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A curious mind is one of the hallmarks of a lifelong learner. More than that, it leads to critical thinking and, often, empathy and respect for other viewpoints. And when it is encouraged by dedicated teachers it can lead students to excel both academically and personally.
Ridley College is staffed by knowledgeable, skilled teachers who prepare students for leadership in an increasingly global world whether they pursue a traditional high school diploma based on the Ontario K to 12 curriculum, or an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. It’s in the latter that Ridley is alone in its class: it recently became the only independent boarding school in Canada to offer an International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum programme – one that encompasses students from age three to 19 – and just one of 15 schools across the country to offer it in addition to its regular Ontario K to 12 curriculum.
What is the International Baccalaureate programme?
The IB program was developed in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland, as an international standard for students living abroad so that children could prepare for university even when the local curriculum didn’t meet their needs.
Fast forward almost 50 years and an IB diploma is a respected and rigorous alternative to a standard high school diploma, one that often sets students apart from their peers in the eyes of universities. It prepares students for the challenges of post-secondary study and encourages real-world thinking, setting the stage for them to flourish as global citizens.
But the program begins much earlier than high school. As an IB continuum school, Ridley College offers a Primary Years Programme (PYP) for students aged three to 12, a Middle Years Programme (MYP) for students aged 11 to 16, and a Diploma Programme (DP) for students aged 16 to 19.
IB is meant to teach students how to think from a very young age. Rather than being a curriculum, IB is an approach to learning, a pedagogical philosophy that incorporates the best of 21st-century education.
Ed Kidd, Headmaster at Ridley College
At the PYP level, students focus on six subject areas – mathematics, language, science, social studies, the arts, and physical, social and personal education – within the context of six broader themes – who we are, where we are in place and time, how we express ourselves, how the world works, how we organize ourselves and sharing the planet.
When they move into the MYP, students expand their learning to become creative thinkers with a global focus.
Finally, the Diploma Programme offers both depth of study and breadth of knowledge to prepare students for further studies. In addition to their coursework students are required to engage in independent research, critically examine what knowledge is, and engage in service outside of the classroom.
It’s not just about academics, though. At their heart, the IB programs foster curiosity and caring, leading to knowledgeable, internationally-minded learners. Balance and focus are a large part of the program, as are a student’s social, emotional and physical well-being, which places university-bound students in good stead.
It’s good teaching. The IB framework makes learning a rich and rigorous experience. We’ve adopted a world-class approach to teaching and learning that allows us to prepare students from around the world for living in an increasingly global society.
Ed Kidd, Ridley College Headmaster
Why does IB matter?
The International Baccalaureate Organization has lofty goals: “to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect… These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”
In short, in a world where ‘different’ often incites fear, IB programs promote open-mindedness and empathy, co-operation and collaboration, and respect for all. They take a holistic approach and encourage learners to look both outward and inward to understand our common humanity.
“IB is student-centred, inquiry-based, inter-disciplinary and international. It brings the world and global-mindedness and global competency into the curriculum,” says Kidd. “The IB approach is founded on taking action and service to others… (which) fits in with our commitment to service and school motto (TERAR DUM PROSIM: May I be consumed in service).”
And with students from across Canada and 44 other nations, Ridley College and its IB programs are a truly international experience like any other boarding school in Canada.
How the IB programme inspires students
The IB programme encourages young learners to both be of service within their school and their community, and to take on leadership roles, sometimes both at the same time. It’s an approach that instills a lifelong commitment to doing their best both for themselves and others.
Meet Grace Lowes. She graduated from Ridley this spring and was one of just 31 recipients of the prestigious Loran Award, a scholarship that includes up to $100,000 for post-secondary studies and mentorship from some of Canada’s top business and community leaders. It is awarded to students who exemplify the ideals of strong character, service and leadership, all three of which Grace has in spades.
She is now at McGill University studying philosophy and politics and says Ridley prepared her well for the rigours of post-secondary life. “There are a lot of things the IB programme does really well and one is that it instills really good time management. Ridley gives students all of the tools to be successful with a challenging workload and I’ve taken those skills to McGill. I know I can handle it because of what Ridley taught me.”
In addition to academic excellence, Grace’s accomplishments at Ridley included launching a school chapter of Days for Girls, which makes and donates reusable feminine hygiene products to third-world girls to keep them from missing days of school, spearheading a dress code review to make it gender-neutral, co-founding the Model U.N. group, and leading other students as a Prefect in her final year.
Ridley is an international school and being surrounded by such a multicultural student body I was able to be really well informed on global issues and ways in which I could contribute to my global community. We read the newspapers and we see things happening in other countries and it doesn’t hit home, but when the person sitting in the desk next to you has a family living in Venezuela suddenly things become really real. Ridley helped me be more socially aware and definitely contributed to my global empathy.
Grace Lowes, Ridley College almuna and loran scholar
It’s not just those skills that Grace has carried forward, it’s Ridley’s support system, too. “I always felt like I was surrounded by people who were there to support me and guide me through even the most challenging times. The support system Ridley gives you is unprecedented; it’s a global support system and it doesn’t stop once you graduate.”
For more information about the IB programme at Ridley College, please visit ridleycollege.com/ib.
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