This blog was written by David M. Smith – Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School

What is in store for you as you embark on one or two years of IB History? Let’s look at some of the features of this course to give you a better idea what you have signed on for.

The first thing to understand about IB History, indeed any IB course, is that it values depth over breadth.  In other words, it doesn’t just want to stuff more dates and names into your head.  Instead it seeks for you to gain a deeper insight into the six major concepts in the study of History: change, continuity, causation, consequence, perspective, and significance.  There will be dates and names to be sure, but only insofar as they help us understand those concepts.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the “I” in IB is very important.  International doesn’t just refer to where the IB is taught.  More importantly it refers to what IB is teaching.  In history, this means that we take a comparative approach. We want to examine those concepts of history and compare these across different countries and regions in the world.  How did the consequences of the First World War in Germany differ from the consequences in Canada?  How were they the same?

A helpful way to understand IB’s approach to history is by using a tool known as Bloom’s taxonomy.  Bloom’s taxonomy is a hierarchical model for classifying learning objectives. There are several versions of the model, but for our purposes we will use this one:

Generally speaking, each level is dependent on the previous level being reached.  For example, before you can understand something, you would need to remember it.  To apply a concept, you need to understand it.  In an IB History course, we need to move and stay above the understanding level.  We need to live at the applying, analysing, and evaluating level.  When we put our learning together, for example in an essay or the Historical Investigation we hit the creating level.  As you can see, simply memorizing names, dates and facts will not be enough, nor will telling a narrative of an event – the study of history is not just stories.  We need to continually climb higher on “Mount Bloom.”

Want to get ahead in the IB? Attend a Pre IB Summer School in Oxford, UK or Boston, US to meet students from all over the world and be taught by world-class IB teachers.