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International Bachelor education is how to raise citizens of the world (podcast)

Sandra Užule - Fons

Today we are joined by Tomasz Wlazlo, a parent from Poland, who, while living in various countries, was looking for a good international education for his three daughters. We will talk about the challenges and strengths of the International Baccalaureate education programme from the parents’ point of view.

A child’s education plan is one of the most challenging tasks for parents. “We made a decision along with our children a couple of years ago that we would focus on international education and we would not continue only with local Polish education in elementary and high school, because we wanted to give the best education to our daughters in universities outside Poland”, says Tomasz. The family lived in Poland, India and the Czech Republic, where the children were admitted to schools with IB.

The IB programme is based on a transdisciplinary approach to teaching in which the teacher is a guide that inspires students to discover the world. “The approach is related to, firstly, understanding the world, I mean what is going on around us in terms of financial and political reality. Secondly, to hard knowledge, where the student is free to choose a few subjects among a variety of possibilities and options. Here, the teacher is a very important guide, helping the student to adapt particular subjects to their needs” Tomasz says. He then explains that apart from hard knowledge adjusted to the needs and talents of the child you need to understand and interact with the world. “So you need to be conscious of what is going on outside your window. Thirdly, the transdisciplinary approach is related to personal development and creativity aimed at helping others and understanding that not everyone is fully gifted”.

Tomasz gives an example: “It’s obligatory for students to do something to help others. They have projects in which they have to do something for society. For instance, in India they organized some food for poor children, they organized some kind of donations that parents could give to children from families in need”.

International schools have several strengths: comprehensive student development, excellent preparation for adult life, and at the same time they open doors to world universities. In addition, Tomasz emphasizes that diversity, openness, and appreciation for other cultures is one of the most important parts of international education. 

“Believe me,” he says, “my daughters are very open and they have a very good relationship with students from different countries, which is why they understand cultural differences. I mean, If you are kind of nationalist you think that only what you have in your mind and what you were taught when you were young is best. But here you break boundaries and overcome stereotypes”. He adds that due to the international education and family presence in two other countries in India and the Czech Republic apart from being in an international environment, his daughters had changed their minds. “I mean they feel that they’re citizens of the world, they are really international and for them, it’s not a problem at all to think of getting a scholarship and going to Argentina or Korea. After acquiring all this experience I think their adaptability is one of the biggest strengths that they have”, the father claims.

He adds that understanding, an individual approach, and social skills, meaning the child’s openness to others, and also curiosity, which helps the parents find their child’s talents, are the biggest values of international education.

There is an age-old discussion about the division of roles between the school and the parents in the education of children. Talking about what schools should teach and what the responsibility of the parents is, Tomasz underlines that there is no hard border between one and the other, because the two cannot be detached. “I think that parents need to be mature enough to have children and schools to provide education. Do not force your child to do what she or he does not have the skills to do”.

Tomasz also mentions what parents learn for themselves by choosing international education for their children. “In fact, we are super proud that our daughters are so experienced and mature. Above all, it’s an issue of language. Each of them speaks English much better than myself, secondly, they are also quite fluent in one or two other foreign languages, which is another factor, and finally: the approach to learning — project work and cooperation with other people. We think that they are super prepared for future life”, Tomasz concludes.

Listen to our podcast:

International bachelor education: parent perspective (Episode 2)

About the author
Sandra Užule - Fons
Holds Ph.D. in history, journalist, documentary filmmaker. Researcher and author of scientific and other publications about the Baltic States and media. Her professional career started in Warsaw in Polish Public Radio working for more than 10 years as an editor in Polish Radio External Service. She cooperates with media outlets in the implementation of media projects in Central Europe and Post-soviet countries. Currently, she is working on an alternative school project.
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