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IB Continuum: Working Together in an Interdependent World

By Stephen Spahn, Chancellor of The Dwight School in New York, NY, USA. The Dwight School was the first school in the USA to offer the IB continuum.

Founded in 1872, The Dwight School is a PreK-12 private, international school located on the Upper West Side of New York City. This year, Dwight continues to build on the IB continuum for our students from pre-kindergarten (age 3) through grade 12 (age 18).

The IB continuum has given us a framework to involve students in innovative technology initiatives, environmental projects, meaningful foreign exchange opportunities, and community building endeavors, which is reflected in our plans for this school year.

As technology becomes an increasingly important part of our everyday lives, Dwight continues to break ground using online courses as a way to utilize 21st century skills to connect with a global audience. Adding to last year’s pilot online course on leadership development, our 10th grade students are participating in an online technology course, whose curriculum, based on J.F. Rischard’s book High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them, will require them to help solve global issues using social media tools. Our ninth graders are participating in an online citizen journalism course that will enable them to research, write and publish a salon-type electronic magazine.

We recently helped found the Dwight International School (DIS), an IB candidate school on Vancouver Island. The initial student population of 140 students includes specially selected future leaders of the Cowichan Indian tribe.

Through DIS programs, students at Dwight and other New York City schools will have a chance to learn traditional Indian skills from the Cowichan Indians and conduct environmental research in the densest rain forest in the world.

The IB is based upon the philosophy that we live in a world without borders, which requires us to become knowledgeable of other societies. To that end, we enter our fifth year offering Mandarin Chinese to our elementary students. To expand our whole school’s knowledge of China, we recently signed the first pilot joint Chinese-American curriculum program allowed in a state school in Beijing. This program, currently involving 120 Chinese students at the Capital Normal High School, provides our school community with a unique opportunity for virtual and real student and teacher exchanges.

Lastly, through Dwight's Institute for Civic Leadership (ICL), a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and educate students through the IB and provide “take action” opportunities to become engaged global citizens, we invite New York City private, parochial, and public schools to join with us in engaging in an international exchange of ideas and contributing to communities in developing countries through the programs listed above as well as others in the Middle East, India, and Africa. Over the past eight years, several thousand students from more than one hundred schools have participated in ICL programs. We have learned that it is necessary to have all of us work together in this interdependent world.

To learn more, please visit www.dwight.edu and www.iclny.org.