The core of the programme model
All Diploma Programme students participate in the three elements that make up the core of the programme model. Reflection on all these elements is a principle that lies at the heart of the thinking behind the Diploma Programme.
The theory of knowledge course encourages students to think about the nature of knowledge, to reflect on the process of learning in all the subjects they study as part of their Diploma Programme course, and to make connections across them. The extended essay, a substantial piece of writing of up to 4,000 words, enables students to investigate a topic of special interest that they have chosen themselves. It also encourages them to develop the skills of independent research that will be expected at university. Creativity, action, service (CAS) involves students in experiential learning through a range of artistic, sporting, physical and service activities.
Coherence in the core
The three elements of the programme model core (TOK, CAS and the extended essay) were introduced by the original curriculum designers of the Diploma Programme as a way to educate the whole person. The core consists of three separate elements, but links and relationships are evident between them even if these links have not previously been clearly articulated.
Strongly committed to the principle of developing the whole person, the IB believes that this is best achieved by identifying and developing clearer and more explicit aims for and relationships between TOK, CAS and the extended essay. Specifically, the IB believes a coherent view of the core will:
- support the interconnectedness of learning
- support concurrency of learning
- support the IB continuum of education and the learner profile
- support a broader view of the subject disciplines.
Coherence does not mean similarity. Coherence in this context refers to the three elements of the core complementing each other and working together to achieve common aims. All three elements of the core should be grounded in three coherent aims:
- to support, and be supported by, the academic disciplines
- to foster international-mindedness
- to develop self-awareness and a sense of identity.
Supporting, and being supported by, the academic disciplines
The core is seen as the heart of the Diploma Programme. The academic disciplines, while separate to the core, are nonetheless linked to it. The core relies on the disciplines to provide enrichment, and individual subjects should be nourished by the core. Teachers in each of the three elements of the core need to think about, and plan carefully, how TOK, CAS and the extended essay can feed into a deeper understanding of the subject matter studied by Diploma Programme students. This might include, for example:
- transferring the critical thinking process developed in TOK to the study of academic disciplines
- developing service learning opportunities in CAS that will build on a student’s existing subject knowledge and contribute to the construction of new and deeper knowledge in that subject area
- exploring a topic or issue of interest which has global significance in an extended essay through one or more disciplinary lenses.
The core has a responsibility to foster and nurture international-mindedness, with the ultimate goal of developing responsible global citizens. To a large extent, the core should be driven by the IB’s mission “to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect” and “encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right” (IB mission statement).
To this end, the core should encourage an exploration of issues of global significance and in so doing allow students to examine links between the local and the global. It should encourage students to consider the contexts and views of others, and should ensure that the principles and values developed by students are reflected upon throughout their lifetime. This might include, for example:
- emphasizing different cultural perspectives in TOK and how different cultural traditions have contributed to our current constructions of knowledge
- considering a service project that reflects an issue of global significance, but is explored from a local perspective
- encouraging students to write a world studies extended essay—an interdisciplinary extended essay on a global theme.
The core should strive to make a difference to the lives of students. It should provide opportunities for students to think about their own values and actions, to understand their place in the world, and to shape their identity. This might include, for example:
- providing opportunities in TOK for students to have conversations with others from different backgrounds and with different viewpoints, thereby challenging their own values
- encouraging students in CAS to evaluate their commitment to helping those in need and exploring the notion of advocacy
- asking students to reflect on the process of writing the extended essay and in so doing identifying areas of strength and areas for development.
Taken from The IB Theory of Knowledge Guide Copyright – IBO
The Core at BSJ
At BSJ we take a coherent view of the Core. Students are grouped into classes with one Core facilitator who supports students in developed their knowledge and skills in TOK, the generic skills required by the Extended Essay and acts as CAS advisor. Furthermore the Core facilitator helps students to develop their Approaches To Learning and delivers the PSHE curriculum.