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"Issues and Action in Education"

The International Baccalaureate Curriculum

by Allen Quist

 An e-letter produced by EdWatch, a nonprofit organization. 

Posted on March 20, 2007

        Critics of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program often say that IB is "un-American." IB supporters, on the other hand, say that participating schools can write their own curriculum, so the content of the curriculum is really up the schools -- not the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). In this ongoing debate over IB, who is right? (The IBO website says that IB is now in 680 American schools.)
IBs Core Curriculum Requirement
        Can IB schools write their own curriculum? IB schools can write their own curriculum so long as the beliefs and values of the curriculum agree with the beliefs and values of IB. The philosophy of IB must be incorporated into the schools core classes.

        When schools adopt the IB program, they agree to the following stipulations:
Program Standards and Practices:
Section A: philosophy
Standard A1: There is close alignment between the educational beliefs and values of the school and those of the [IB] program.
  • 1. The school is committed to the principles defined in the IBO mission statement.
  • 2. The school is committed to developing in students the qualities, attitudes and characteristics described in the IB learner profile.
  • 3. There are clear and close connections between the school's published statements of mission and philosophy, and the beliefs and values of the [IB] program.
  • 4. The beliefs and values that drive the [IB] program are shared by all sections of the school community (including students, teachers, administrators, members of the governing body and others, as appropriate). [ Program standards and practices, International Baccalaureate Organization, Geneva, CH-1218, Switzerland, Published September 2005 by the International Baccalaureate Organization.]
         Notice that in the IB "Standards and Practices" quoted above, the words "beliefs and values" are used three times. One has to be impressed by this extraordinary emphasis IBO places on requiring that member schools teach its beliefs and values. IBO leaves no doubt about requiring its schools to teach the guiding philosophy of IB. This heavy emphasis additionally raises the question: Is IB primarily about education? Or is it more about indoctrination?
What are the "beliefs and values" of IB?
         IBO insists that its beliefs and values form the core of the IB curriculum. IBO calls its curriculum "the best possible curriculum to be enjoyed by all who participate". What is this curriculum? The same paragraph in which IBO claims to have the best possible curriculum also clarifies that the essence of the IB curriculum is teaching students "those human values which are recognized as universal; these are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, [as stated in Article 26] adopted and proclaimed by the General assembly of the United Nations in 1948" [A Continuum of International Education, published by IBO, p. 10, all emphasis in the original].
        That is, IBO says its curriculum is "the best possible" for two interrelated reasons: (1) The IBO curriculum focuses on the beliefs and values it says are universal. These beliefs and values are seen by IBO, therefore, as being superior to the parochial beliefs and values of mere nations that are less than universal. That is, IB believes that it teaches the universal beliefs and values which are superior to the limited beliefs and values of the United States.
        And (2) IBO says its curriculum is "the best possible" because IB teaches the beliefs and values of the UN as defined in the UNs Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR]. This UN document specifically requires supporting nations to promote all the activities of the UN in its education program [UDHR, Article 26.]. This means that IBO is committed to teaching the beliefs and values contained in numerous UN treaties and accords the United States does not support such as Kyoto, the UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child, the Earth Charter, Agenda 21, the Biodiversity Treaty and many others. (IBO formed a partnership with UNESCO in 1996.)
Teaching the Beliefs and Values of IBO
        As mentioned above, IBO requires member school to teach its courses from the IB point of view. This requirement is clearly stated in the Minnesota School District # 6078 federal grant application, which says: "Units will ... integrate IB philosophy and concepts into core content curriculum." [p. 70]
        The IB curriculum in A.C. Flora High School in South Carolina illustrates how the IB values are incorporated into math and language classes. A.C. Flora describes its IB curriculum as follows:
At A. C. Flora the French classes have continuously integrated global concerns, such as pollution, endangered species, health issues (obesity, aging, AIDS, cloning), space research, human rights, and the death penalty...
One wonders how much French IB students are learning when they are studying AIDS and the death penalty. A. C. Flora describes its math curriculum as follows:
Math Studies curriculum explores problems concerning the weather, environmental protection, conservation, and energy. . . The statistics unit will examine a variety of problems from a global perspective, such as the disparity of wealth distribution between first and third world countries.
How much math are students learning as they study wealth distribution? (They are actually learning Marxist ideology in math class.)  IB Latin looks like this:
In Latin, [at A. C. Flora] an ancient language, students will examine the ancient world as a sounding board to measure and compare the global issues in a modern world. Students will discuss the impact on the Roman world, as well as their own, of such topics as womens rights, slavery, and national imperialism.
(A.C. Flora High School described these classes in the 2002 IB Introductory Seminar given in Danvers, MA. These classes were said to be "designed for schools from around the world interested in becoming part of the IB Program." That is, IB held up this A. C. Flora curriculum as a model IB curriculum.)

