Every school year brings about great changes to Xavier School. As always, with each year that begins anew, Xaverians tend to take great interest in the possible modifications to the beloved alma matter that they see–or don’t at all. Ranging from miniscule, minor, and barely-noticeable reforms, such as possibly new lighting or air conditioning fixtures to faster internet, to obvious transformations and innovations, such as new subjects, new teachers, and the like, such tweaks affect the entire rhythm and spirit of the school as a whole, engendering the path the school shall take over the course of the year. As with all things, none can escape change, and even the prestigious and celebrated Xavier International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is no exception. Now already on its fourth year, the diploma program continues to evolve– this year the IB sees a two brand-new subjects. In the spirit of developing learners and international citizens, it is interesting to examine the possible effects and promise of these new changes which still stand to be fully put under the spotlight.
“Since it’s a new curriculum, I wanted to try it out,” said Oscar Huang of I.B. Cohort 4 when the Junior was quizzed about why he picked Biology HL, one of the two new subjects in the I.B. program. “I wanted to know more about everyday life and living things,” he added. Biology debuts this year in the I.B. curriculum as an entirely new offering only available as a Higher Level. Taught by new I.B. science teacher Mr. Eugene Quijano, the curriculum aims to develop an awareness and affinity for the aspects and interactions of the living world in students over the two-year program. With I.B. science previously only offering Chemistry and Physics for the previous three cohorts, the new Biology program is a welcome addition to the overall burgeoning XS I.B. program as a whole. When asked about the difficulty of the subject so far, Huang was fairly optimistic. “During H2, the entire curriculum was all about Biology, that basically [has been] so far it has been a review of what we took up,” he said. “It’s more about concepts and terms,” he added, hinting at the relative complexity and concept-heaviness of the subject matter. With now three sciences offered, Huang said he picked Biology, “to find out what makes Bio different,” from the other two sciences– surely an interesting facet to track as Cohort 4 experiences the new subject.
Apart from Biology, English Language and Literature also makes its debut this year. Different from English Literature in that it is more communication and language-focused, the subject matter is popular with Cohort 4 in comparison to the more analysis and text-intensive Eng Lit. “It’s going to be tough at first, especially if you have to write in a new way,” said Junior Axel Lusuan when asked about how he and his fellow classmates are adapting to Lang Lit HL. “In our CRE’s*, especially in H.L., we have to think critically.” At this early stage, the adaptation process is still very much in full-swing due to the high-demands of I.B. English in the aspects of writing, reading, communicating, and interpreting texts. Students are expected to constantly write and be capable of producing full-length essays and commentaries typically in the excess of 400-500 words at the minimum for the shorter ones. Guided by a cast of experienced I.B. English teachers like Ms. Barbara Magallona and Mr. E.J. Legaspi, the students undergoing the Lang Lit program are drilled and hard-pressed to think and analyze texts critically and communicate effectively both in their writing and speaking.
In the two brand-new additions of Biology and Lang-Lit, students of Cohort 4 are experiencing firsthand new and welcome additions to the ever-changing and growing XS IB program. The research-intensive and fact-heavy Biology program has given students the opportunity to further examine the subject matter they have taken up in Sophomore year to greater depths, whilst the communication-intensive and relatively lighter-writing Lang-Lit, when compared to Lit, gives students to develop both all aspects of effective verbal and written communication. With the new changes, it will be ultimately interesting to see how the students in the new program will pan out over the two years. Coupled with an ever-growing cast of experienced teachers and a sophisticated curriculum taught in the spirit of the 6C’s and MAGIS, the prospects ultimately bode well for Cohort 4.