by Mr. Raymond L. Huang
After the first year of the initial batch of the Xavier IB Diploma program, I am writing to give a parent’s perspective of the IB program implementation, the positives which are many and perhaps an area of improvement for the coming batches.
By and large, the implementation of the IB Diploma program at Xavier School has been a resounding success. This comes from the feedback of students, teachers and parents alike. The leadership of Fr. Johnny Go in pursuing the program and accreditation of Xavier School and the smooth implementation by Ms. Rosie Moscoso and the entire IB faculty of the program must be commended.
It is very encouraging to be an alumnus of Xavier School and see that the school is taking on new and exciting directions in broadening the educational experience of its student body. While the IB program is an established institution internationally, the resolve and courage to execute this program with its inherent challenges have been rather outstanding.
To attribute the current success of the program to one or two factors would not do justice to the entire ecosystem that had to be established to make the program work.
One of the biggest factors for this success is the synergy that comes from having a group of bright, motivated students, committed teachers, leadership from the school heads and supportive parents. The screening process of the students was key in ensuring that the selected students had the correct attitude and aptitude to succeed in a student-centered learning environment. It was equally important to choose the right members of the faculty who are absolutely committed to ensuring the development of the students and instilling in them the skills and knowledge necessary for the students to succeed in the upcoming external exams at the end of the Program’s 2nd year.
The introduction of subjects such as the Theory of Knowledge (TOK), while relatively new and previously unheard of in the Xavier curriculum, arms IB students with the key concepts in “learning how to learn”. This, along with Creativity, Action and Service (CAS), provide a balanced program for the students to pursue their academic studies in the context of their overall development and maturity as young adults.
The regular communication that Fr. Johnny has conducted with IB parents to solicit feedback, comments and insights continues to be the cornerstone of the cooperative support system among students, parents and faculty alike. This activity has been very useful in raising many of the concerns which parents observe and share with the Xavier IB team based on their children’s experiences. It has also helped to correct the perception that IB students are being overburdened with too many tasks and not having enough time to complete their work in a timely manner. (Time management is the key!)
Having just returned from Beijing a couple of weeks back, I was able to observe how valuable the Xavier China Experience is for the first batch of IB students. I recall that in the last parents’ dialogue with Fr. Johnny, I commented that the IB program learning should focus not just on theoretical learning from books but on experiential learning as well. I believe the XCE is achieving this experiential learning objective and while much focus has been placed on learning Mandarin (for up to four hours a day), the day-to-day living and interaction experienced by the students in an international city like Beijing is certainly broadening their outlook and insights on life and its challenges in our 21st century.
Perhaps the only feedback I can share to improve the program is the proper scheduling of the IB students’ class time. The current set up with two classes having different schedules may be causing difficulty for the faculty to attend to their students and their needs.
I am very pleased that our son is part of the Xavier IB initial batch and is making visible progress in the program. After all, what parent would not want their son to get the kind of education that can instill the proper values foundation and enable them to be the ”best they can be.”
The Xavier IB program affords our sons this opportunity. I would encourage other parents who are still considering this program to take a serious look at it and decide based on the program’s merits, the benefits that will accrue to their sons in preparing them for college and helping their sons to be mature, responsible and empowered individuals. While the IB program’s first year has been completed with flying colors, we look forward to the upcoming year and the years to follow. There are still many challenges ahead and we have only just begun.