Before approval for Shaker to be part of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years program, sophomores will have to participate in the personal project.
This year, 37 sophomores have become the guinea pig group for this project. Instead of an advisory period that is essentially a study hall, these hand-picked groups are working to complete a project on a subject about which they are passionate. Next year, and all the years following, all sophomores will be forced to participate in this project. However, incentive is running low because there is no official “grade” at the end of the process.
Essentially, this project is designed to bring out students’ interests and get them involved in activities beyond school. However, assuming that busy sophomores will take time out of their hectic schedules to sit down and “reflect” on their personal interests is asking a lot, to say the least.
While the project is a nice idea, since there is no motivation to turn in the project and no grade is received, many students will disregard it altogether. Many students personally pursue outside interests on their own time, but the idea of having it forced upon them through school makes such activities much less appealing. Perhaps if it was presented in a different form, students would be more inclined to complete the project.
If many sophomores are barely motivated enough to do their homework, how are they expected to complete an early version of the senior project while still coming to school? At least seniors have time off from school to solely focus on their project. For sophomores, the project is just an extra burden.
This project seems to foreshadow what’s ahead for sophomores in the program and it’s not showing good signs. The discontent about this sophomore assignment may lead to sophomores’ reconsideration of joining the IB Program and possibly the decision to not enroll.
The Middle Years Program is really an attempt to encourage students to get involved in the community, but it seems it may have the opposite outcome.