FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – International Baccalaureate and Montessori

How does the Montessori Philosophy and the IB work together?

Treetops has chosen to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma as it’s core values and goals are in harmony with the Montessori philosophy, and we too embrace them as an IB World School.

  • Both are based upon Method rather than Content.
  • Both promote individual enquiry.
  • Both promote social and community behaviour.
  • Both promote children’s education for peace.
  • Both are child-centred (rather than teacher-centred).
  • Both set high expectations – “all children should be given maximum opportunity.”
  • Both believe in self-discipline and integral sense of purpose.
  • Both have diversity leading to global perspectives.
  • Both promote balance and harmony in the person.
  • Both promote connections between presented separativities.

Tim Sneldin, President of the Montessori Foundation, has written a very informative article on this topic. To read it, please visit http://www.montessori.org/sitefiles/Montessori-IB.pdf

Is Montessori opposed to competition?

Dr Montessori, herself an extraordinary student and a very high achiever, was never opposed to competition in principle. Her objection was to using competition to create an artificial motivation to get students to achieve. She observed that competition was an ineffective tool to motivate children to learn and work hard in school. Montessori argued that for an education to profoundly touch a child’s heart and mind, the child must be learning because they are curious and interested, not to earn the highest grade in the class.

Traditionally schools challenge students to compete with each other for grades, class rankings, and special awards. Students are constantly measured against their classmates, rather than considered for their individual progress. At Treetops, students learn to collaborate with each other rather than mindlessly compete. Students discover their own innate abilities and develop a strong sense of independence, self-confidence, and self-discipline. In an atmosphere in which children learn at their own pace and compete only against themselves, they learn not to be afraid of making mistakes. They quickly find that few things in life come easily, and they can try again without fear of embarrassment.

How much freedom in the classroom do Treetops students  really have?

While the students at Treetops are permitted considerable latitude to pursue topics that interest them, this freedom is conditional and comes with clear responsibilities. Children must be considerate and not disturb the learning of others. Both children and teachers are aware of the work that must be done by each student, covering all areas required in the curriculum. The child is, in fact, not free to do whatever he/she wants but is often free to choose their own sequence from the range of work. Children who have been at Treetops from an early age and whose home environment is compatible with Montessori education, tend to be self-directed in their learning. These children want to learn, and therefore lack of motivation and avoidance is not a problem.

Does Montessori education encourage play as well as work?

Yes! Play is an integral part of learning and children at Treetops have many opportunities each day for creative play. Work and play are not mutually exclusive. Children learn best when they enjoy what they are doing. Often visitors in our classrooms, comment on the children’s intense concentration and the earnestness with which they engage in work. However, the children are clearly enjoying their work. To them it is fun, it is joyful, it is rewarding, it is play.

What about creativity?

Treetops Montessori School has an integrated curriculum which incorporates Art, Music, Sport and Drama. Further, the child’s imagination develops as he/she explores the world through Science, History, Geography and so on. Our education stimulates the imagination of the child and enhances the creative spirit.

Is it true that Treetops students don’t do homework?

In Treetops Middle School children are assigned homework. Every care is taken to ensure that homework consists of meaningful, interesting assignments that expand on the topics that the students are pursuing in class. Homework may also consist of work that should have been completed at school.

Naturally, by the time students undertake the IB Diploma or TCP, homework becomes a necessary component of the course. However, we work closely with our students on time management in an attempt to make them efficient users of their time, hence reducing the amount of actual time spent on homework.

Finally, homework is given in carefully measured amounts. In Primary, children are not expected to spend long periods of time outside school doing academic work. Most importantly, homework should never become a battleground between adult and child.

What is the teacher’s role in a Treetops classroom?

The class teachers at Treetops are  primarily concerned with children as individuals. Their skill is to be an observer while directing each child in the sequential learning process. You may need to look around the room to find the teacher because they are usually working quietly with a child on his/her individual level.

Treetops Teachers:

Respectfully engages the Learner, recognising that their role is not so much to teach as to inspire, mentor, and facilitate the learning process. The real work of learning belongs to the individual child, therefore the Montessori educator remains conscious of his/her role in helping each child to fulfil his/her potential as a human being and of creating an environment for learning within which children will feel safe, cherished, and empowered.

Facilitates the “Match” between the Learner and Knowledge, because they are trained to identify the best response to the changing interests and need of each child as a unique individual and because they truly accept that children learn in many different ways and at their own pace. Montessori educators understand that they must “follow the child”, adjusting their strategies and timetable to fit the development of each of their pupils.

What are the aims of the IBO?

The IBO Mission Statement

“The International Baccalaureate Organization aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end the IBO works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”

What is the IB Diploma Programme?

The IB Diploma Programme is a pre-university course which leads to examinations.

All students complete six subjects, each scored out of seven, plus the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge, which combined earns up to three core points, and Community Action Service (ie max of 45 points.)

How does the IB Curriculum work?

The students who study the IB Diploma Programme must study 6 subjects. Students must study one subject from each of the Groups 1-5, and may choose to either study a Group 6 subject, or to choose a second subject from Group 2, 3, or 4. All students must also complete the requirements for TOK, CAS, and the Extended Essay.

What should a prospective IB learner look like?

You should have some of the following characteristics or be willing to work towards developing these:

  • average or above average ability (top half of the grade)
  • good work ethic/time management skills
  • ability to work across different subject areas
  • enjoy collaborative work practices
  • higher order thinkers
  • interest in Internationalism
  • want to keep career options open
  • want success at University, not just ‘get in’
  • want to impact positively on your world
  • want to challenge yourself against world benchmarks
  • see yourself as being ‘life-long learners’

The IB Learner Profile:

The IBO believes that students who undertake the IB become internationally minded learners who are or become:

  • Inquirers
  • Caring
  • Open-minded
  • Well-balanced
  • Reflective
  • Principled
  • Knowledgeable
  • Critical thinkers
  • Communicators
  • Risk takers

Are there additional charges to do the IB?

Yes, the school charges an extra fee over the 2 year period. This charge covers the registration fee and the examination fees.

Does the IB Diploma Programme satisfy my national requirements for receiving a secondary or high school degree?

Yes, In Australia an IB Diploma is approved and recognised as an equivalent to the traditional state approved Year 12 program (WACE.) The IB Diploma may be used as a means of direct entry to many Universities around the globe. Students who gain their IB Diploma also receive an equivalent Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR.)

Is the Diploma Programme curriculum the same all over the world?

The core requirements are the same but there is room for flexibility. The courses offered by one school may differ somewhat from those of another school.

How successful are IB students in applying to university?

Recipients of the IB diploma enjoy a high rate of acceptance at leading universities. In addition, some universities offer scholarships to IB graduates.

How many examinations do Diploma Programme students take, and when do they take them?

Diploma Programme students generally take six examinations, including one literature course taught in the student’s native language, one foreign language, one social science, one experimental science, one mathematics and one arts course. The arts course can be replaced by a second social science, a second experimental science, or a third language. Students take their examinations at the end of the two-year Diploma Programme; although sometimes they take up to two of their examinations at the end of the first year of the Diploma Programme.

As a standards-based system, the Diploma also offers the opportunity of an exam resit period if students are seeking to improve their initial result.