Let’s begin with the IB learner profiles in detail.
To introduce IB firstly, IB stands for International Baccalaureate. What is that, you may ask. Well, in all honesty, I’m sure you know, but here it is anyway.
“The International Baccalaureate is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland. This curriculum was carefully curated with a goal to create a rigorous framework in order to prepare the students for reality.
The IB offers four educational programmes; The IB Diploma Programme and the IB Career-related Programme for students aged 15 to 19, the IB Middle Years Programme for students aged 11 to 16, and the IB Primary Years Programme for children aged 3 to 12.”
This is the technical and factual part, of course. I’ll really tell you what IB is all about.
IB is a roller coaster of emotions. IB for you might feel like you’re stuck in quicksand. But for some people, it might be like sunshine and rainbows. The point is, it is different for different people.
However, it all boils down to the IB learner profiles – might sound technical again, but it is true, very true. Regardless of how you’ve experienced it, you will see yourself in situations where you learn and realize that this course prepares you for whatever may come and whatever situation you are in.
You may not realize that IB is consciously putting you on the spot for you to experience and possibly learn from your mistakes. Because, that’s what makes a person better.
In simpler words, it prepares you for reality.
Let’s start with listing out our 10 IB learner profiles:
- Open Minded
You are an inquirer. You are a curious brainchild. When? Almost throughout the two years you spend doing IBDP. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not necessarily an inquirer everytime you put your hand up in class and say “Sir/Ma’am, I have a doubt”. Unless of course, it’s something extra you’re willing to learn.
With IB’s Internal Assessments, they aim to nurture curiosity. To do the IA, you are required to look for and formulate a research question which then you will perform experiments based on. It’s no easy task, let me tell you that. I went through three physics RQ’s before I could finalize on my last one and the reason why it kept changing was because of my curious nature.
Everytime I read something about the topic, something new came up; something that could be a possible hindrance to my experiments. After about a 1000 hours of reading and researching, I found the one. My one true RQ. Oh well, no one wants to hear this now. Nevertheless, this is when you’ll find yourself to be an inquirer.
How much knowledge is too much knowledge? Now, you might be full because it is a lot. You’re learning college level courses and it’s not a walk in the park. However, you may want to think of it as a head start to college for two reasons: When you’re in college, you could go saying, “Pff, I already know this” or you could use the IB credits and be like “Pff, I’ve already done this class”.
While IB has its downsides, it kinda makes you look cool. However, this, among all the IB learner profiles, is mostly constricted within the four walls of your classroom because that’s where the learning happens. That’s where understanding happens.
Every student that embarks on the IBDP journey comes out a knowledgeable person because everything you learn is going to help you tomorrow. Get this! You even get to learn about how you know what you know and question the origins of what you already know.
Similar to being inquirers, this also revolves around the curiosity of a student. Except, when you think, it is either critical thinking or creative thinking. But also note that you’re not a thinker every time you think of a solution.
Certainly not when you think about how to change the school lunch’s menu. You’re more of a thinker when you analyze the situation, prioritize your responsibilities and come up with an ethical solution. For instance, you are a thinker when you’ve faced a hurdle in your experiment. Now, instead of giving up, the most logical thing to do is to fix it, right?
IB students are taught not to give up in the most compelling times, otherwise you’re just bound to…fail. You stop, rewind and start from first with a fresh eye to see where you’ve gone wrong and if you have, what you can do to fix it.
The answers are not always on google so you would have to do some creative thinking to arrive at a conclusion. It puts your skills to test and you’ll be surprised, because everyone gets back up on both their feet. Because, that’s what IB teaches you to do; be a thinker AND a doer.
“Communicators are basically just talkative people. You communicate – what’s there that’s more to that?” It’s definitely straightforward but throughout the course you learn to communicate in not one, but two languages.
It is a way to express yourself confidently, be it front of the class or with your teachers – you talk and listen effectively. That’s all what communication is about. It may seem like the most basic thing but it is quite significant. Normally communicating with your fellow peers is one side to it, but just imagine that with some extra vocabulary and possibly words from a foreign language.
While this is one part of sculpting you to be a communicator, it’s essentially how confidently you can talk and present in front of the class whether it is a presentation or a form of an assessment. You can call it public speaking, group discussions, etc but that is what makes you an effective speaker, listener – communicator.
This might be the most important one of all the learner profiles in IB. It’s all about being fair. IB teaches you to be original with your work and your content. It teaches you that it is the right thing to do to take responsibility for whatever it is that you did and face the consequences.
With the amount of stress an IB student goes through, there is a good chance when students tend to stop trying, they give up and they just resort to taking content directly from a website. This leads to plagiarism which IB strongly condemns. To avoid this and push the students’ limits to the maximum, it goes through a plagiarism detector. In addition, my teachers expected my IA’s similarity percentage to be below 5% because only then I could call it entirely mine. I wrote not one, but three research papers.
