Conference Special 50years.ibo.org | @iborganization
Is Singapore the best place to get an education?
What we can learn from the country that tops the international league tables
Editor’s letter The future of education lies in creative and innovative teaching and learning, as IB World Schools demonstrate in this issue. Educators are adapting their teaching practice to foster entrepreneurial and leadership skills, while injecting more fun into lessons. Students in the US are experimenting with ideas that have the potential to change the world (page 8). And in Malaysia, students are using technology to create interactive experiences that encourage inquiry and discovery (page 10). But is it possible to develop a curriculum that nurtures creativity, while maintaining top results? This is a key question for Singapore, as keynote speaker Pak Tee Ng notes on page 14. Despite the country’s continued success in education, there is an argument that Singapore places too much emphasis on academic learning. This brings its own challenges, from educational inequality to a negative impact on student wellbeing, as we discuss on page 4.
his year’s theme: Shaping the Future brings together IB educators from all over the world. The conference provides an ideal professional development opportunity for educational leaders, decision makers and practitioners from schools, universities and governments to share best practice. Motivated by the IB’s mission, the conference fosters partnership and participation, providing a forum for discussions on educational quality, pedagogical leadership and international mindedness. Over the next three days, you will discover new ideas to further develop your IB programme, learn from IB practitioners, reflect on your practice and hopefully leave with inspiration and renewed energy to bring back to your school.
Sophie-Marie Odum, Editor Follow me on Twitter: @Sophie_Marie_O
IB World Editor Sophie-Marie Odum IB Editors Jane Wynn, Freddie Oomkens Managing Editor Stephanie Wilkinson Production Editor Ilana Harris Designer Sandra Marques Picture Editor Dominique Campbell Reproduction Haymarket Pre-press Printed by Stephens & George
Each year, the IB hosts several conferences. The next IB Global Conference will take place in July 2018 in San Diego. For more information on upcoming events, or to read previous IB World Conference Special magazines, please visit ibo.org/en/news/ib-world/
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45 COVER STORY What Singapore can teach us about topping the global education rankings 67 50TH ANNIVERSARY Celebrating the work of the IB Educator Network in this landmark year
89 SERVICE LEARNING Inspiring students showcase their tech creations
1011 COVER PHOTO: TOM WANG/123RF PHOTOS: SIMON STANMORE; VARIAL CÉDRIC HOUIN; ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Welcome to The IB Global Conference, Singapore, 2018
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1011 FUTURE OF EDUCATION How VR and AR are transforming classroom learning 1214 MEET THE SPEAKERS Our keynote speakers on artifical intelligence, educating rural communities and paying it forward
How Singapore is leading the way in education ingapore may be small, but it has overtaken much larger countries in the world to rank as number one in education. It came first in the latest OECD Programme for International Student
Assessment (PISA) tests – which assess reading, mathematics and science – and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. The country focuses heavily on education as it is seen as a crucial means for
Head teachers rotate between schools every six to seven years, too. This allows them to be challenged by different school environments at regular intervals, instead of becoming stagnant. “More schools also benefit from being exposed to a fresh set of ideas,” says Tan. “Singapore is a small, but highly urbanized country, and that’s why it’s easy for the Ministry of Education to implement policies that maintain a high quality, compared to many larger countries.”
national budget each year and it’s been that way for more than 50 years.” Investment in teachers Much of this money is spent on teachers’ professional development. This helps raise the status of teaching. Trainees receive full teacher salaries and employee benefits, which attracts the best graduates. In addition, all teachers are trained at the National Institute of Education – a consistent approach that ensures quality control.
PHOTO: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Dr Jason Tan reveals the secrets behind the country’s successful school system
economic competitiveness and social cohesion; and it invests heavily in its teachers. “In isolation, these factors are not that unique to Singapore,” says Dr Jason Tan Eng Thye, Associate Professor of Policy and Leadership Studies at the National Institute of Education, in Singapore. “However, what is so unusual about Singapore is the amount the government has invested in education at all levels – primary, secondary and post secondary,” adds Tan. “Education is the second largest item in the
Parental involvement Parents also play a crucial role. “All schools regularly engage with parents – through parent sessions or workshops – to help them better understand the curriculum. Every teacher has to be available to their students’ parents, whether it’s on email or WhatsApp, for example,” says Tan. But, the amount of time and resources that parents spend helping their children can lead to wide disparities, he adds. Many advantaged families supplement the education system with private tuition and other programmes. The Ministry of Education has put measures in place to address these concerns, such as legislation to protect students with 5
additional learning needs; secondary schools can no longer use ‘general academic ability’ as an admission criterion; and secondary schools can reserve up to 20 per cent of their places for students with non-academic talents. Too much pressure? Singapore’s international success in tests is also due to the country’s cultural mindset that academic excellence is fundamental to future success. But there have been concerns that too much emphasis is placed on academic subjects and not enough on social emotional learning (SEL). This can lead to stressed-out children who are eager to succeed. The Ministry of Education introduced ‘21st Century Competencies’ to address this, which includes SEL initiatives and cross-cultural understanding activities. It wants to make sure that schools develop these competencies in lessons. “But, because of the overriding importance of examination success, in terms of post-secondary opportunities, jobs and income levels, the heavy focus on academia remains a problem,” says Tan. “It’s an ongoing debate for the country. Singapore hasn’t yet achieved that optimum balance.”
