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“The greatest gift is not being afraid to question.”

Ruby Dee

All IB programs aim to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. To advance this goal, the IB has outlined some of the specific traits that its unique approach aspires to cultivate in students. A collection of 10 characteristics, the IB Learner Profile illustrates the kind of successful people and citizens that define the IB method of education

IB Learner Profile

Source: Victoria Walters via Slideshare

To better understand why these traits matter and how they are developed in the classroom and through experiential learning opportunities like CAS, we will look at each one individually—beginning with Inquiry

What does it mean to be an inquirer? 

As outlined by the IB: Inquirers are encouraged to develop their natural curiosity. Students acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. Through this approach, they come to actively enjoy acquiring knowledge, a passion that they can carry forward throughout their lives. They tackle the opportunity to learn with curiosity and enthusiasm. 

A big part of becoming an impactful inquirer is learning to ask the right kind of questions and seeking answers in a meaningful way. The IB framework encourages students to dive deep into the matter they are investigating and explore all levels of inquiry. 

What are the different levels of inquiry?

Level 1: The first level involves obtaining basic information that is concrete and definite. This is when students define, describe, list, name, and recall. 

Level 2: Going on step further, students begin to seek new information based on their initial findings. They make decisions, analyze, compare, group, and summarize. 

Level 3: This is where the magic happens. By reflecting on all that has been discovered, students begin creating new ideas and allowing for multiple answers simultaneously. They judge, compose, and critique. 

As genuine inquirers, students are prompted to seek out ways that they can make an impact with the knowledge they have accumulated. 

How does the IB nurture inquirers?

The IB program facilitates the development of this mindset using a variety of means. Through dynamic cycles of inquiry, action, and reflection, students learn to approach their subject of interest from multiple perspectives. They receive support from their teachers and classmates to exhibit persistence and not give up easily when seeking answers. The IB curriculum encourages a genuine appreciation for learning for its own sake and shows students the value of conducting independent research for the sole purpose of expanding one’s worldview. 

What role does CAS play?

All CAS projects are built on a foundation of inquiry. The first stage of any CAS experience will be inquiry-based and involve gathering authentic information about an issue or a community in need. During this process, students are encouraged to ask questions, be observant, and show curiosity. Students learn that it is ok to have their initial assumptions challenged and to allow their research to lead them to unexpected places. As the opening quote from poet, journalist, and civil rights activist Ruby Dee illustrates, it is through having the bravery to ask tough questions that a person realizes their full potential and can create real change in the world.

Title Photo Credits: Emily Morter via Unsplash