Many of you are probably asking yourselves a question whether going to VIII PALO and participating in this whole IB thing is a good idea. Well, speaking from my experience, I cannot recommend it enough. It comes down to two things. First of all, IB is basically as good as it gets when it comes to school curricula. You are given much more freedom when it comes to subjects that you will be studying (you can for example have courses in psychology or economics which is not possible in a regular Polish school). Additionally, you will gain extremely important life skills such as proficiency in English language, critical thinking, and learn how to write scientific essays.
Now you may ask, yeah we know IB is great but why do it in VIII PALO? My answer is that this school really gives you a chance to develop as an individual. Since the classes are relatively small you can easily develop meaningful relationships not only with your peers but also teachers that will help you discover and properly fulfill your potential. Moreover, you will never be left on your own, if you encounter a problem, for sure there will be someone competent to help you. When I reminisce about the time I spent in this school, the first thing that comes to mind is this “family-like” atmosphere. This of course does not compromise the level of teaching in VIII PALO. From my experience, I could not have wished for better teachers, who guided me through the uneasy times of IB.
The IB learning system differs from the standard Polish curriculum in a number of ways. First of all, all classes are taught in English which is – personally – one of the best ways to learn this language. The student has to set himself to read, make notes and talk with the teachers in English. At first, it might seem quite difficult but speaking from my personal experience, it takes approximately one or two months of learning in English, then you begin to think in this language and overcome any fears about fluency and easiness of communication. While speaking about the easiness of communication, I would like to mention the relationship between the student and the teacher. For the whole two years in IB, I haven’t got and I haven’t heard about a situation when a student that was asking for some help was left without it. While being in this school I never felt that I will be left alone in trouble, I always could come to the teacher and ask for help and every time I did so, I was getting this “helping hand” from them. In PALO VIII, it is really the teachers who are for the students and not the other way around.
Looking more at the academic side, I would like to mention that the IB program offers the possibility of choosing six subjects that you would like to study over the next two years. In my opinion, this is an ideal opportunity for precise targeting, which can be very helpful in the future when it comes to choosing your studies and later profession. It’s also a way to choose and learn the subjects we are interested in, without spending time learning the ones we are not interested in or that will not be useful to us. The way of learning various subjects is also a thing worth mentioning. I took Biology and Chemistry on higher-level extension for two years, so I can talk a bit about teaching experimental subjects. Well, unlike other programs, in IB learning Biology, Chemistry, or Physics also involves doing experiments with your own hands. Some of them are conducted as part of the lessons in the classrooms, but most of them take place in a real laboratory, even outside of school hours. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this was unfortunately not possible for some time, but I managed to take a few such classes.
The culmination of all the possibilities offered by the IB department at PALO VIII is the easier possibility to study abroad, but in my opinion, the greatest value of this school is all the open and friendly people who make it up.
IB programme is crucial in developing many useful life skills, which are often marginalized in preparation for Polish matura exam. Those include research abilities, writing essays and academic papers and group work. By doing the IB programme in VIII PALO in Kraków you will be able to learn those and many more competences under supervision of great, international teachers and student friendly principals. Thanks to an individual approach towards each student, there is no fear that someone’s abilities will not be appreciated and developed. At the same time no-one will be left without help with a subject that he or she struggles with. Each year more and more VIII PALO students decide to study abroad and all of them can count on the school’s help with the university application process. Additionally, thanks to IB programme those students who start their studies abroad do not have to struggle with academic English.
IB program develops a completely different approach to learning. Firstly, we consider the world as a whole. The main focus are interactions between different countries and cultures, rather than one country alone. Moreover, IB students are required to analyse current situations which have not been described yet. As an example, in March 2020 we already started talking about the possible pandemic and its consequences. We try to look into the future and be prepared for sudden changes. What I personally love about this program is its focus on creativity and logical thinking instead of learning by heart. What counts is not the amount of information we can remember, but how efficiently we are able to use the knowledge we have.
This program is unique by the freedom of learning it gives to the students. During each subject we work on our own ideas, we explore the topic that interests us the most. As an example, for most of the subjects, students write written assessments called IAs. This means that they choose a topic which is not in the syllabus and do the whole research to satisfy their curiosity. Moreover, a very beneficial characteristic of IB is the unique relationship with teachers. It can be said that it is more like partnership than hierarchy. We can always ask them questions concerning the material, but also other topics like our interests or even problems we face. They are always there to support us.
To prawda, że wolność zawsze wiąże się z odpowiedzialnością, która jest bardzo ważnym elementem nauki w IB. Uczymy się tego, jak radzić sobie z odpowiedzialnością za wyniki projektów i wyniki maturalne. Ten program uczy nas, jak zmienić odpowiedzialność ze stresu w motywację, co przydaje się zarówno na uniwersytecie, jak i w pracy.
It is true that freedom is strictly connected to responsibility. However, this is also a very valuable part of IB. We learn how to cope with being responsible for an outcome of a project, but also our own final grades. This program teaches us how to turn responsibility from stress factor to motivation, which is extremely useful for the university and career.
This school guarantees students a great possibility to meet people from different countries. We learn together, do projects together and participate in exchange programs. Moreover, during IB we learn about different cultures and try to understand different opinions, views and beliefs. Thus, we can get rid of stereotypes, which hide in our subconscious, and open our eyes on the world’s diversity.
VIII PALO is something more than just a school. It is a place where young people work hard towards a successful future, but also evolve and develop their passions and talents. During my studies in VIII PALO, I have met a lot of people who achieved remarkable results in both of their studies and passions e.g. sports. Personally, I had the opportunity to develop my musical skills and perform with my band during some events organized by the school. Therefore, I can boldly say that VIII PALO places great importance on students’ comprehensive development of skills and knowledge, but most importantly supports young and ambitious people to a very high extent.
When someone asks me whether taking the IB program was worth the struggle, I say yes without any hesitation. I am not going to lie that the International Baccalaureate is easy, because certainly, it is not. It requires a lot of self-discipline, but finally brings satisfaction and gives numerous opportunities for the future. While I was studying at VIIIPALO, I worked with wonderful, well-qualified teachers, who were always helping me out and thanks to them, school became my new home. Speaking from my own experience, there were times when the number of bad moments exceeded the number of good moments, but knowing there is always someone to turn to, helped me to keep fighting. Throughout my IB studies, I was not thinking this way, but in hindsight, I know now that the decision to study the IB program in VIII PALO was the best decision I could make. This experience has changed the way I look at the world, the way I think, but most importantly allowed me to fulfil dreams.