SUPPORTING SCHOOLS EVERY STEP OF THE WAY As part of the IB’s 50th anniversary celebrations this year, it is honouring the IB Educator Network – a peer-to-peer model of professional development
IBEN IN NUMBERS
of topics specific to IB programmes. They also form school visit teams to help with the authorization and evaluation process. During two-day verification visits, members observe learning spaces and speak with all stakeholders, then send an evidence-based report – checked by the IB. This helps schools in setting up a five-year action plan before the next verification visit. An IBEN consultant is also allocated to schools, offering remote support as they work towards authorization.
IBEN members currently living in 113 countries. They all participate in face-to-face activities
20,000 Estimated number of IBEN examiners who complete the IB’s marking
Servet Altan, MYP Coordinator at Özel Bilkent Middle School, Turkey, and PYP Workshop Leader “The best thing about IBEN is learning from other passionate IB educators from all around the world. “Since I have become an IBEN member, I have discovered new ways to collaborate with other international educators and that helped me expand my knowledge about the IB. “Collaboration is very important for educators in
IBEN workshops completed in 2017. Over 10,000 IBEN activities were completed overall
PHOTOS: 123RF; SHUTTERSTOCK
n the pursuit of academic excellence, educators need support from those who truly understand the rigours of teaching the IB. That’s why the IB Educator Network (IBEN) – made up of IB educators from around the world – was set up back in 2010. It offers professional development, mentoring and support, as well as networking opportunities. IBEN members do a variety of activities that advance the mission of the IB. They run workshops for teachers on a range
helping them feel supported at all times. Learning from others has helped me see how excellence in education is possible through the best teaching practices. “Every time I am assigned a role and experience a new IBEN event, I am really inspired to see so many well-grounded ideas in action. “IBEN has changed my perspective towards education and helped me create a unique culture that fits my school.”
The first cohort of IB teachers as a school visit team began as a pilot in the US
Hege Myhre, Head of School, Kongsberg International School, Norway, and School Visit Team Leader “IBEN has a worldwide collaborative approach, which fosters the feeling of helping each other to create something great. Compared to other supervision or approval systems, I find IBEN focuses on support and growth rather than inspection and pointing out mistakes.
The year the IBEN department was formally established
“Since becoming involved with the network, I have gained a wealth of knowledge from different regions, schools, educators, parents and students – all broadening my understanding of the complexity of education. “Being an IBEN member also pushes me to stay up-to-date with not only IB documentation, but also current educational research, scrutinizing the principles from a variety of practices. It’s a pleasure to work with other highly professional educators.” Kathy Saville, College Teaching and Learning Leader at Wesley College Melbourne, Australia, and an IBEN Lead Educator “Working with IBEN affirms your practice and inspires you with new ideas. I have gained lifelong friends, a greater appreciation of the diversity of schools, a sense of self-worth and an ongoing affirmation of what I have to offer. There’s nothing better than seeing a teacher’s ‘aha’ moment in a workshop and to know that you are transforming their practice.”
THE YOUNG INVENTORS OF TOMORROW Matthew Moran, speaker at the IB Heads World Conference, talks about nurturing entrepreneurship
he next Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs could come from Dwight School, in New York, US, thanks to Spark Tank. This incubator programme nurtures students’ entrepreneurial, innovation and leadership skills beyond the classroom, and has been running for three years. They can develop and launch their inventions in the real world. But students don’t just think about how they can start a business. Instead, they make products that can help others.