        When students are studying "wealth distribution" and "national imperialism," they are not learning much math and Latin. The United States is treated as an "imperialist" country by IB, of course, and is compared to Japan during World War II. The main concern about IB, however, is this: When the beliefs and values of IB are even taught in math, French and Latin classes, as well as in every other class, it becomes abundantly clear that IB is more about indoctrination than about education. Indeed, at numerous points IBO says that its purpose is teaching the beliefs and values that create students who are "world citizens." IB leaves no room for doubt about the nature of its curriculum.

        To ensure that that the IBO-UN beliefs and values are adequately indoctrinated into its students, IBO and the UN are now writing their own textbooks and other materials. The IBO website states:
The Global Teaching and Learning Project of the UN in New York accepted an IBO tender to produce two teaching booklets about UN global issues. ... The project has been undertaken by the International Baccalaureate Curriculum and Assessment Centre in Cardiff using experienced curriculum writers from around the world, principally in IB World Schools, and having UN input and approval of the 20 units completed. They will be copyrighted by the UN, with acknowledgement to the IBO for its work, and disseminated to the governments of all member states for use in schools. The content of the booklets reflects the structure and philosophy of the IB programs ...
Undermining the Beliefs and Values of the United States
        IBO not only teaches its own worldview, it simultaneously undermines the beliefs and values of the United States (also called the "American creed"). And what are the beliefs and values of the United States? They are stated in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. The American creed includes national sovereignty; universal truth; the equality of all persons; God-given, inalienable rights of life, liberty and property; limited government; free enterprise; natural law; rule by the people; constitutional government and other related values and principles.
        It is important to understand that the American creed says its principles are true not only for Americans, but are also true and right for all people. The principles are universal.
        It is this universal nature of the American creed that is consistently undermined by IB. That is, IB teaches that our creed may be acceptable to some Americans, but it does not contain universal truths and values that are good for all Americans and certainly not good for other nations. The IB curriculum, for example, makes the following accusation against free enterprise:
Both Democrats and the Republicans supported a more or less unrestrained capitalist system. They believed that it offered unique incentives to hard work and opportunities for all -- even though there was plenty of evidence that it left many people very poor and a few grotesquely rich. [IB History of the America: Politics Old and New]
        This IB description means that Americans may think of free enterprise as being good for all people and nations, but it is actually only good for some people and nations while it is bad for others. Free enterprise is not a universal value according to IB. In contrast, IB says that it teaches values that are universal. This theme -- that our beliefs and values may be good for some people but not for everyone, while IB provides the universal beliefs and values -- is the unifying theme around which the IB beliefs and values are constructed.

The American Creed versus the IBO-UNESCO Creed:
         How different are the American creed and the IBO-UNESCO creed? The following table describes some of the differences:
  UN-IBO   U.S.A.  
Right to bear arms No Yes
No double jeopardy No Yes
Church & state separation   No Yes
Limited government No Yes
Reserved powers No Yes
Natural law recognition No Yes

        There are other significant differences between the American creed and that of IBO-UNESCO. For example, our Constitution guarantees that a persons property cannot be taken by government without just compensation. IBO-UNESCO has no such guarantee.

        The biggest difference between the American Creed and that of IB-UNESCO, however, is this: Our Declaration of Independence states that government exists to protect the God-given, inalienable rights of all persons. The Tenth Amendment to our Constitution restates the same doctrine as follows: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution ... are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." That is, human rights belong to the people, and government has only those rights given it by the people. Our rights have higher standing than government.
        The UN and IBO, in contrast, subscribe to the exact opposite view of human rights. The UNs Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR] says: "These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations."  [UDHR, Paragraph 29, Article 3]
        This means that under the UDHR, people have only those rights the UN says they have. But under the U.S. Bill of Rights, government has only those rights the people say it has. UN-IBO turn human rights on its head, and it takes the same view of human rights as, for example, the constitution of Cuba, which says that Cubans have freedom of speech -- as long as their speech conforms to the wishes of the government of Cuba.
IBO and Multiculturalism
         IBO frequently says that its curriculum is organized around "multiculturalism." IBO defines multiculturalism when it says, "These programmes encourage students ... [to] understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right." IBO means that the American creed may be right for many Americans, and the Iranian creed may be right for many Iranians, but the IBO creed is the universal creed that is right for everyone.
        Every subject in the IBO curriculum is taught from this same unifying perspective. Students are asked "to be familiar" with their own "traditions," including their own history, government, religion and the like, but students are taught to view these subjects as merely their own cultural "traditions," while other countries see and do things differently. No country's traditions may be seen as superior to the traditions of any other nation. They are all equal and limited to their particular culture. IBO, in contrast, provides the beliefs and values that are universal and, are, therefore, good for everyone.
        Following this theme, IBO defines its multicultural Theory of Knowledge (TOK), which it says is at the core of its curriculum, by asking: "Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?" and answering: " 'Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.' [Mahatma Gandhi]." (The Learner Profile, Slide # 17) The point being that Americans may be right in calling some people "terrorists," while Palestinians may be right in calling the same people "freedom fighters," but both the American view and the Palestinian view are of little importance because they are limited to being right only in the postmodern sense of reflecting the traditions of their own cultures.  IB, however, transcends particular cultures and believes it views such matters from the perspective of universal values.

