The modern world is changing at a faster pace than ever before. Students need educational opportunities that meet these needs and prepare them well for the future. Kazakhstan International School (KIS), under the direction of Ole Bernard (OB) Sealey who is the head of school, is doing just this for its students in Almaty.
The most momentous achievement this year is that KIS is also accredited now with the Middle States Association (MSA) of colleges and school, which means in addition to our strong IB curriculum, MSA evaluates and approves the operational and administrative side of the school, ensuring proper function of procedures and policies. With the MSA accreditation, the KIS diploma is authenticated as equivalent to any program in the United States.
We are also implementing a new Math program from Grade 6. This accelerated program allows our students to complete their MYP E-Assessments and enter the Diploma Program with greater confidence and improved problem solving skills.
Almost one year free of pandemic restrictions but the world has continued to change at a very rapid pace, creating new opportunities with technologies and possibilities for remote learning and working. This has created more stress and more anxiety for all of us, students, parents, teachers and staff. KIS has been responding to these challenges to best prepare their students for the world.
The biggest challenge and change this year is the artificial intelligence platform. Some in education argue that years ago Google killed knowledge, and now we don’t need to know as many things because our computers will be able to tell us the things you need to know. The challenge now is that ChatGPT might kill thinking.
This is going to create a need for a lot more critical thinking, requiring assessments within schools that ensure students are able to defend their opinions without simply submitting an essay. Students will need sharp presentation skills, requiring them to defend the thinking behind the research they do, because it’s very possible a computer can be doing much of that for them.
KIS believes it’s going to be really important for us to think about how we are educating people to be successful in the remainder of the 21st century.
KIS excels in the IB curriculum (from the early years up through grade 12), which is uniquely designed to address the most relevant issues students are facing for the intensely connected global community in the new world. The challenges in accomplishing this though are two-fold: academic and social. Academically, students need to understand how they think, what they think, why they think, to be able to identify their biases. Outside of academic challenges though, is wellness. The pandemic has changed the way that we work and school, leveraging technology by using Zoom for meetings and classes. But, in-person human connectivity has been the price paid for this digital communication.
At KIS, we prioritise a strong social-emotional program, ensuring students feel connected to themselves, to their families and to others. Students should not need to be connected to the Internet to have a safe space to grow up in.
As an IB school, KIS provides a program called CAS, which is creativity, activity and service, that perfectly aligns with our ethos and our motto of more than academics. A high priority at KIS is to provide balance for students, and balance is very difficult to achieve within the IB diploma because it’s an intensely rigorous program. But through the CAS program, students have to find creative outlets, whether that’s joining the school play, playing a musical instrument or learning an artistic endeavor like writing or poetry. Activity is also required, which can be hiking or biking, joining a sports team or some of those things. And the most powerful component of CAS is service, the service, which allows KIS students opportunities to make the world a better and more peaceful place, which is part of the IB ethos.
Having high academic standards is the benchmark, but CAS activities provide a soul and a sense of purpose that make the hard work worthwhile, which creates the KIS culture.
KIS is also committed to providing its teachers and staff the inspiring resources and the latest professional development they need in order to provide not only world-class but also holistic education experience. For example, KIS invites experts to come in to help in training with classroom management, curriculum design and development and in assessment. KIS has been able to provide professional development in the classrooms, giving essential feedback for improvement, raising the level of teaching and assessment for all staff.
As a world-class IB school, KIS now has its MSA accreditation and is sending off students to the best universities of their choice in the world. At KIS students don’t have to become someone else, but are enabled to become the best version of who they already are.