Up in the northern hemisphere, there are masses of snow falling, in some cases, in epic proportions. But in the southern hemisphere summer is approaching. For all of us, the holidays are drawing near. We may have 3 weeks of school left before the students head off, leaving us to our own devices.
So, what do we do? Many of us will spend some time planning. For the coming term, the situation is straightforward for those of us who are experienced IB teachers – this is year 6 in the 7-year cycle so we know the material well. It is a question of reviewing what worked and what didn’t with our previous classes and tweaking the material. Maybe we read one of the numerous new texts on World War I and want to integrate parts of it into our teaching, even if just in summary form. Or, maybe we realized that the last time our students produced IAs they didn’t do so well on limitations in the Evaluation of sources section so we want to integrate a few more source-based exercises into our coursework. This sort of work should be done, but it isn’t always easy to do during the school term. One afternoon during holiday might be the right approach.
However, there is anxiety looming among IB history teachers for the coming year. In Autumn 2015 the northern hemisphere teachers and students will be faced with a new curriculum. At the moment, the information available is limited, and so there is uncertainty. How do we prepare? Will the changes be dramatic? Will we need new textbooks?
Well, it depends. On a curricular level, the topics and HL option sections can remain relatively similar. The IB is doing away with Route 1 and Route 2 – and IB coordinators everywhere are celebrating! The core has been simplified: The Medieval History component is being linked to the 20th century topics. Now, we just have topics. If you were previously covering wars and authoritarian regimes, you may still do so. The topics have been tweaked but the changes are not substantial. However, it is now clear that you must cover case studies from different regions – you cannot get away with only covering Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini; Mao, Castro, Nyerere or Nasser must make their way in to your course of study.
There has been some redistribution of the regional options. If you were doing the Middle Eastern component of Europe and the Middle East, you have been moved yet again – this time to Africa. For the rest of us, our regions are the same, and the number of sections has been expanded from 12 to 18, once again, going back in time to link the Medieval to the modern. If you have been happy examining independence movements in the Americas, you can still do so, and cover indigenous societies prior to 1492 to understand the context of the conquests. The French Revolution is going nowhere – but you can study the Renaissance if you like.
The big change comes with the Prescribed Subject, which is always the case. There are no 5 PS, and they have shifted tremendously. Two are more medieval in their orientation, and then the more modern, 20th century ones have a global, case-study approach which, once again, will demand knowledge and understanding of more than one region. They are linked to the other parts of the syllabi, providing some overlap, but also require a global approach.
So, in terms of content, the main changes are in the Prescribed Subjects; there can be as much – or as little – change in HL as you like and the Topics demand a global approach but you can keep the same topics you previously enjoyed. Relax, and enjoy your break!