The IB has partnered with the University of the People (UoPeople) to address the global shortage of qualified educators. This year, we are funding 140 educators on their way to earning a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree. We hear from Jonassah Schliephake, an educator from Stella Maris School, to reflect on how access to this programme is shaping his knowledge and career aspirations.
“For me, IB is not just an organization or a curriculum, but it is also an educational movement and I am grateful to be part of it”.
One of my biggest passions in life is understanding and supporting people and that is why I chose to study psychology at the university. When I first started teaching at an IB World School, I just did it to learn and gain experiences, but I was not sure whether I should make it my career or not. Throughout my time teaching, I fell in love with this job and decided to make it as my primary career. I have always felt like I want to get better at it while also contributing more to education. For these reasons I determined that teaching is something that I would like to do for a long time.
Teaching using the IB curriculum has been great so far because it encourages me to learn about and use more active learning strategies to educate students in a holistic manner. I have witnessed the great benefits of educating students in that way. In my opinion, what the IB is doing is not a new practice, it is actually trying to reframe a vision of education that we have forgotten. It reminds us of what a true education is supposed to be. For me, IB is not just an organization or a curriculum, but it is also an educational movement and I am grateful to be part of it.
I have been an IB teacher since 2014. I am currently a psychology an theory of knowledge (TOK) teacher at an international school in Indonesia.
What do you hope to learn through your education with University of the People (UoPeople)
“In my study with UoPeople so far, I have gained a lot of valuable and scientific knowledge that can help improve the quality of my teaching”
Teaching is a very complex thing to do because there are a lot of things an educator has to consider, such as the students’ individual differences, their stage of brain development, socio-cultural factors, prior knowledge, current skills, and emotional condition. It is really a difficult, yet rewarding, journey towards becoming a competent teacher. A lot of knowledge is involved when teaching, such as psychology, neuroscience, anthropology and even philosophy. Through my education with UoPeople, I hope to gain a lot of knowledge regarding those aspects, so that I can become as competent as I can to teach my students. I believe studying at UoPeople can help me reach my goal because the curriculum consists of a lot of interesting and valuable courses. In my study with UoPeople so far, I have gained a lot of valuable and scientific knowledge that can help improve the quality of my teaching and I am always excited to apply them in my lessons.
What is the impact of having qualified educators for students?
Like I mentioned earlier, teaching is a complex thing and a qualified educator is someone who is able to teach and adapt according to the level of diversity and challenges that he or she is facing at the moment. Students who are in the hands of qualified educators will experience a rewarding learning journey throughout their school years where they will feel that they are developing in multiple aspects, such as cognitively, emotionally and socially. They will feel that going to school is about discovering, adjusting, and inventing themselves in a holistic manner. Good educators can help students see assignments, projects and tests as tools they can use to improve themselves in a holistic manner, instead of seeing them as merely duties that need to be done just for the sake of doing it. Good educators can also help their students develop what Dr Carol Dweck would call it the growth mindset, which is the belief that skills and abilities are malleable, and achievements are the result of effort instead of just pure talent. Lastly, good educators will enable their students to see how the world needs them and how each of them can help contribute positively to this world for the sake of humanity.
What does this scholarship mean for you?
“Being able to get the scholarship and studying at UoPeople also means that I can study without having to sacrifice my teaching experience”
This scholarship means a lot for me. This means that I am able to study the courses that I have been wishing to study for about one year. I have only been able to stare at the screen and wishing that I could study those courses because they seem so significantly valuable for my teaching development and also because the degree is the result of the cooperation between UoPeople and the IB, since I am also an IB teacher. This means that this scholarship brings me closer to my vision, which is becoming the most competent teacher possible. Being able to get the scholarship and studying at UoPeople also means that I can study without having to sacrifice my teaching experience because I have the ability to choose the time when I want to study the materials and do all the assignments as long as I can meet the weekly deadlines. This is really a great blessing for me.
What IB learner profile traits do you utilize in your teaching?
Though all the IB learner profiles are important, two traits that I utilize a lot are being a thinker and open-minded. The reason why I think that thinker is one of the traits we need to prioritize is because right now we are living in a world full of information and misinformation that students will need to make sense of This is why I think that students need to be trained on how to think critically so that they can develop the ability to distinguish between types of information that have credibility and can be trusted. All information has to be evaluated and re-evaluated. This is why I think that it is crucially important to train students how to think, especially because we are living in a world of information abundance. I want my students to have the ability to use logical reasoning and legitimate facts to support and fight for what they believe in.
Open-minded is the second trait that I utilize a lot in my class. The reason for this is because I want to train my students to seek the truth and not to seek self-validation or suffer from confirmation bias. I am following one of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life, which is, “Assume that the person you are talking to knows something that you don’t”. Though I want my students to seek credible, factual sources to base their ideas around, I also want them to realize that sometimes they can be wrong and biased and that they must listen to other people’s opinions and be as objective as possible. This is because other people can actually help them see the things that they could not see otherwise, which in turn will help them see the truth better. I think both of these traits fold into another one of the traits, which is being a lifelong learner, which means to continue to question and build ideas.
Jonassah Schliephake is currently an IB psychology and theory of knowledge (TOK) educator at Stella Maris School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Universitas Pelita Harapan, Indonesia in 2014. He currently lives in Indonesia. He enjoys sport activities and also spending time at a coffee shop reading books.
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