7 Essential Characteristics of an IB Learner

The International Baccalaureate Programme, or IB for short, is a continuum of global educational programs for primary school, middle school, and high school students that is currently being implemented in 159 countries. To date, more than 7,000 international schools offer the program, and more than 1.95 million students are presently full-fledged IB learners. 

But what exactly does it mean to become an IB learner, and what IB core values are students meant to embody during their time in this prestigious program? The short answer for prospective students and their parents is this: students who have the privilege of enrolling in the IB Programme should join the global community in the IB’s dual vision of improving individual lives and transforming the world into a better place. 

There are certain characteristics that an International Baccalaureate Singapore student should possess in order to excel in one of the best international schools in Singapore. To help new IB students set their expectations, here’s a list of seven essential traits that distinguish an IB learner. 

A Passion for Knowledge

One of the values that the IB Programme aims to inculcate in every learner is a love for knowledge. On top of driving students’ pursuit of academic rigor while they are enrolled in the program, this passion for knowledge will impress the value of learning even outside of school. Many IB graduates consider themselves lifelong learners, and as a result, they become leaders in knowledge production and knowledge sharing for their respective professional fields later in life. For students who are not shy about their intellectual pursuits and who are not afraid of immersing themselves in different disciplines, the IB Programme is definitely a good fit.  

A Mind for Critical Inquiry

Despite their desire to learn what they can from their IB classes, the typical IB learner is far from a passive consumer of knowledge. IB students will eventually learn how to ask thoughtful questions about what they’re learning and how to challenge the way things are in the status quo. The IB Programme actually encourages this mindset for critical inquiry, as IB educators know that critical thinking bolsters students’ desire to change things for the better. IB students can look forward to sharpening their critical thinking skills while in the program, as well as developing the courage and moral fiber to make a difference in the world. 

Curiosity about the World

The internationally minded learners of the IB Programme are fundamentally curious about the world around them. They often seek to go beyond what they know from their families, home communities, home cultures, or home countries. In the IB Programme, students’ curiosity will be piqued even further, and they will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to widen their perspective as global citizens. For students who are deeply interested in learning about histories, cultures, and ways of life other than theirs, there’s no better place to enroll than at an international school with an IB curriculum. 

Willingness to Take Risks

The IB pedagogy is also one that rewards healthy risks undertaken by students. In fact, IB educators embolden their students to go out of their comfort zones and welcome the unfamiliar, knowing that doing so will yield rich learning experiences. Whether it be during a creativity project or during one of the IB Programme’s official assessments, IB learners will build enough nerve to inhabit new roles and to try out different learning strategies for themselves. Students who already consider themselves risk-takers and students who actively want to challenge themselves in a new way are welcome to enroll in the IB Programme. 

Proficiency at Communication

Communication is one of the hallmark values of the IB Programme, and this is evident in the range of language, literature, and media classes offered in the IB curriculum. IB learners are empowered to be good communicators in both their mother tongue and in secondary languages, as well as masters of the different modes of communication used in the 21st century. For substantial learning experiences about language, new media, and information literacy—all of which matter greatly in today’s world—students can look forward to their IB courses. 

Empathy and Understanding for Others

The IB Programme also aims to foster emotional intelligence among its pupils, all of whom come from different walks of life. It’s essential for an IB learner to understand where others are coming from and to develop respect, empathy, and compassion for their fellowmen. The IB curriculum is also designed to impart a sense of community among its students through group activities and opportunities for civil engagement. As a result, IB students learn from a young age that they are not alone in their trials or their tribulations, and that their individual actions can do a lot to improve the lives of others. 

A Strong Sense of Integrity

Lastly, the quintessential IB learner will grow up to be a principled person who puts honesty, integrity, and fairness above all. In the IB Programme, they will be taught the value of taking responsibility for their actions and choosing an honest and self-determined path towards academic achievement. Students and their parents can trust IB schools with overseeing this standard of integrity and making sure that it runs through both academic and extracurricular activities. 

Final Word

Those who want to learn more about the values and principles upheld by International Baccalaureate schools can look through resources like the full IB learner’s profile, speak with educators from an IB-accredited institution, or ask IB graduates about their experiences. What’s important is that students know about the kind of learners they are expected to be while enrolled in the IB Programme, and how an IB education will shape their future experiences as tertiary students, professionals, and global leaders.


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