Is high school preparing students for life?

Do you feel that high school has prepared you for life?

"Honestly, no, not at all."

"I really wasn’t taught the skills I needed to get myself out there in my career, I had to learn a lot of the stuff on my own."

"I feel like a lot of kids leave school not prepared. There’s a lot of testing and that doesn’t relate to the real world."

 These are commonly heard responses from students in the documentary film Most Likely to Succeed, about the shortcomings of traditional approaches to education in the 21st century. In the film, the students were asked if traditional education succeeds in preparing them for their futures.

Through interviews with students and graduates, the documentary explores how the conventional approach to teaching and learning in school reinforces knowledge, whereas life requires experience. It examines how a traditional school environment doesn’t provide the tangible skills needed in most jobs.

Many are simply unable to give an affirmative answer to the question, "Does a traditional high school education prepare students for life?" 

And this is why ISB doesn’t limit itself to what a traditional high school education may be. 

How ISB Prepares Students for Life

In our High School, we nurture the talents of our students and help them develop their skills through authentic, real-world learning experiences that ensure they are engaged members of society – both during their time at the school and when they graduate.

Rather than focus solely on tests and exams, we define success as a student’s sense of integrity, empathy, and teamwork. Our education prepares young people for achievement and success in whatever future direction they choose.

Incorporates Real-World Context into the Curriculum

One of the most important aspects of education and in the real world is choice – in how and in what we learn.

"Student choice and authenticity make a difference in whether students find work boring and perceive it as just a series of hoops to jump through versus them actually wanting to do the work. Student choice creates the difference between whether students can see work is relevant to their lives and to the world, or whether it just feels like something they have to do for a grade."
         --- Ruth Poulsen, our Assistant Director of Learning

Through the International Baccalaureate (IB), forward-thinking curriculum and co-curricular activities, students not only have choice in their learning, but also the opportunity – and freedom – to explore their interests.

Students across the school take part in work that is authentic, relevant, and engaging. Whether it's helping to understand the big picture through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or leveraging the rich history and amazing context of living in Beijing, students at ISB are connecting with the world around them.

Service Projects

In addition to academics and co-curricular activities, we also encourage our students to get involved in the community.

Through service projects and community groups, students get to pursue their interests and develop real-life skills through learning that utilizes different academic subjects.

Click here to discover why service learning is important to develop the whole child.

Want to see how we are redefining rigor to help in preparing students for life?

Click Here

Teaching 21st Century Skills

The 21st century is one of change and ambiguity, and we continuously review our curriculum, approaches to learning, and facilities to make sure they are equipped to respond to these changes and teach students the necessary skill sets required to thrive in tomorrow’s society.

Skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Information literacy
  • Media literacy
  • Technology literacy
  • Flexibility
  • Leadership
  • Initiative
  • Productivity
  • Social skills

From our curriculum to our facilities, from individual student experiences to our school-wide culture and community, these skills are embedded in everything at ISB.

Click here to discover how our approach to learning is different by design.

Redefining Rigor

In a traditional school environment, rigor is defined as pushing students to their intellectual limits; academics that are exhaustive, demanding, and difficult, a curriculum that ultimately leads to stressed-out students.

At ISB, we’re moving away from the traditional understanding of rigor and redefining it to be embraced rather than feared by our student body.

When we say academic rigor, we want people to understand the difference between difficulty and complexity, to see the importance of student choice, and have access to an innovative curriculum.

"Rigor at ISB sees students interested in solving these deeply complex problems and part of that comes from us providing them with enough authenticity in the way that we frame the tasks and also student choice."
         --- Ms. Poulsen, our Assistant Director of Learning

Throughout a student’s post-secondary experience and career, rigor is experienced within everything they do. This is why we’re committed to enriching our curriculum with a sense of complexity and transferability to equip them with the skills necessary to succeed in their life.

In our new eBook, we explore our mission to redefine rigor and what this looks like at ISB.

Download it free to discover:

  • Our use of cognitive complexity, specifically through our standards and backward design.
  • How student choice is pivotal to student learning.
  • What student choice looks like at ISB.
  • How our forward-thinking curriculum puts our definition of rigor to practice.

image of a tablet with the ebook How We Redefine Rigor

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