind the fact that today’s students will be tomorrow’s corporate honchos shaking hands or perhaps bowing to the leaders from many countries across the world. A parochial education that gives a laundry list of concepts to be merely committed to memory, limiting the child’s perspective to the national frontiers, will no longer suffice.
As the diagram above shows, IB focuses on breadth and depth of knowledge and takes learning outside the classrooms. Learning is more application-oriented leading to the creation of individuals who are highly employable. It bears reiteration that if we do not ivory-tower scientists or arm-chair theorists, IB is the way out.