The International Baccalaureate (IB) approach applies ten characteristics to describe an IB learner. As an IB World School, at Blair all students, staff and teachers strive to demonstrate the attributes of Inquirer, Thinker, Caring, Balanced, Knowledgeable, Open Minded, Risk taker, Communicator, Reflective and Principled.
This "IB Learner Profile" also demonstrates how the IB approach is about much more than academic success. Each month at Blair one characteristic is highlighted. For April, it is Principled.
Principled learners act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice, and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups, and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.
A unique feature of principles is that, unlike concepts and procedures, they are discovered rather than invented. Principles are the only kind of content which represents "truth" in any significant way. Certainly, facts (which can only be learned on a memorization level) are often either true or false, but they are trivial compared to principles, they are particulars rather than generalities. Also, a procedure can either produce the desired outputs (the goal) or not. But procedures don't provide us with an understanding of how things work, and procedures can often be changed and still produce the desired outputs. Furthermore, there are often several different procedures for accomplishing the same goal.
In contrast, principles provide us with an understanding of the world around us, among us, and within us an understanding of how things happen and why they happen the way they do. Therefore, principles are probably the most important kind of content for us to include in the majority of our instruction. And it is usually helpful to learn how to apply the principles to new situations.
Students who are PRINCIPLED have a sense of fairness and are honest with themselves and with others. They understand that sometimes there are rules and they follow them. They have an understanding of moral reasoning. Here are some ideas for teachers and parents:
- Involve students in deciding on the class rules and expectations and then ensure that they stick to the ones that have been decided upon.
- Encourage students to play and work in teams. Discuss with students the qualities of a team player. What sort of person would they want on their team?
- When a student earns a good score or wins a game, insist that he or she is a well-mannered winner. They might thank their opponent or shake hands with them if it’s appropriate.
- Don’t change the rules or expectations to make a student feel better. Help students to learn how to be a gracious loser. Being a gracious loser is just as important as being a good winner.
- Encourage students to decide the values by which they want to make every decision in life. Suggest picking only a few that apply to every kind of life decision you make, big or small.
- Encourage students to live conscientiously and with great intent, apply those values to everything they do, every decision they make and every interaction they have with others.
- Remind them to be serious about using these values to define every thought, word and deed, and to recognize when they fall short. Encourage them to try really hard not to fall short of their standards again.
- How would it feel to compromise your principles?
- Tell me how [character, or person you know] showed integrity.
- How do you think it made [character] feel to stand up for their principles?
- Do you think it was difficult for [character] to be honest? why?
- What was the effect of [character] actions?
- What words would you use to describe [character] actions? (true, liar, responsible, fair, trustworthy, reliable, principled, loyal, respectful, just)
- How could [character] be more principled?
- How did [character’s] principled behaviour affect others in the story?
- How did [character’s] integrity impact the events of the story?
- Did [character] act fairly and honestly?
- Did [character] they follow the rules? If not, what were the consequences?
- How did [character] feel when things were going wrong?
- What did [character] do to improve the situation?
Blair is an IB World School with three IB programs. The Middle Years Programme is all students grades 6-10. The Diploma Programme is offered for 11th and 12th graders, with the option of pursuing the full Diploma or individual course certificates. In the Career-related Programme, Health Careers Academy students integrate IB Diploma courses with their technical training and other requirements.