'The Why in life'

Simon Sinek has examined through his book the reasons that companies and individuals are very successful and is able to sustain this success. He argues many companies flourish because they do not lose track of their purpose and original goals. He calls this the “Why?” of what they are doing. He uses the example of Apple computers as an example of a company that understands the Why? as it is in Sinek’s words “Challenging the Status Quo” and is prepared to see things from a different perspective. In contrast many companies try to see how they can gain market dominance and what products they need to achieve this, but lose track of their original purpose.

Sinek presented this in a simple way as the Golden Circle with the why? at it’s centre.

The why? for the IB Organisation lies in the values of the organisation presented in the IB Mission statement and IB Learner profile. IB schools and their staff should be focused on the Why? of the IB which is found in the

Mission statement:

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end, the organisation works with schools, governments and international organisations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

(Education for a better World, IB Organisation Geneva 2013)


In what ways do you think that the IB Mission statement shapes you as a teacher?

What implications do you think the Mission Statement has for your students?

The IB Learner profile provides us with concrete set of values that all members of the IB Community aspire to develop.

As IB learners we strive to be: 

We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.

We develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines. We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance.

We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.

We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups. 

We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.

We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.

We show empathy, compassion and respect. We have a commitment to service, and we act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around us. 

We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and cooperatively to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.

We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives—intellectual, physical, and emotional—to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependencE with other people and with the world in which we live. 

We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development. 


Rate yourself out of 10 for each attribute (10 being your strongest attribute (s)

Which do you think is your strongest attribute?

Which attribute do you think is the one you must develop the most?

The IB programmes (PYP, MYP, IBDP and IBCC) can be seen in this way:

The Values of the IB are presented in the following documents:

  • Mission Statement of the IB.
  • The IB Learner Profile.
  • Research papers on “International Mindedness”. (This identifies three uses of the term:
    • Language proficiency in more than one language.
    • Global Engagement
    • Inter-cultural understanding
  • The standards and practices of the IB.

These indicate the why?

How can students use their second language in your course?

What global issues do you pursue in your course?

How do you think your course promotes inter-cultural understanding?

The skills to be developed by all students through the Approaches to Learning and Teaching.

The five skill areas of Learning for all students are:

  1. Thinking skills (critical thinking, creativity and reflective thinking)
  2. Self-Management
  3. Research Skills
  4. Communication (different languages, digital, oral, written)
  5. Social Skills

It is likely that you will be facilitating many of these skills already in your day-to-day teaching. During the workshop your leader will identify the ATLS relevant to the course you are attending.

In these workshops Knowledge will be provided from the leader of your course, the subject guidelines and of course from your fellow participants. There will be knowledge shared of assessment tasks relevant to your subject and the criteria used in exams and internal assessments to mark work.

The IB Diploma Programme is presented as an integrated whole with the ATL’s and Learner Profile underwriting the whole programme. The core is presented as being joined to each other and supported by the academic subjects.

Can you draw your own model of the IB Diploma highlighting links you see in the programme in the school where you work?

What differences do you see between your model and the one that the IB has?

Coherence within the core:

In the most recent documents produced by the IB, the three elements of the core (TOK, CAS and the Extended Essay) stress that all are bound by a need to be reflective:

Being reflective is one attribute of the IB learner profile.

We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.

The other links between the elements of the core are that they:

  • Develop a sense of International-Mindedness
  • Facilitate personal awareness and development
  • Support the academic subjects and are supported by them.

The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Course:

TOK focuses on answering the question “How do we know?” something. It helps students to critically analyse the ways in which they gain knowledge (ways of knowing) and also looks at knowledge frameworks. In the Knowledge frameworks they examine the ways in which knowledge is derived in broad subject areas. They consider the scope of subjects, the language used and the methodology used within the area of knowledge. Students have to critically analyse the ways in which they acquire knowledge and answer knowledge questions. CAS can also provide students with knowledge and provide real life experiences that form the basis of TOK discussions. The knowledge framework from TOK can provide a useful basis for approaching the Extended Essay.

In your course you will follow an exercise that will highlight the relevance of TOK to your own subject area.

Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS)

This is the experiential part of the IBDP, that is mandatory for all students to be engaged in It allows students to pursue challenging interests outside of the classroom and also to work with their school, local or international communities in helping to meet needs of the communities. Students are expected to be involved in CAS for 18 months of their diploma course CAS encourages students to develop a balanced lifestyle by being actively involved in sport and or other forms of regular physical activity. In addition, students are encouraged to pursue creative pursuits something, which may not be possible in a highly academic course.

CAS is meant to give the students some fun!

Students are expected to learn from reflecting in a number of different ways on their experiences. They are required to keep a portfolio, which includes their reflections, evidence of their experiences and a personal profile.

CAS experiences may be derived or motivated by themes pursued in your academic course (this is a key characteristic of service learning). These experiences may lead to a student writing an extended essay on a world studies essay.

The Extended Essay

The extended essay is an individual research work of 4000 words normally carried out in one of the academic disciplines that the student is studying. It can however, be an inter-disciplinary essay and focus on a global issue. These are called World Studies Essays. Students are expected to reflect on the research process that they used to undertake the study. This reflection forms a part of the assessment process.

The Extended Essay will be explored in your subject workshop.