IB curriculum changes, as do students’ lives

The picture shows numerous editions of IB Math textbooks as the curriculum has changed over the years and continues to.

Photographer: Zuhoor A.

The picture shows numerous editions of IB Math textbooks as the curriculum has changed over the years and continues to.

Zuhoor A., Reporter

The International Baccalaureate program, commonly abbreviated as IB, has made some notable changes to the types of courses they offer and the content in them for the 2020-2021 school year. This means the changes affect primarily this year’s 11th graders.

Both the IB Language and Literature and the IB Literature courses now have a more common syllabus structure that focuses on teaching conceptual understanding in both courses. IB Math has split into two sections: (1) Analysis and Approaches, which explores abstract mathematical ideas, and (2) Applications and Interpretation, which is shaped into a more practical, real-life scenario-based application.  The previously offered IB math classes were split into three levels and sections: the lowest level of difficulty, IB Math studies; the standard-level IB Math SL; and the most difficult and rigorous course, IB Math HL.

Will students benefit from the IB’s curriculum changes?

In response to the IB math changes, Ms. Raka Singhal, a former IB maths teacher at Qatar Academy, stated that “It wouldn’t hurt the students because I think it’s better if they learn a little bit more, but a change is hard as it means new books, new syllabus, new lesson plans…  The cynical view is that they have to change because then all the schools need to buy new books, and people have to be trained, so it’s another way to make more money.”

Singhal shares a similar opinion with Ms. Caroline Murphy, an IB math teacher at ASD, regarding the benefits of this change. Murphy states that “changes are based on feedback that the IB gets from teachers and students so I have no doubt it will benefit them. Some of the change they’ve made is allowing more time for us to teach the concepts and giving students a better chance of really understanding the concepts rather than preparing for a test.”

Are students also victims to the IB’s curriculum change?

Although this may be reassuring, many students have been left confused as to what this will mean for the future of the kids in the new IB system. According to a blog on the website for ManageBac, an IB planning, assessment, and reporting platform, “Universities are currently in the process of reassessing their entry requirements and criteria in the wake of these proposed curriculum reforms.” However, many students still wonder whether the subject choices they make impact the way universities may asses their application.

In the upcoming year, for the class of 2022, the IB is planning to remove Paper 3 for IB Economics HL, making it less math-heavy, as well as removing a section called Theory of the Firm. ASD IB Economics teacher Mr. Warren Franklin, states that students will be “at a loss” as they will lack some foundations of economics as both the Paper 3 math calculations and the Theory of the Firm are important aspects of it. However, other teachers share the idea that the changes may also have some benefits, as they were brought up in part due to recommendations from IB teachers and students.