You should take pride in saying that. Now, I don’t have an incident where I had to face consequences because I haven’t done anything wrong. However, you should know that that’s the only fair thing to do if you ever find yourself in that position. There’s no point spinning up a lie because to cover that you end up spinning up a web of lies.
Being open minded can mean a lot of things. You could be open to trying out the opportunity, you could be open minded to other people’s opinions and perspectives or you could be open to see how it takes its course before you turn down something. This is how you grow.
If you are constricted to just one way of thinking, it will be difficult to understand how the world works because everyone has a different take on things. It is important to understand and be understanding. This could very well be about reading a mere book. IB has a list of prescribed books that need to be read over the course of two years.
The English assessment is all about analyzing and understanding the viewpoints of the protagonists and why they did what they did. To do this, you will need to read the books with an open mind. In our school, we read 1984, John Milton’s Poems and Persepolis. My, my were they a few books that needed a lot of “need to digest that for a second ” moments.
Both were about power and authority in two different scenarios. Nonetheless, only with an open mind was I able to really understand what the author tried to convey and analyze what they tried to create.
To be very honest, you don’t need IB to know that everyone needs to be caring with another. It is understood that people need to be kind, show empathy and respect.
However, you can show that you are indeed caring through your CAS activities, for one. You can talk about how you’ve volunteered for a beach clean-up for instance. It shows that you care for the environment as well and not just the people. This is one of many, many things you can do but don’t limit to being caring just for the activities! It’s something that everyone is and does on a daily basis. It’s quite self-explanatory so you should know by now.
Oh, this is the best one yet in all the IB learner profiles. IB really gives you the courage to do very risky things. For one, almost every student is late and they don’t abide by the deadlines. If you go a few months over the deadline, you know you’re putting yourself at risk yet you do it. That is who we IB students truly are. Even though we’re way past deadlines, we finish the work with good quality. In fact, I have a funny story for this one.
Apart from not having my EE experiment done until mid May with my submission in September, and not having a physics IA topic until March with my submission in October, I did a whole lot of juggling with my IB subjects itself. The first risk I took was to choose subjects that were irrelevant to each other. I chose Biology, Psychology and Business Management (English SL French AB and Math HL were a constant). I had a phase of realization about what I wanted to do for my career so I dropped that and took up Visual Arts.
Now 2 bonus risks were, one, that I took up the subject by underestimating the work and two, that it has never been taught before meaning they had to find a teacher for us. The first guy that came in didn’t know IB and the second one knew the basics. I took a risk and I dealt with it. I got a 6 without a teacher and merely depending on samples off the internet.
Simultaneously, I had multiple waves of realizations and completely changed my subject options to Physics, Chemistry and Visual Arts. This was 3-4 months into IBDP Year 1 meaning I had to catch up with portions. Imagine doing that with Physics. What I’m trying to say is that IB pushes you to take risks but it doesn’t only do that, it teaches you how to deal with them too. Side note: I survived IB if that’s what you’re wondering.
If there was one thing I was not, it was striking a balance between work and play in the beginning of IBDP Year 1. IB has a looooot of components; IA’s, EE’s TOK, CAS and your examinations. It can be a handful but it is done with intention. While you may feel it doesn’t necessarily strike a balance between work and play, it does – if you manage your time well.
There are two kinds of people, one kind is where they sort out an entire plan and stick to it to avoid working under pressure. And then, there is my kind where we sort out an entire plan and don’t stick to it. It was quite frustrating in the beginning but as time went by, we got the hang of managing it all whilst having our share of fun. In fact, CAS is a way to strike the balance with the rest of your work. IB has made it mandatory too because no one is going to have the motivation to work if there is just work.
Last but not least, being reflective. IB is usually an unforgettable experience for anyone that goes through it. There are at least 2 things you reflect on from your 2 year journey and learn.
IB students learn their strengths and weaknesses as a result of reflecting from their experiences. Each student goes through a number of incidents where it makes them realize, oh, I think I’m better off doing this; Oh, I think this would be better considering how it went last time”, etc. You may not know it but that’s when you’re being reflective.
And not necessarily from incidents involving other people but just yourself too. You’re being reflective when you understand where you went wrong and how you should improve in your IB exams.
After you finish your EE, you write a reflection form. You reflect on the experience you had doing your extended essay – the kind of struggles you faced, the kind of victories you had and how you felt overall about it. Being reflective is an important quality IB students have at the end of the two years. It is important to learn from past incidents, reflect on them and work better.
You have reached the end of the blog. You might have a clearer idea about the learner profiles because you see it everywhere; on their website, in the syllabus guide, in the subject guide and on the walls of your IB school. Now you know what they mean.
One last thing, be proud that you are an IB student.
You go through a lot and come out stronger.