IB Learner Profile and Quaker Values Come Together

Members of Colette Weber’s IB English class acted scenes for their American Literature reading assignment, “Death of a Salesman.” (Photo by Bruce Weller)

On Tuesday, June 6, junior year IB Diploma candidates will participate in the Viva Voce. Viva Voce is a Latin phrase literally meaning “the living voice.” “By word of mouth” is a more common translation. Students will present the experience of writing the IB extended essay to a panel of adults including the head of school, teachers from several different departments, and staff.

“While the Viva Voce is essentially an exercise in reflection, students float their ideas into the world and must be ready to answer questions about their ideas,” said Colette Weber, head of the English Department. “We are very proud that these students are willing to take such a risk. Risk-taking too is a part of the IB Learner Profile.”

The Viva Voce will bring students and adults together to form a community of learners and knowers. One attribute of the IB Learner Profile is “Open Mindedness,” a trait encouraged in Quaker education. The IB states that students need to be open minded about knowledge claims they encounter. “They will learn not to simply accept claims at face value, but to consider the factual accuracy of any proposition and the potential emotional, social, or cognitive biases of any person making a proposition.” (IB Learner Profile).

Students wrote their 4,000 word essay earlier in the year as part of their classroom assignments. During Viva Voce, students will summarize their work for the panel. They recall two aspects of the process of writing this essay which were challenging and explain how they overcame them.  Finally, students consider how they might approach a similar task in the future. The panel responds with clarifying questions. A discussion ensues with panel members engaging with the student on the subject presented, suggesting different ways of approaching the same problem from the perspective of other disciplines.

The purpose of the Viva Voce is to give students an academic audience beyond the classroom teacher and their peers.