        The issue of the IB curriculum is not primarily a matter of the subjects being taught. The question is not, for example, whether the U.S. Constitution and U.S. history are taught -- the question is how they are taught. Are the beliefs and values of American history and the Constitution taught as containing universal truths and values and being, therefore, good for everyone? Or are they taught as being good for some but not others? And, are the beliefs and values of IB-UNESCO promoted in the classes as superior to the beliefs and values of the American creed? These are the questions we must ask.
A Student's Experience
Given the reality of the IB curriculum, one IB student described his literature class this way:
... literary merit wasn't in the mind of those who created the reading lists in my IB English classes; multiculturalism and gender concerns were. After reading some Shakespeare and Dickens's classic Tale of Two Cities, our dead-white-guy quota was just about full. So, instead of Plato's Republic we read Ngugi wa Thiong'O's Weep Not, Child; instead of Catcher in the Rye we read Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony; and instead of Dante and Cervantes we read Soseki and Rulfo. ..

Western classics that form the foundation of our literary canon The Sun Also Rises, The Grapes of Wrath, The Scarlet Letter were absent. So, too, the poetry of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Literature that had stood the test of time was sacrificed for contemporary works that addressed immediate cultural or feminist struggles. ...

And it's particularly disgraceful to forgo teaching such important works because of dubious diversity concerns. This was not the core knowledge I had been promised.
Undermining Christianity
         IBO also attacks Christianity. "Christianity" is defined by the author in the usual sense as those organizations or persons who adhere to the Ecumenical Creeds of the Christian Church and who believe Christianity is true in the universal sense (not in a postmodern sense of being only true for Christians or Westerners). This definition is necessary because IBO lumps Christianity as defined above into the category of what it calls "fundamentalism" -- along with the Taliban and various terrorist groups, saying that these "fundamentalist" groups are all "dangerous." It would be difficult to imagine a more clear, and repugnant, attack on Christianity.

The Religion of IBO
         While IBO undermines Christianity, it also advocates its own religion. IBO promotes the worldview of New Age-Pantheism guru William Butler Yeats (see the link just above). Another New Age leader, Joseph Campbell, is often required reading for IBO students. Like Yeats, Campbell aggressively promotes "inclusive" New Age-Pantheistic doctrines while undermining Christianity.
        Campbell argues that New Age religion provides the universal doctrines of the unifying world religion. He argues that no religion which claims exclusive truth should be followed -- the position of IBO as noted above. Truth, says Campbell, can only be found in the common themes of all religions -- which gives us a common world religion -- exactly what IBO desires.
        IBO also teaches the beliefs and values of the Earth Charter.* The Earth Charter requires schools to engage in what it calls "spiritual education"; and how is spiritual education defined? Spiritual education is explained by the numerous religious symbols on the "Ark of Hope" which houses the papyrus copy of Earth Charter and is promoted by the Earth Charter website. These religious symbols, without exception, are New Age-Pantheism symbols. The Ark of Hope website describes the Ark of Hope as being decorated with the symbols of " 'Spirit' that honors the children and young animals of the world" (Pantheism).
        The Ark of Hope is an antitype of the Ark of the Covenant. It is often carried about by priestesses in long flowing white gowns. When not on tour, it often resides in the Temple of Understanding in New York City, a temple the UN Chronicle headlines as being the "Spiritual United Nations." [Spring, 2000, edition]
        IBO subverts Christianity while at the same time advocating New Age religion -- a clear violation of the separation of church and state. This is not a problem for IBO, however, because it does not recognize the separation of Church and state. Both Christians and non-Christians need to be concerned about IBO religious indoctrination because IBO is inculcating New Age-Pantheism in all its students, not just Christians. (When IBO speaks of teaching "beliefs and values," it clearly includes religious beliefs and values as part of the mix.)
 So Does IBO allow schools to write their own curriculum?
            IBO schools can write their own curriculum in the same sense that Cubans have freedom of speech -- you can say anything you want so long as it agrees with the party line. This party line is really all that matters to IBO.
*For public relations reasons, IBO had itself removed as a signator of the Earth Charter in 2006. IBO stills teaches the beliefs and values of the Earth Charter, however, and is committed to doing so by its subscription to UDHR, Article 26. The beliefs and values of IB have not changed.

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