As 2017 draws closer, my dearest 2016 school life has officially come to an end. There are many things I want to tell you guys, but some should not be said and some are too longwinded, so for today I’ll focus on my main observation this one year (almost).
Stereotyping: General view of IB
From the very title, you can tell that (I realised) there are stereotypical views of the International Baccalaureate (at least here in Singapore) as compared to the Singaporean education – Junior College & Secondary School. Note, all that I’m about to quote or explain is 95% from what people TELL ME in my face and the 5% are the similar experiences other IB students shared with me. I’m not about to include any names and trust me, I’m too honest about these kind of things.
When I first expressed just the CONSIDERATION of doing IB, many were already against it. People have told me “IB is easy la” and most gave me looks of disappointment. OK, I wasn’t your straight A student and I was simply a brat who loves to do whatever she wants, working hard when I see value in it. Those looks were because I was considering DROPPING an acceptance into one of the top JCs in Singapore to enter IB. From this, I was already able to sense a type of hierarchy of education system between JC and IB. However, I was understanding. Understandable that JC is no child’s corner, it meant real business and eye bags from studying late into the night and early in the morning. In Singapore, its as plain as day to know that JC is tough and challenging in addition to the competition. But that was when I realised the little knowledge I had of IB.
To say I enrolled into IB thinking that it was tougher than JC would be a lie. I enrolled with the Singaporean thinking of IB and got a reality check. The scores were not solely based on the score you obtain during the actual IB examination, but also the Internal Assessment (included in ALL 6 subjects) and other criterias. And since I am taking the IBDP, we are required to fulfil 150hrs of CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) which is still alright – similar to CIP except that we need to fulfill it in order to be legible for the diploma. Also, we need to take Theory of Knowledge which includes an oral presentation similar to JC’s Project Work and another written paper, and an Extended Essay which is similar to JC’s Knowledge and Inquiry. At least a pass is required for our TOK and EE for us to be legible for the diploma. Anyways, I enrolled in IB with these naive thoughts implanted in me by the majority’s voice and it only took two days for me to realise how wrong I was.
The biggest problem I face is juggling all of the required components together with my academic tests. TOK and EE needs a higher level of critical thinking and lots of research so that takes up a lot of time and wrecked my brain quite a bit. Right now, one of those stereotypical people will be thinking “But that’s no problem because you learn lesser as compared to JC”. Well, they may be right because they did not take into consideration the fact that we have six subjects and each subject has an Internal Assessment that may come in the form of written tasks or experiments (for sciences). I can definitely promise you that IB challenges you to set a timetable and follow it. I probably sound like a whiny kid right now but I’m not exaggerating, the stress to get everything completed and edited by the deadline is real.
To be honest, this blogpost probably isn’t going to do anything about this situation and normally I would not do anything in this potentially hopeless situation. But what I absolutely couldn’t stand are fellow JC students telling an IB kid who has strived hard to do well and actually did well during the tests and EOYs “Its IB”, “you’re supposed to do well”, “so what” or something like that. Let me break it down: just because you assume IB to be easy, students who excel are nothing more than your mainstream students. Or are you implying that just because one is Singaporean, he/she will do exceptionally well in ALL education systems available internationally. My point is: the arrogance of such students and even adults is astounding, especially when those words only come from both current and ex students of top few JCs. Our brightest, most academically excelling students studying in JCs dismissing the effort of another just because they enrolled in a different educational system. When I first heard of fellow IB students receiving those comments, I was terribly upset and confused. I was upset that their efforts weren’t recognised. I was confused because I was unable to comprehend how some of Singapore’s students, renown as a global educational hub, could be so unfeeling and unwilling to understand a different education system. Is TRYING to understand another and his/her circumstances not part of education? Or has the top-tier competition in the Singapore holistic education killed off emphathy in some?
NOTE that I am NOT generalising ALL Singapore MOE students, I have close friends who share similar opinions. Please don’t get me wrong: there are students studying in Singaporean education who understand IB and do not speak of such stereotyping. I was just really cross and agitated when I first heard of such disturbing comments from some students and ADULTS. I guess its because they are criticising IB, whereby I am very much grateful to for opening my eyes to catch a glimpse of humanity and the world, and I really feel so much more value in learning ever since I decided on IB. If I had to be honest, the transition from a kid who was uninterested in textbooks, only loved to have fun to a kid who looks forward to reading the happenings around the world and myself daily, taking a greater involvement in my peers and my own studies, only happened within this year. In other words, IB changed my mentality and boosted my self-motivation. I have never ever had so much curiosity in learning about international news or going to school before. I am not imposing my views of a better education system or persuading you that IB is any better than any other available eduaction system, I am commenting that each one of us has a different preference and IB suited me more than what I have experienced studying under Singapore’s MOE. People are different and this does not give those stereotypical students the right to diss IB. To speak without understanding should be a sin. Effort should be recognised regardless of how minimal it is. I have read my sibling’s A level notes and yes, I admit JC does has a high level of difficulty. However, I sincerely hope this backstreet stereotyping disintegrates because IB also has a level of difficulty, it is NOT EASY. We need friends to get through the tough periods, just as any other student do.
In really simply terms, JC is HARD, IB is CHALLENGING. really.
This may seem like a biased view from some, but please understand and bear with me. Thanks for reading, do comment if there’s anything you’d like to share. 🙂
p.s sorry for the long hiatus, I was really busy with my schoolwork and my exams just ended not long ago so I managed to free up some free time to blog.