IB Asia Pacific Newsletter
Quarter Four, 2008
Focus on Schools
We like to feature a few schools in this section in each issue. If you wish to submit an article, please send a summary ( ¾ of an A4 page) with a picture(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ensure the pictures are sent in a separate jpeg with captions, with your name and email contact. Please note that the publishing of these articles is subject to the final selection of the editor.
Theory of Knowledge Retreat
Beijing City International School
In October 2008, Beijing City International School (BCIS) organised and hosted a two-day “Theory of Knowledge” retreat, which brought together Grade 11 students and TOK teachers from BCIS, Western Academy Beijing, BISS and Dulwich College Beijing.
The objective of the retreat was two days of inquiry-based immersion in Theory of Knowledge, with a focus on the four main ways of knowing: language, emotion, reason and perception.
A hundred and sixty-nine students attended workshops lead by eight Theory of Knowledge teachers, to investigate the core question of TOK: 'How do we know the things we think we know?'
Links were made between emotion and Biology, reason and Visual Arts, and Mathematics and perception.
A key aim of the retreat was to help students develop greater self-awareness as knowers – whether as scientists, historians or mathematicians, or as themselves negotiating the knowledge issues of everyday life. In discussion, students were called on to explain the impact of culture, gender, or religion on their different perspectives, and to ask not only 'how do I know?', but also 'why do I believe the things I do?'
Another theme of the retreat was 'knowledge in action'. Students explored the role of inductive and deductive reasoning in decision making, drawing conclusions about the need to take action despite the lack of absolute certainty in world issues such as global warming, poverty, and the economy.
Students left the retreat better informed, and with a more solid understanding of concepts at the root of TOK, ready to build on these as they move through their TOK courses, and towards the final essay and presentation.
Nick Daniel, DP Coordinator
Beijing City International School
Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College & the Mutitjulu Aboriginal Community Programme
This September holidays senior students from Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College, North Sydney undertook our second journey to the Aboriginal community at Mutitjulu in Central Australia. Mutitjulu is in the shadow of Uluru and is home to the Anangu people. Our programme saw staff and students involved in working with Aboriginal artists at local art cooperative, doing community service at the Mutitjulu Child Care Centre, as well as undertaking hike through the Kata Tjuta section of the national park, so we engaged with all elements of Creativity, Action and Service.
To enhance our interaction with the Anangu community our group undertook extensive training before departure, which included meetings with Melanie Hogan, the Director of the film Kanyini, a class with Aboriginal artist Walangari who delivered a workshop on Central Desert art and culture, training in issues connected with Aboriginal childhood and growing up conducted by ex-student, Janette Blainey, and meeting with Scott McCall, who is currently employed by the Australian Government to develop employment programs in Mutitjulu. We also attempted learning the language basics of the Pitjantjatjara, as well as sitting with Monte’s Indigenous advisors, Uncle Max Harrison and Aunty Julie Smith who shared their insights into spirituality and understanding culture. The following reflection was written by Clare Brennan, a Year 11 IB DP student, about her journey:
“There was one residing message that I took away from the childcare programme in Mutitjulu: the profound humanity of each individual involved, whether it be a member of the Mutitjulu community or a member of our group. Having been involved in the preparation for the trip, as well as in broader social justice and Indigenous issues, I felt reasonably well prepared for the reality of the situation. However, it is one thing to know these things academically, another to understand and connect with them. The concepts of ‘Indigenous Affairs’, so often debated and studied in this nation, now have a face to them. Once I know the people behind the statistics, the statistics themselves take on new meaning. The strong sense of identity and a shared humanity I felt by meeting the Anangu at Mutitjulu was an irreplaceable and extraordinary experience for me. It leads me, not simply to a deeper understanding of Indigenous people, but to a greater knowledge and questioning of my own society and myself. I appreciate the need to recognise the innate worth of each individual, rather than the circumstances of their situation, and to use this as a basis for understanding and for change.”
Marshall Leaver, CAS Coordinator
Support and celebration of the Fijian indigenous community by International School Nadi
International School Nadi in Fiji has done a lot to support and celebrate its indigenous community. Acquisition of the indigenous language has been a focus of the Fijian class, as the school has incorporated the learning of Fijian Studies in its Middle Years Programme.
As an anonymous writer once wrote:
“Through learning language, we learn about culture.
Through learning about culture, we learn respect for others.
Through learning respect for others, we can hope for peace."
As part of Fijian Studies practical classes, students learnt first hand traditional games, craftwork and indigenous cuisines. In our school Community and Service programme, students have helped Fijian villages in projects like renovation of schools, book and clothes donations and cleaning of village foreshores.
On 10 October, the school celebrated Fiji Day commemorating its 38 years of independence. This program was celebrated with performances of traditional dances and comedy by teachers and students. The school community was encouraged to dress up in a “bula” attire for the day.
Having the students and teachers to learn, experience, support and celebrate the Fijian way of life has enabled them to be open minded, showing respect and appreciation of the indigenous culture and traditions.
Nigel Chandra, Deputy Principal/ MYP Coordinator
Beijing City International School, China
Students in intense discussion
Group picture to commemorate the TOK Retreat in BCIS
Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College, Australia
Monte girls at Ayers Rock, Northern Territory
Getting involved with the Mutitjulu Indigenous art cooperative
Artistic image of the central desert, Ayers Rock
International School Nadi, Fiji
ISN students in 'Bula' attire
ISN student learning palm leaf basket weaving