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“I think therefore IB”

Many years ago, at the beginning of my 26 year relationship with the IB programme, someone came up with the following statement at an IB Physics workshop: “I think therefore IB”.

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What a fantastic linguistic match between the famous “Cogito, ergo sum” by Rene Descartes and one of the 10 attributes of the IB Learner Profile. 

“I think therefore I am” – the English translation of the original statement in Latin has become a foundation of Western philosophy during times of doubt and uncertainty.

Descartes was not the first philosopher to assert that thinking is the key to our existence. Pre-Socratic philosophers had already expressed this notion, as did Plato and finally Aristotle in his statement: “we are conscious that we think, and to be conscious that we are perceiving or thinking is to be conscious that we exist...”.

As I have said on many occasions, everything that we do at The British School Warsaw aims for our students, IB and beyond, to develop the 10 attributes of the IB Learner Profile (presented in the circle above) – beginning with the most essential and fundamental one – THINKER.

I believe that our strategy to fulfill this aim follows two paths: our curriculum and our approach to teaching and learning.  Our curriculum, from IPC to IB, places thinking and problem solving at the forefront of the skills to be attained by the students.

In mathematics, students investigate different ways of dividing two numbers until they come up with their own understanding of the famous long division algorithm or they look at the applications of quadratic functions in real life to gain a better understanding that a path of a projectile is not a circle but a parabola.

In terms of teaching and learning, students are not asked to memorize information provided but are required to use this information to analyse and to draw their own conclusions. 

Learning history is another of my favourite examples where in many school systems it was and still is the norm to teach and learn history by purely memorizing dates, names and facts. Our students, on the contrary, are presented with various pieces of information, in the form of an article, a map or a painting  - they need to think, find a connection and  come up with an inductive conclusion about the historical events that took place.  I once saw a Year 8 history lesson where students examined paintings that depicted the French Revolution and from these paintings they were able to draw some interesting conclusions about what really happened in France at the end of 18th century.

So what does it mean to be a thinker?

In my own words it is someone who consciously or subconsciously applies the rules of deductive and inductive reasoning in drawing logical and justified conclusions. 

I believe that when you visit our classrooms, this is exactly what you will see: students engaged in inquiry based learning, collecting data or exploring various sources of evidence and hence drawing rational deductions and conclusions.

Dr Jacek Łatkowski

Vice Principal