Spark of genius Creativity is not limited to Spark Tank at Dwight School – Primary Years Programme (PYP) students can take part in a Google-inspired Genius Hour whereby they pursue a passion project. Middle Years Programme (MYP)
students work on developing a business plan and learn about entrepreneurship. “Our school’s motto is, ‘Igniting the spark of genius in every child’, and this is integrated into everything we do,” says Matthew Moran (left), Director of Technology and Innovation at Dwight School. “We wanted to create an opportunity for students to pursue their innovative ideas and make a place in the school where the curriculum isn’t set by the teacher, but is instead based on the personal interest of the student. “Spark Tank is about creating a space where students know that they won’t need to wait until they graduate to begin working on their big ideas that can potentially change the world.” Here are some examples of innovative service learning at Spark Tank…
MYP student Stephane Hatgis-Kessell with his invention
PHOTOS: MIKE SHEEHAN; IAN WILSON
The LTCCS translates speech into text
he instead created a smoke filter, which prevents second-hand smoke being inhaled by non-smokers. Daniil says: “Spark Tank has allowed me to develop both a number of my projects and the set of skills involved in presenting my ideas to others. This has been incredibly useful.”
MYP student Stephane HatgisKessell created an affordable robotic prosthetic hand called The Hephaestus Hand, using a 3D printer. It is designed to help people with lower-arm amputations, particularly those in war-torn and developing countries, who can’t afford them. “I learned to better manage a budget and improved my robotics and programming knowledge beyond what I thought was possible,” says Stephane. “I definitely would not have been pushed to get my project to where it is now without Spark Tank. There is a community of innovation here.”
Live-Time Closed Captioning System (LTCCS) IB Diploma Programme (DP) graduate Daniil Frants was inspired by Google Glass to create a product for the hearing impaired. The LTCCS is an on-head wearable display, which translates speech into text in real time. However, as it was too expensive to roll out commercially,
The Hephaestus Hand
DP graduate Calvin Solomon created the official school app, OurDwight. It is now available on the App Store and features interactive content, including daily bulletins, school sports news, photos, videos and social media. Calvin says: “OurDwight exists for one purpose: to foster the ever evolving community that is Dwight.”
The DP is a very timedemanding period for students, which is why DP students Madalena Teles and Michelle Rhee (right) created a time management app to help their classmates. Originally, the students wanted to create an app to help teenagers manage their reliance on technology by creating metrics on their devices to show patterns of use. However, due to technical limitations they changed their idea to a time management app,
which is based on users’ habits. It is now available on the App Store, helping students everywhere. Madalena says: “Spark Tank helped me to get my ideas out there and use my imagination to make the world a better place.”
FUTURE OF EDUCATION
A Merge Cube allows students to turn a beating heart around in their hand
and ‘wow’ their audiences. At my school – IGB International School, Malaysia – we are exploring both consumption and creation uses of VR and AR. Middle Years Programme (MYP) students are using Google Expeditions to explore different environments and the effect people Students create their own interactive experiences have on them. AR at IGB International School apps in language classes encourage students to use their skills and describe what they see. Students are also creating AR experiences to help visitors and new students find their way something we could rarely around the school. do in real life. Such Our youngest students technology allows teachers use a ‘Merge Cube’ to do new things. (below). This allows them Technology needn’t be to hold virtual images in expensive. A Google their hands. They can see Cardboard headset can be and explore inside a skull purchased for under US$5. or turn a beating heart Students can also use their around in their hand – phones, or school iPads or iPods. We have also been exploring ways they can use their school laptops to create 360-degree movies. It is important to find low-cost alternatives that allow everyone to access the incredible learning that happens when we immerse students in a 3D world. Educators need to be able to use such tools to
“Students can explore ancient ruins from the comfort of the classroom”
AWHOLE NEW WORLD
AR and VR open up innovative learning experiences to students, says Technology Integrator Geoffrey Derry
magine guiding students under the Pacific Ocean, or through the International Space Station or even inside the human body as part of your lesson? Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) create experiences that allow students to explore their worlds in ways we
could never have thought possible five years ago. AR is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time, whereas VR creates a totally artificial environment. Students (and teachers) can ride a rollercoaster or explore ancient ruins from the comfort of the classroom. 10
There are also experiences that allow the viewer to build empathy and discover what it is like to be in a refugee camp or part of a concert, for example. It’s an engaging, inspiring and visual way to explore the world. But that is not enough. I want our students to create their own AR and VR experiences, too. To successfully do this, students need to engage with the content and the technology, learn how to experiment and, most importantly, play as they build, share
help students make connections, resynthesize what they have learnt and find ways for them to share their learning with the world. This is true now and still will be in 20 years or even 100 years. The apps will change but the things we ask students to do – such as research, create, analyse, model, collaborate – will remain the same. Teachers will always be needed to coach and mentor children, even if the way we do it looks very different. Geoffrey Derry is a speaker at the IB Heads World Conference 2018
MEET THE SPEAKERS Rose Luckin, from UCL Knowledge Lab and EDUCATE, on artificial intelligence
From training women in rural India to be engineers to the rise of AI and developing creativity in Singapore, our speakers explain how they are…
PHOTOS: VARIAL CÉDRIC HOUIN; BSIP SA/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
obot teachers will take our jobs away’ and ‘artificial intelligence (AI) is a silver bullet that will solve many problems within education’. These are the two biggest misconceptions about AI, which I hope to dispel in my presentation AI and the future of education. AI is a really useful tool and is gaining traction in various sectors, but it can’t do everything. It can learn and teach a knowledgebased curriculum, but it can’t teach emotional or social intelligence, or motivate and understand individual children and why they might not be engaged in a certain topic. Teaching is about much more than communicating knowledge. It is about interacting with people, and this is an important component that is best delivered by a human. Helping educators understand AI will ensure they are not scared of it and can use it effectively. During my presentation, I will explain the way education may change to accommodate the prevalence of AI in the lives of learners – in and out of school and in their future workplace – and
how AI can improve teaching and learning. There are systems already available that are driven by AI, which provide individualized tutoring to students, and there is good evidence that they are effective. AI can also help us analyse enormous amounts of data at a fine-grained level of detail so that we can better understand our students and see if they are developing a good understanding of their abilities. This helps teachers become better at their jobs. The profession will be 69 million teachers short by 2030, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. AI could help us tackle this problem. Not by taking jobs away but by enabling educators to teach more students in the classroom and/or virtually. There is huge potential for addressing this problem and helping teachers feel more fulfilled in their roles. But change depends on the big decisions being made now by policy makers and the big tech companies.
