How do I hate IB? Let me Count the Ways
By Matthew F., Port Moody Secondary, Port Moody, BC
The International Baccalaureate Programme is the program everyone loves to hate. It's either too hard, or too time consuming, or [insert complaint here]. Personally, I'm on the opposite side of the fence. I think that as far as offering a superior academic program, the IB Diploma Programme is nonpareil. It is both comprehensive and challenging. I am proud to be an IB student, and I recommend it to anyone with the talent and the inclination necessary for it.
That being said, the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) is not immune from my wrath. They conspire to make an already difficult program more difficult by keeping students and teachers alike in the dark. I will relate to you a relatively boring anecdote about how this hatred began. You see, I took Math HL in 2002-2003 – my Grade 11 year. Being one of those strange students who enjoy mathematics, I wanted to take another math course my Grade 12 year, rather than let my math skills stagnate. Through the IB website, I discovered the existence of Further Mathematics SL, a course which seemed to fit the bill for my math needs. However, when I tried to find out more about this course, I ran into a brick wall. It seems the IBO refuses to even allow prospective students to see the syllabus for a given course. I was forced to ask a friend to find it for me. I finally found the syllabus, talked to the IB coordinator about taking the course, and everything progressed from there. However, the difficulty of what should have been a simple task was ridiculous. If I were to do this for the Advanced Placement (AP) program, this would be simple.
In fact, the AP provides past exams for free on their website. On the other hand, the IBO makes you pay, or beg your teachers/IB coordinator. Want to find out your component marks for IB courses you've already taken? Sorry. You'll have to see your IB coordinator for that, and add to his already ridiculous workload.
Furthermore, you also do not always see the criterion you are graded against. For example, the two classes of students who took IB Chemistry SL in 2002-2003 were graded down 56% on their lab component because they did not know what criteria they were being graded against. I received 7 on the exam and a 2 on the lab work. There's something wrong there, and it totally undermines the two years of hard work I put into that course.
I would go as far as to say that although the IB Programme is unquestionably superior, the IBO seems to be more concerned about making money than about the best interests of their students. If they would just be more open about the program, they could eliminate many of the headaches faced by IB students around the world. Considering that they receive in excess of $150 CDN per exam, as well as exorbitant registration fees, you would think that they could provide a free .PDF detailing their syllabi. Furthermore, would it be so onerous to mail out exam scores instead of having an online-only database which didn't even work properly in July 2003 and caused me unnecessary hours of agony?
Unfortunately, the IB program is so good that they really don't need to change – they have no competitors, really. So, there remains hope for progress, but it isn't likely. Until that happy day comes, class upon class of Port Moody IB Students will have to endure the idiocy of the IB bureaucracy.
Originally published in the Port Moody Secondary Student Newspaper "BlueShift"
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