Education, Modern-Life, Observations.

Is the International Baccelaureate program anti-American?

‘Anti-American’ is an old slur that usually signals a weak argument, and its chronic use raises a larger question: Is the use of the slur itself anti-American?

The New York Times published the story “International Program Catches On in U.S. Schools several days ago, in which they describe how the International Baccelaureate (IB) program has slowly been catching on in U.S. high schools as a college preparatory alternative to the more typical Advanced Placement (AP) program. In the story, the Times points out that there is now an organized opposition to the IB program, who have labeled the program, among other things, as ‘anti-American’ because of its ties to both the United Nations and radical environmentalism.

Defenders of the program point out that while those ties are indeed there, the program is not a rigid espousal of any particular point of view, and that indeed the opposite is true, that the IB program deliberately fosters the development of multiple points of view in a highly rigorous way, and in fact is ‘good pedagogy.’

Additionally, IB’s opponents believe it is too expensive an alternative; its supporters acknowledge that it is somewhat more expensive, and, costs aside, generally do not expect IB to be adopted for every advanced student – the predominant AP program is typically not being replaced, rather IB is being offered as alternative to AP.

Could it be said that the routine and reflexive use of the phrase ‘anti-American’ to stifle ideas and policies that one might disagree with is itself anti-American? After all, the U.S. today is as close to being a truly representative democracy as it ever has been in its short history, and one of the keystones of this representative democracy is the constitutional protection of the freedom of speech, both to allow for rational and critical discussion of issues and policies, and to support the ideal of a fully informed electorate.

The pejorative phrase ‘Anti-American’ too often signals an unthinking demagoguery. I believe this particular use of the ‘anti-American’ phrase falls into that category.  From this article, I take away the idea that despite such demagoguery, the adoption of the IB program is indeed growing in the United States, in a moderate and thoughtful way, which would make it genuinely American.

Thanks to Oliva Hare for pointing this article out to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve the puzzle to post a comment *