Barefoot College teaches technical skills to people in Indian villages
Meagan Fallone, CEO of Barefoot College, on teaching rural communities
e live in a world where a formal education is not a reality for two-thirds of the population right now. But technology offers an incredible opportunity to empower these people with skill-sets that will change their quality of life. Many of us are still stuck in the mindset that ‘those who want an education need to attend a physical building to learn’. When, in fact, learning can happen anywhere. Learning is a state of mind. It’s a passion that you ignite in somebody and that’s what we should be focusing on. We don’t yet have the objective to make knowledge free, which would give everyone access to education. This is our 13
biggest global barrier to education. Activist Mahatma Gandhi believed that there is tremendous wisdom, skills and knowledge in very poor and rural communities, but these are not always recognized. As global citizens, we have a responsibility to change this and to give more leverage to this untapped skill-set and knowledge. Barefoot College International – a not-forprofit social innovation organization – focuses on breaking down the barriers around how people learn; what they learn; how knowledge is transferred; and perceptions of who’s capable of doing what. For example, at Barefoot College, we train illiterate and semi-literate women, between 35 and 50 years old, to be fully qualified solar engineers. They play a major role in community
MEET THE SPEAKERS Pak Tee Ng, from the National Institute of Education, on paying it forward
PHOTO: VARIAL CÉDRIC HOUIN
T development, bringing sustainable electricity to remote villages (pictured above). We recently launched BindiSolar – the first solar equipment company in the world that is designed, made, installed and maintained by women. A team of people who are not formally educated lead this entire enterprise. This is just one example of how we look at democratizing technology, so that it ceases to be the domain of someone with a PhD. Barefoot College is based on the lifestyle and work style of Gandhi. We work to develop communities, primarily through informal education and innovative knowledge pathways. During my presentation, I will discuss the ways we are creating access to knowledge that does not require a formal education, which includes leveraging more human capital towards positive values, a positive economic balance and a more socially just equilibrium.
here is huge interest in Singapore’s education system due to its international test results. But the country’s success story is about much more than this. It is about the courage, spirit and tenacity of educators to navigate the paradoxes of change to shape the country’s future. Despite its success, Singapore continues to reform its education system and is embracing the competing challenges that drive positive
Currently, our minds are closed to this possibility. Many see creative learning and academic learning as an ‘either/or’ situation, but we just have to improve our craft so that we can do both. To achieve the right balance, the curriculum and lessons need to be redesigned, which requires professional development, growth and a higher skill-set level from our teachers. It needs government support and professional agency, which is crucial for successful reform. Singapore is putting in more efforts to emphasize
“Is it possible to achieve good exam results and have a creative curriculum?” movements within it. Key questions for the country are: is it possible to achieve good exam results and have a creative curriculum? And can we develop creativity while excelling in exams? Applying real-life examples to lessons encourages creativity. Children will look at everyday life with a sense of wonder and relate situations back to a lesson – they will have the willingness to toy with different ideas. 14
values inculcation, lifelong learning, holistic education and 21st century skills. We hope to encourage joyful learning and help our students develop resilience and an entrepreneurial spirit. Change will always require some sort of sacrifice. But, the spirit of education is a human enterprise of ‘paying it forward’. This means that one generation will pay the price of change so that another generation will have a better future.
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Special edition of IB World magazine for the IB Global Conference, Singapore 2018.