International Baccalaureate – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is International Baccalaureate (IB)?

It was created in 1976 in Geneva, Switzerland. It has been continually reviewed and improved by leading educators of the world. The Asia Pacific office is in Singapore. There are 4000 IB schools/colleges all over the world: Europe, USA, Canada, Singapore, Australia, all over the world in 140 countries. It is recognized by all governments in the world. In India, there are CBSE, ISC and the state boards. IB is the truly international and 21st century system. The last time IB curriculum was revised by a committee of educators from all over the world, with the help of professors of the most renowned universities. It has got four programs: Primary Years Program (PYP) for ages 3 to 12, Middle Years Program (MYP) for ages 11 to 16, Diploma Program (DP) for ages 16 to 18, and E-Diploma Program (EDP). The VMWC is authorized for PYP and a candidate school for MYP and DP. The VMWC remains an ICSE & ISC college. In classes ninth and tenth the ICSE syllabus is integrated with MYP methodology. A student can appear for ICSE in March and for MYP in next May.

In India there are 114 IB schools / colleges. The most renowned of schools of India are taking up IB, some for philosophical reasons, some for enabling students to get admission to world’s best universities, like Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, etc. because the IB students get preference for admission in the top institutions of India and the world.
Some of the names of prominent IB colleges in India are:…….

What is Vidyatree?

Vidyatree curriculum was created over a period of 20 years by the founder of The Modern School, now named as Vidyatree Modern World College. It was finally drafted in April 2003 out of Mr Jiddu Krishnamurti’s educational practices and philosophy. Its key goal is the protection and nurturing of human mental capacity and intelligence, through excellence without stress as the guiding principle. Teachers are taught how to meditate so that they become more creative and find their own solutions to this creative challenge. Excellence of Vidyatree has been evident in the self-confidence of students, excellent ICSE and ISC results year after year, almost every year two to four students have been getting into IITs and other great institutions. Most of our alumnae are doctors, engineers, CEOs of companies and successful businessmen.

What is the difference between Vidyatree and IB?

They are complementary.
Vidyatree curriculum goal is to give the child freedom to learn many times more than a text-book, to provide stress-free humane relationships and social system, and to promote excellence without distress – in sum protecting and nurturing his/her mental health / intelligence.
IB provides the methodology, syllabus and detailed teacher training system to systematically carry out the mission of Vidyatree.

What is ‘serve-&-return’ ?

‘Serve-&-return’ is an expression taken from a sport like tennis or table-tennis. It describes a relationship of domination by the powerful over the weak, instead for the struggle for domination, they are cooperating to keep the ball in play.
In natural relationships, generally the stronger dominate the weak – like the two players seek to dominate and defeat each other. In relating to the child, the adult parent or teacher, is stronger to the child or student. But in the ‘serve-&-return’ relationship, the stronger adult seeks to cooperate with the weaker child, in keeping the ball in play.

Why will the strong not have a tendency to dominate the weak?

The strong will not dominate the weak if the relationship is perceived not as natural, but humanistic.
If the strong teacher does not want to impose his/her will on the weaker student, but as a human being loves the child, then domination will turn into harmonious cooperation. In other words, in humanistic loving relationships the adult seeks to facilitate the growth and increasing empowerment of the weaker child/student.
Love is the difference, between the natural behaviour of domination and the humanistic behaviour of genuine cooperation.

What is the reason why you have taken up the humanistic approach?

The school was started under the inspiration of the great Buddhist educator, Shri Jiddu Krishnamurti. This key quotation had inspired us: ‘Fear cripples intelligence. Where there is love & affection, there is no fear.”
Fear is a stressor, that shrinks the brain and cripples intelligence. Therefore the key to the school is to appoint teachers who are affectionate by nature and do not have the sadistic streak of dominating the child. This is the key to our ‘Vidyatree – 4G of education’ program. The teachers are additionally trnsformed to be affectionate through practice of meditation or self-knowing. The motto of the school is ‘Know Thyself’, which is the basis of capacity to love.
An affectionate ‘serve-&-return’ ensures full growth of intelligence in the child. It is well known through medical research that pressure shrinks the brain. The continuous pressure of domination by the teacher and the examination based educational system, creates chronic stress and shrinks the brain. The ‘serve-&-return’ cooperation between the teacher and each child, nurtures the brain to health & full growth of brain / intelligence. It is essentially a process of appreciating the student’s good work and encouraging him to inquire and create further.
The IB system provides a structure of learning which is based on making children not through the external pressure of reward or punishment, but to creating an intrinsic motivation to learn. This is done through making the child learn through enquiry of his choice, while meeting the demands of syllabus. The resulting love of learning leads to five times or more learning. The child’s learning is not restricted to the text-book or what the teacher says, but is free. The child learns with greater confidence, greater energy, independence.

