Issue 1.1 Monday, April 7, 2003

Is the IB Program Worth the Trouble?
by Daniel PH Teed

That which is called the IB Program, the domain of the Greek-grade brains who slave away at essays and laboratory experimentation, is a monstrous thing which, though difficult, gives to those who tread the trail a diploma. This painfully obtained piece of paper is worth its weight in gold in the educational world. But what about those who subject themselves to the floggings of individual courses without promise of the Holy Diploma? Why do they do it? Mostly big brains without enough common sense to use them properly. I am enlisted in three IB courses, all higher level, all delightfully stressful, and the question I need to ask myself is: Why am I doing this to myself? What is in it for me? I decided to find and weigh the pros versus the cons of being in a partial IB program. Firstly, a little background on this elusive monstrosity.

The International Baccalaureate Program is a system of education with HQ located in a Swiss shanty. Not widely recognized in North America, itís really more of a European thing, and much like bizarre clothes and hygiene habits of that continent, it is met with mixed feeling over here. Some people think it is a Godsend and treat itís curriculum much like a Holy Text. Others, including most people, ignore it at best and burst into fits of laughter at worst. Weíll review what I tell myself when Iím awake at three in the morning writing an essay (and again at four a.m. when I wake up to finish the essay). I say ďWeíre doing this because it will give us benefits in the future.Ē Iíve never bothered telling myself what those benefits are, just vaguely mentioned that it has to do with university.

What those things are exactly, I canít say. Iíve never found a definite answer, just general references to ďadvanced standingĒ. I donít know what that is or how to get it, but it sounds very nice. My understanding of it is that it is, in simple terms, a course done. A high school course with a sixty dollar exam is worth a university credit, which costs substantially more than sixty bucks. Also, they, being the universities, generally accept that the courses using an IB curriculum are much harder than ordinary course selections. Nice universities therefore feel that it is fitting to add a few percentage points to your grade, either in individual courses or to your average, depending on these ďhigher levelĒ courses. I think that sounds very nice, because money is nice, and in university terms, grades equal money.

But what about the cons? I wonít go into my personal life, Iíll just say that it is stressful. IB has the nasty habit of desiring complete chronological submission. Basically, no time for anything but school. Itís not easy being green, or an IB student, and it doesnít help that I am a Procastinatus professionalus (a sampling of IB Biology there). The work-load is heavy in nature, and the makers of the curriculum share the opinion that we arenít learning if we donít compromise the health of our spines. The text books are generally related to the knowledge they contain, for example, the biology textbook is suitable for the smashing of small animals, or large ones if thrown hard enough. Also the fact that the course costs sixty dollars to be acknowledged as anything real is a bit of a deterrent, but just remember the university thing. And even if the luckless IB student doesnít achieve certificate status and Mr. University doesnít care that she tried really hard, the student still has the bonus of knowledge. Since the courses are basically first year university courses in high-school form, the student will ace her first year.

And so, I leave the IB program to your opinions, I take the Canadian stance and allow you to tear it apart without my help. La Programme de BI, cíest comme-ci, comme Áa. Itís both a blessing and a hindrance.