Though international schools in Singapore use a variety of innovative curriculums and educational frameworks, proven systems such as the popular International Baccalaureate Programme (also known as the IB Programme) remain the most sought-after, thanks to their holistic approach to pre-university education.
Among the different competing pedagogical systems used by Singapore-based international schools, the International Baccalaureate Programme is generally considered to be the most worldly, forward-looking, and comprehensive.
This is no simple feat given that Singapore’s mainstream school system is widely acknowledged to be one of the very best in the world. Expatriate families who can send their children to any school they want will often choose IB schools simply because they offer a proven track record of producing highly capable and adaptable graduates.
Fortunately, if you’re interested in the holistic education offered by the International Baccalaureate, Singapore has several IB-approved schools to choose from.
Here’s how these IB international schools are able to mould children into well-rounded individuals:
1) The International Baccalaureate Programme Emphasizes “Systems Thinking”
The International Baccalaureate Programme heavily emphasizes an educational approach that examines entire systems rather than discrete components. This is in stark contrast with many competing systems that only emphasize the drilling down of facts and figures.
This focus on teaching students to always look at the bigger picture helps ingrain an appreciation for the role of entire systems in different everyday phenomena, preventing students from developing myopic ways of thinking.
2) Students in IB Schools Are Taught to Take the Initiative
Schools adopting traditional teaching methods often simply teach students what to think, which usually makes it difficult for them to become well-rounded and self-actualized. In IB schools, students are, instead, taught to take the lead in their own education and to make decisions that help them satisfy their own curiosity.
While there will always be subjects where students need more guidance, in IB schools, students are almost certainly going to be taught how to arrive at the answers themselves.
3) Critical Thinking Is a Core Component of IB Education
Apart from taking the lead in their own education, students in IB schools are taught how to think logically and how to examine the nature of knowledge. Instead of simply taking all statements as factual, they are taught to examine the contexts behind them to determine for themselves what the truth is.
As the world’s body of knowledge continues to become more complex, the ability to think critically and identify the quality of information will become even more important for ensuring not just a student’s holistic growth but also their ability to thrive in the real world.
4) The IB’s Cross-Cultural Approach Creates Well-Rounded Individuals
Exposure to diverse cultures during one’s formative years can help improve one’s empathy and ability to navigate different social contexts. These capabilities, in turn, empower students by allowing them to consider the benefits of systems and ways of living other than the one they were brought up with.
Though Singapore already offers an incredibly rich and diverse environment for children, sending them to an IB school should further enhance their cultural flexibility.
5) The International Baccalaureate Programme Teaches Important Soft Skills
Children need more than a mastery of technical skills to be educated. They also need adequate education in soft skills to help them become fully actualized individuals.
The teaching of soft skills such as empathy, communicativeness, critical thinking, and even entrepreneurship is vital to helping children succeed within the various human systems they will encounter throughout their lives.
The teaching of soft skills is especially important considering the extremely fast pace of technological advancement today.
Individuals who are merely proficient in technical skills may experience uncomfortable transitions should their skills become obsolete due to new technologies. In contrast, holistically educated individuals with a good mix of soft skills are likely to overcome any challenge they face in the future.
6) It Emphasizes Personal Growth Over Academic Achievement
While IB schools produce much more than their fair share of high-achieving students, this is not due to more rigorous instruction in academics but due to these schools’ emphasis on helping each student realize their true potential.
The International Baccalaureate Programme does not simply focus on teaching students various subjects. Instead, it is more concerned with building up the personal capacity of students so that they can succeed in their academics through their own efforts.
Not surprisingly, the tendency of IB schools to develop learners’ real abilities rather than their skills at answering tests has been associated with better adaptability and success in university and professional settings.
The International Baccalaureate Programme’s unique approach to education prioritizes the personal and intellectual growth of students at almost every turn, ensuring that they not only succeed in their academics but in other areas of life as well. The emphasis on comprehensive improvement allows for more holistic growth that continues to benefit students for the remainder of their lives.
Notably, the IB’s holistic approach represents a major deviation from most common teaching systems that seek to mould students to fit into specific national or ideological goals. Given this, IB schools may be the best option for parents who want their children to succeed in life on their own terms.