It's an attribute that's standard at schools teaching International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes, where students play a more active and involved role in their own learning.
The IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the IB Diploma Programme (DP) form the curriculum framework for the secondary school at Stockholm International School (SIS). The challenging programmes encourage children to take the lead and learn through experience, imbuing them with the skills they need to thrive as adults.
“We're an inquiry-based school, so we set problems and the students look at ways to solve them through their learnings,” explains Paul Boswell, economics teacher and Head of Learning at SIS.
Now entering its 50th year, the IB has become synonymous with producing curious, confident students with a strong intercultural understanding. An IB education has come to stand for a mark of quality, a signpost that flags future success.
One way students achieve their IB Diploma is through Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS). The three strands are integral to an IB education and are interwoven with particular activities which allow them to fulfill some of the criteria to achieve their diploma.
“Students need to demonstrate these three things,” says Boswell. “It could be by doing something traditionally creative like making a movie, or coming up with new ideas.”
One shining example of CAS in action at SIS is the school's Model United Nations (MUN). It's one of several strong student leadership programmes at SIS, and among the reasons it was hand-picked to feature in ‘A Better World Through Education', a promotional video produced by ITN and the IBO to mark the latter's 50th anniversary.
ITN Productions spent a day filming SIS's Model United Nations in action.
Intended to simulate the real UN, students that take part in SIS's MUN debate and develop solutions to global issues like climate change, economic development, and global energy requirements. It helps pupils recognise their common humanity and figure out how to thrive in a complex and conflicted world.
“The students pretty much manage the whole thing,” says Boswell.
He explains that SIS's MUN doesn't just operate within the school but also takes the lead at Scandinavian and Europe-wide Model United Nation conferences.
“Our students handle all the communication with students from other schools and pick the themes they want to debate. They're given certain tasks, for example, some are ambassadors, some are judges, and others chair the meetings.”
It's hard work and can be very challenging, but Boswell says it has a noticeable effect on the children that take part. Not only do they develop a more global mindset, they also improve certain soft skills that will come in handy whatever they chose to do in the future.
“The kids gain so much more confidence through writing speeches and public speaking. They're so well spoken with so much communication savviness, if you close your eyes and listen you would think they're adults!”
All the more impressive when he adds that most of the children at SIS speak English as their second language.
And the students' involvement with the MUN certainly isn't something that's sniffed at by university admission officers.
“Universities definitely look for it,” says Boswell. “It's a firm example of demonstrating student leadership, and shows the kids are able to initiate, communicate, and work in groups. A lot of these buzzwords come in handy on a university application.”
Along with the other teachers at SIS, Boswell is incredibly proud of the students' hard work with the MUN and sees it as a testament to the efficacy of an IB education.
“We don't just talk the talk, we actually do these things. Any child doing the MUN will be pushed. Through this experience the students really do gain the skills to be the leaders of tomorrow!”
This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Stockholm International School.