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The IB Experience


  11:50:21 pm, by Nimble   , 863 words  
Categories: Thoughts, People

The IB Experience

When I was going into high school, I had the good fortune (though I didn't think so at the time) of being put into Western Canada High School in the International Baccalaureate program.

I was a bit... "under-challenged" in junior high (though I met two of my best friends ever there :) ) - parents and educators realized that my lower marks weren't due to mental retardation ;) - so they conspired to get me into a program that might challenge me.

There were at the time two schools in Calgary who offered the program. Western Canada was the only one to offer a 'partial' IB program. I was counting on taking only two of a possible six subjects, but to my surprise, ended up taking four (and didn't know until too late that I could have taken a fifth - thought I was doing worse than I was).

They freaked me out when they signed me up in the program, in front of my parents, no less, that I should expect "3-4 hours of homework per night". It turned out not to be that bad, but I'm certain it contributed to an early share of grey hairs.

They do push you hard, though. The curriculum goes off in some odd directions. For example, in Math 20 IB, it's not enough to just tell you the rules of trigonometry... you need to do the proofs. In a later math class, I have some vague, horror-movie-like recollections of doing a proof of integrals with arctangents. Aiieeeeee...!

It was an interesting mix in the school. The IB program was a smaller portion of the population. The school itself is really, really old for the prairies (it had a 100-year anniversary not too long ago), so it is located fairly close to downtown, a mix of rough-and-tumble kids, rich kids (Mount Royal is close by), smart kids, sporty kids. (I wish I knew what happened to Eddie, a guy who looked like he belonged in a band, but was a really decent sort.)

We had a huge collection of trophies around in the school. There were plenty of sports trophies, and plenty of math trophies (!). I was pleased as punch to be part of one of the math teams that got first place across Canada (though I'm pretty sure I was the lowest scorer on that 3-man team :) )

One of the controversies of the time came when the CALM program was being introduced into the Alberta curriculum. Now, a full-time IB student's schedule is absolutely full, I mean, no room at all for anything else. The educational representative got people all up in arms when they proclaimed, "Well, you'll just have to take another year".

Yashail Vora, who had just immigrated the year he went to Western, suffered some massive culture shock. When the teacher came in, he stood up, as he would have at home. Of course, this is Canada - nobody stood up with him. Took him a little while to realize you just don't do that here. To add insult to injury, he got berated by the English teacher for, as far as I can tell, forcing her to look up words in the dictionary.

("Culpable of Perfidy", dude! :) )

Ah well, happy enough ending to that story - he's now a neurosurgeon in Nebraska :)

There were a lot of neat people in the IB program. Some excellent teachers, like Wobick, Ancelin, Politis the Greek (and the one-time giant chalk cloud that billowed out when he once whacked the blackboard), and our favourite fireball French teacher, Mlle Lotvedt.

Due in part to the nature of IB, though, after high school there was a massive diaspora of students, scattering to colleges and universities far and wide.

Years later, in retrospect, though, I am a little shocked at the reclusiveness of IB graduates.

Takes sites like Classmates. If you were to look for IB graduates of 1988 there, you would be hard-pressed. The 10-year reunion was cancelled in light of the upcoming 100-year school anniversary, and when the 100-year anniversary was upon us, nary an IB student was to be found, at least not during the day.

Where are Menwin Gatus, Kristine Sharp, David Ptashny, Michael Buckley, Lorelei Smith?

(Well, I sorta know where Lorelei is :) )

I miss some of those folks.

Parents, be aware. IB will not turn your children into socialites! :)

Now, for bragging rights: IB scores: French:5, Physics:6, Chemistry:7, Math:7

Comment by Bryan Ewert:

Perfidy.. hmm.. you forced me to look that one up. I will vituperate you about that later, young man!

Comment by Ritchie:

I will repudiate your hubris, you outlandish hobbledehoy! ;)

Comment by Adam:

Ok, you finally got me on "hobbledehoy." Dang :) "Vituperate" is an adjective or a noun, but not a verb or a modifier. Saying "I will give you a vituperative scolding later" would work, but I don't think you can legitimately abbreviate it. It's possible to demonstrate "vituperation" to his linguistic sophistication, but frankly that's just clumsy.

Comment by Bryan:

Merriam-Webster supports my verbage - ya know, using a word as a verb - of "vituperate". I know, I know.. Adam will only capitulate when I procure approval from Oxford, but I don't have that particular tome at the ready.


Comment from: wtn [Visitor]  

Hi, I’m looking for Menwin Gatus, he worked on a project of mine in Vancouver, BC in 1998. An excellent developer/architect. If any knows where he is please let me know, I’m looking to re-connect. Thanks.

05/12/07 @ 14:35
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  

That sounds like the same Menwin :)

Haven’t seen hide nor hair of him in the many years since he worked with us. My best guess is that since Taligent didn’t quite work out, he has considered his mission a failure and gone back to his home planet to come up with a new strategy :)

05/12/07 @ 15:26
Comment from: deo gatus suyom [Visitor]
deo gatus suyom

hi i’m looking for my cousin who’s name is menwin gatus.son of my uncle eduardo who was originally from tjhe philippines.are the one i’m looking for???

11/16/08 @ 04:49
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  

*laugh* Do you make your students stand up for you? If so, do you do it by, say, taking away their chairs, or covering their chairs in something from the neurology lab?

Ms. Scott was… a bit of an oddball. I have to say that in my journey through the educational process, I was a little surprised at the sheer inconsistency and odd hangups of English teachers in general. Nothing can compare to the horrible “Socratic Method” English teacher I had in grade 7. Ms. Scott is a minor oddity in comparison, but the “Culpable of Perfidy” story gets good play.

I’d really like to know what happened to a lot of the people in the IB Diaspora. I’ve only got tabs on a handful - I want to know who had great successes and who went bug-nuts :) I heard that Michael Buckley uncoiled a bit, but I have no details, for example.

Yes, that’s The David Ptashny alright - they moved out of New York itself.

Wow, you moved all the way over to Portland? It’s a really neat city. Lots of iffy areas and pretty easy to get lost for the out-of-towner, especially with all the bridges and construction that were there last time I visited, but it’s got Powell’s Books and a pretty classic downtown core.

I had to think about the “why, am I falling apart” for a second because… wouldn’t you know it… nobody asks if they may join me. There are three possibilities: stink, evil, or the fact that I don’t actually sit down for lunch… or anything, really by myself at a table with more than one chair.

04/26/09 @ 04:32
Comment from: Yashail [Visitor]  

Hey Ritchie, enjoyed reading your blog, brought back many memories, “why, am I falling apart” to “may I join you” is classic but no one really got it when I copied that outside of the IB group for some reason. I believe David Ptashny is an investment banker in New Jersey last time I checked. Would be great to connect with fellow IB geeks from our class.

05/25/20 @ 19:45