Columnists > Voices

One-world education

Issue: "Endings & beginnings," Jan. 13, 2007

Public schools trying to bolster their academic quality are turning to what they publicize as "AP and IB courses." "AP" refers to Advanced Placement, toughened-up classes that can earn college credit. But "IB" is a different animal. "International Baccalaureate" courses follow a globalist, relativistic curriculum that many taxpayers would object to.

The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the brainchild of British educator A.C.D. "Alec" Peterson, who wanted to develop a standardized global curriculum. Its purpose, in the words of the IBO website, is "developing citizens of the world."

Currently, nearly 2,000 schools in 124 countries-with some half million students-are using the IBO curriculum. This includes 500 schools in the United States, each of which pays the Geneva organization between $5,000 and $9,000 per year. For that, IBO will provide the curriculum, give teachers special training, and even do some of the grading.

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IBO, now affiliated with the UN, has a clear appeal to fans of a one-world government. But why would public-school districts, most of which are required by law to be locally controlled, give up their control to a company in Switzerland?

Unlike the curricular chaos in many of our public schools, the IBO curriculum is well-organized, comprehensive, and interconnected. Farming out assessment responsibilities and setting grading standards all the way in Switzerland gives schools a cover for academic standards. So IB courses probably are academically superior to the usual public-school offerings.

But their content is not much different and possibly worse. "Knowledge," according to IBO's website, "is considered to be an in-depth understanding of significant ideas, not merely the acquisition of facts and skills." And this "understanding" that replaces objective learning consists largely of environmentalism, peace studies, leftist politics, and, above all, multiculturalism.

The IBO goal is the formation of students "who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right." Not just that other people can be right, but that people with differences can "also" be right. At the heart of the IB approach is a view that no actual culture holds truth.

The keystone course for the International Baccalaureate diploma is "Theory of Knowledge." Not "theories," but "theory." While it is fine for high-school students to study epistemology, this is a course in postmodernist epistemology. This theory employs a "hermeneutic of suspicion" that undermines the very possibility of accepting any kind of objective truth.

It does take a certain kind of braininess to convince oneself that it is true that there is no truth, and it is no wonder that major universities-the patrons of postmodernist theory-are impressed with all of the young relativists clutching their IB diplomas.

But this philosophy does not produce a good education; rather, it produces a mindset in which good education is impossible.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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