The teaching in ACS(I) is no different than in junior colleges

How awesome and uniquely different is the quality of teaching in schools which offer the IB program compared to that in junior colleges which offer the 'A' Levels? A former ACS(I) student who goes by the online moniker Twilight feels there is hardly any discernible difference, and shares her personal opinions:

"For ACS(I), I am a bit skeptical about the idea that doing the IB curriculum fosters critical thinking in students more strongly than doing the 'A' Level curriculum. This is largely due to the teachers we have in the school. There are some very good teachers that try to instil in us the ability to think and reason. The degree of success is of course up to the student's ability/willingness to engage in such guidance.

I think many teachers in ACS(I) graduated from NIE. They received the same training as teachers who teach in JC, so I don't think there is any difference between their style of teaching and thinking and those of JC teachers. And most of them did the 'A' Levels as students, as such I think it is difficult for them to deviate from the rigidity of thinking that they have been taught, and hence in turn are unable to teach students to think critically. Subjects like Theory of Knowledge (TOK) are supposed to foster critical thinking but many TOK teachers are unable to encourage higher order thinking in students. This is actually true for many subjects but its implications are of course felt the worst for TOK, as reflected in the average TOK grade for ACS(I). Perhaps C is a good grade already considering TOK is not an easy subject, but relative to the >6.5 mean subject grade (MSG) for other subjects, C is quite poor.

This is not to say that I do not like the IB curriculum, it's just that the teaching in ACS(I) is actually no different than in JCs despite doing the IB curriculum, which sort of diminishes the benefits one could receive from doing IB.

Personally, I think an incredibly science inclined student (one who has no interest or aptitude in humanities and would choose ESS as a group 3 subject to avoid doing a real humanities) is better off doing the A levels. IB math and science are really easy compared to A level, and I feel a loss of opportunity in not being able to learn H3 stuff that is only available to 'A' Level students. In addition to the group 3 subject, there is also English Language and Literature or English Literature to contend with. I also think that it's more worth learning a science standard level (SL) subject than a humanities SL subject. A science or math SL subject is really way easier than their high level (HL) counterparts, but there is not too much difference between humanities SL and HL subjects. As such, if one only desires a holistic education for the sake of a holistic education but without much interest in humanities, I do not recommend doing IB. If one thinks one can start to think more critically upon doing IB, think carefully before really enrolling in IB. Do take into account the context of a Singapore education system.

For me, I think my greatest gain from doing IB is learning to write lab reports and a science research paper. My teachers didn't really guide me in doing these, so my takeaway is really the result of the IB system itself. My next greatest gain would be improving my communication skills. This I have to attribute to my amazing literature teachers and TOK teacher. If one gets a good teacher, one can really reap much benefits, whether doing 'A' levels or IB."


The Czar (Site Founder)

Dated 4 January 2014


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