How many students should be there in a class for ‘serve-&-return’ to happen often?

The less the better. In Australia and Eurpoe, the number is generally 15. But there are economic limitations set by people’s attitudes and understanding of what is education.. So in India generally 25 students per class can be made economical, out of which on any day two to four students are on leave. Hence a teacher is dealing with on an average of 23 students in the class-room.
Even with 25 students, and the great cost of teacher training, quality control and latest facilities, the fee needs to logically be two to three times than a school with classes of 50 to 70 students in the class.
In classes with 50 to 70 students per class, there are too many students for the teacher to have ‘serve-&-return’ with each child. In big classes a major portion of her energy is spent in controlling the ‘discipline’ of the students. In a small class it is easier to control, but there is another factor which prevents indiscipline – children are intrinsically motivated to learn and are busy enjoying learning.
In a big class most of the children feel as if the school is a custodial institution, out to make their life as much distressful as possible and the adults are chiefly sadistic and seek to manipulate them through punishment and rewards. Their the main motive is to be away from home, and the main joy of being there is not the joy of learning and discovery, but side issues like being with friends or do mischief or play sports. On the other hand in a Vidyatree – IB school/college the children look forward to it being a place for joy of learning and healthy mental growth.

What is the Vidyatree – IB approach to discipline?

Discipline is not the result of threats, or fear of punishment, but class-agreements. Class agreements are jointly created by the students and the teachers, to which all voluntarily abide by.
For repeat non-cooperative children there are special procedures by the higher authorities of the school / college. Newly admitted students in higher classes take some time to learn to be ashamed of violating agreements & be cooperative, but then all learn in due course. Of course this procedure is difficult in India where agreements are very often broken by the citizens without any shame. But then is it not a college’s responsibility to make human beings to abide by morality? Being ashamed of breach of trust is an important moral value, the school aims to teach it.

What is the difference between Vidyatree and IB?

They are complementary.
Vidyatree’s goal is to give the child freedom to learn, of stress-free humane relationships and social system, to promote excellence without distress – because the key issue is normal mental health for the child, it is the protecting and nurturing his/her intelligence.
IB provides the methodology, syllabus and detailed teacher training system to systematically carry out the mission of Vidyatree.

Why do IB Vidyatree students love their school?

Because the school respects them. Provides stress free education and so protects their brain and intelligence. As teacher and the educational system creates intrinsic motivation to learn, the children do not feel learning or coming to school as a burden. The teacher does seek to dominate and coerce them, but cooperate and partner with them. They are thankful to the school, its teachers and their parents. Vidyatree IB children love and respect their school, their teachers and their parents.

Why do traditional school children hate their school, and hence their teachers and their parents?

Because the school tries very hard to make them learn through extrinsic motivation. It puts pressure on them through threats of exams failure and poor scores. It manipulates them through punishment and reward. The 21st century children of a democratic country do not easily succumb to coercion by the school and the teachers. They react to coercive pressure and manipulation, and hate the school and the teachers. Because the parents join the teachers and the school in putting pressure demanding exam results, they also hate and disrespect their parents and want to get away from them as quickly as possible, after class twelfth.

Do parents have to teach the children?

As traditional school shrinks the brain, makes the student dependent on the teacher, the exam calendar is fixed but not the quality and timliness of teaching; so the child requires reteaching by the untrained parent at home or tuition by generally an untrained and equally coercive and unsupervised tuition teacher. In Vidyatree IB school the children’s brain is not shrunk as learning is designed such that there is no burden. Besides, the number of children is kept small in the class (25 as compared to 45-65+ in traditional school) so teacher can ensure good learning by each child. So the child does not require any teaching by the parents, nor tuition. Parents can however partner with their children at home in the excitement of unlimited learning through enquiry.

What about syllabus?

The child’s learning is not dictated by or controlled by the teacher’s knowledge, but is unlimited. Assessment is done what the child can do, and not what he has failed to memorize – as it happens in the traditional system. So the children’s self confidence, joy of learning and mental strength grows by leaps. IB primarily defines methods of teaching to ensure stress free learning and development of thinking and research skills. IB schools are free to define their own local syllabus fitted into the IB framework.