As we head into the future, one thing has become clear: the importance of thinking critically about the world.
We live in an age where knowledge and information is as unfiltered as it is widespread. It is a direct result of our rapidly changing society, a society that is constantly pushing the boundaries of what we know.
It’s a far cry from a millennium ago – or maybe even a few decades ago, when a profession like farming was all about planting seeds and tending the fields. Now the average farmer has unrestricted access to research, enabling them to make data-driven decisions that will lead to optimal results.
Today, everyone, regardless of career, is placed in a position where decision-making is paramount to career success. This implies a need for individuals who can analyze, interpret and evaluate the information presented to them to be successful in this endeavor – in other words, it requires critical thinking skills.
This is what students learn in the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) component of their International Baccalaureate (IB). Through TOK, students are encouraged to question what they know and how they came to this conclusion. They acquire theoretical and practical knowledge about the functioning of the world around them and can thus become more aware of their personal and ideological assumptions.
This is one aspect of learning that Shanghai Community International School (SCIS) does well.
“Through Theory of Knowledge, students come to understand that knowledge is not simply information, but something they make up for themselves through critical interaction with the interpretation of the ‘information,” says Emmet Dunphy, head of language and literature and individuals and societies at the high school. SCIS campus in Pudong. “They become more skilled and confident not only by engaging critically with the knowledge claims of others, but also by interrogating their own assumptions and beliefs.”
The TOK is assessed through two aspects: an essay and an oral work (the TOK exhibition). “In the assessment component, students work and produce, their goal is not just to present a position in response to a question or prompt, but to deconstruct and examine the reasoning and knowledge they used to get to this position,” Dunphy adds.
This is a key element that drives SCIS’s focused academic program. As an IB Continuum Global School, it integrates the IB into all aspects of a student’s learning, from the primary years through to their eventual IB Diploma Programme. Through this, students are encouraged from an early age to become holistic, culturally aware and independent thinkers.
The IB Diploma itself is centered around six subjects to be studied, which requires students to select a science, a mathematics and a second language. SCIS goes further. Students are not without choice, being able to choose from six subject groups including Arts, Languages and Literature, Science, Mathematics, Individuals and Societies, among others.
There’s also a 4,000-word in-depth essay, community service, and, of course, TOK. Overall, the IB provides a learning experience that allows a student to grow both academically and personally – and there is no doubt that SCIS is one of the best schools in the world to do so.
Apart from the IB, SCIS is a world-class international school for students aged 2-18. It has three campuses in Shanghai, all with purpose-built school facilities and flexible learning spaces. These include 25-meter-long swimming pools, 700-seat auditoriums on two floors, a 10,000-square-foot Black Box theater, rock climbing walls, indoor basketball courts, science labs and computers, outdoor playgrounds in the jungle, and much more.
Students are taught in small classrooms and are supported by 213 faculty members, all of whom are certified in their teaching fields and 88 of whom hold master’s degrees.
Through this, it is clear that SCIS is dedicated to providing the best possible environment for its students to thrive academically, with plenty of room for personal development. It is this attitude that has attracted a wide range of students from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia.
SCIS’s IB-focused curriculum has produced excellent results. Many SCIS graduates hold the highest 45 IBDP score and have twice as many top-ranked IBDP scores as the world average. All – 100% – students are accepted to universities in over 23 different destinations. 15% are accepted to top 10 universities in the world including Cambridge University, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, Imperial College London, etc.
All of this combined has earned SCIS worldwide recognition and praise. It is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and a member of the East Asian Overseas Schools Conference (EARCOS) and the Association of International Schools of China and Mongolia. (ACAMIS).
More importantly, however, it is a testament to the school’s ability to produce capable, intelligent and socially conscious global citizens – all of whom are paving the way to becoming the next global generation of leaders and doers in their fields.
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