With the school’s decision to change its curriculum and adapt the IB Diploma Programme (DP), came several questions, concerns, and controversies. Now, Woodstock’s first IB batch, the Class of 2021, has already started their second semester in the DP. Even after an entire semester, the anxiety and angst among teachers and students seem only to be increasing. As the Class of 2022 starts its IB journey, the school is faced with many new challenges.
Mrs. Mou Maiti, the Academic Coordinator, pointed out that results from last semester are “not bad.” As the first DP batch, she believes that the Class of 2021 has “risen to the occasion” and their achievements from the past six months affirm that the school’s decision to shift to the DP was the right one. However, after completing the semester, some students decided to drop the DP and shift to the Courses programme offered by IB.
The Diploma requires IB students to take six subjects from six different fields, as well as fulfill the three core elements: CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service), ToK (Theory of Knowledge), and the Extended Essay, a research paper; the Courses programme, on the other hand, is flexible in the number of courses that a student can take and does not require them to fulfill any core element requirements.
Ms. Maiti believes that the main cause for students to shift from the Diploma to the Courses programme was that some students could not cope with the rigors of the curriculum and struggled with time management. Some students, on the other hand, dropped the DP because they have “stronger commitments to things outside academics.”
Aaliya Joanna, Class of 2021, decided to not pursue the DP because she believes that “it is not the right fit for [her].” Joanna, who wants to study medicine in India, needs to take a set of subjects that are not offered together by the IB.
Although the IB Courses programme offers the same subjects as the DP, due to its less challenging nature, it is not as highly regarded.
Many Juniors also believe that switching to Courses might lower their stress levels and help them focus on college applications and standardized tests such as the SATs, and ACTs, which many of them will be taking in the coming months.
However, the problems are not just limited to time management or course selection. Juniors might have to come back a week early from winter break during January 2021 to take their preliminary exams, which are required by the IB. The school has stated that the reason for this is the unavailability of both teachers and space while school is in session.
The Class of 2022, who have just chosen their courses for next year, as they step into grade 11, are just as anxious and have just as many questions. In Spring 2019, when the Class of 2021 chose their subjects, they were promised that they would get their choice of subjects. However, at the start of the new school year, as the school’s transition to IB became the reality, students were disappointed to find out that they might not be able to study the subjects they wanted to. The school could not fit every student’s first choice of subjects into the timetable because of the lack of teachers as well as time slots. Many students had to change their subject choices to make it fit into the school’s timetable.
To avoid something similar from happening this year, the school started the process of course selection relatively early this year.
“We created a line grid of the subjects available and communicated that to the students before,” Ms. Maiti said. The students can choose subjects that fall in the same line and fit together in the timetable. This, however, still does not give students the complete freedom to choose the subjects they want to, and a few students have already voiced their concerns about this, Ms. Maiti said.
In their efforts to cope with all the problems put forward by both students and parents, the school has stated that next year will be much smoother for students. From next year onwards, all the teachers will be focused on teaching IB classes since the school will not be offering any more AP courses. Hence, there will be more teachers available for each subject and will be able to give each student more time and attention. However, students are concerned that a major percentage of the staff will not be coming back next year, including several DP teachers.
Janvi Poddar is the Editor-in-chief of The Woodstocker
Edited by Archita Aggarwal
Photo courtesy of Mr. Will Ferguson