Adventures In IB: History of the Americas

October 13, 2020
Understanding Today through the Lens of History


Enter any American history classroom, and you’ll learn when the Mexican-American war started, what the primary causes were, and who was involved. But walk into Purcell Marian’s International Baccalaureate History of the Americas classroom, and you might find students holding debates about the fairness of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

That’s because IB demands students take a comparative and multi-perspective approach to history. They ask students to understand that the causes, impact, and aftermath of the war between Mexico and the United States in 1848 differ depending on the perspective you adopt -- be it that of Mexico or America.

IB History courses provide a balance of structure and flexibility as they examine various aspects of history, including political, economic, social, and cultural factors. Students face the challenge of researching their position and defending it with evidence from primary sources.

IB challenges students to make broad connections between what they are learning and today’s world. The aim is that "students come to understand cause and effect, that historical events are not isolated in time but are connected to what came before and influence what comes after. They are expected to ask questions, engage in open dialogue, debate various points of view, and reflect on what they’ve heard. There are multiple opportunities for students to shine.”

When demonstrating mastery of the subject, students must apply prior knowledge and demonstrate an understanding of historical events. Purcell Marian IB History of the Americas teaches students to analyze diverse texts and cite multiple primary sources.

IB History of the Americas stresses the importance of critical thinking in pursuing factual knowledge; this approach values understanding multiple interpretations of history. Students don’t take multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer tests. Successful students formulate arguments, evaluate different perspectives, synthesize information from relevant sources, and compose essays that respond effectively to the questions. One component of the assessment at the end of the course is a historical investigation into a topic of the student’s choice.

Perspectives on the New Adventure: IB Diploma Candidates
Five Juniors have chosen to undertake the rigorous IB Diploma Program (DP) and will take the six IB classes plus the three IB Core components over the course of the next two years. We asked them what excites them about IB History.
What challenges are you looking forward to facing?
“I think this class will ask me to look at things with a broader view, which can be hard if you learned something a specific way.” - Josey
“Learning about history from many perspectives and really diving into it.” - Rami
“I am looking forward to being challenged to think differently and to explore all corners of our history.” - Charisma
“Time management, and having historical claims and backing them up with historical evidence.” - Brandon
“I will probably have to take a risk with an almost completely new way of thinking.” - Rami
What advice do you have for freshmen or sophomores considering taking the class?
“Stay organized and never be afraid to ask questions.”  - Josey
“If you are ready to push yourself further and face more difficult challenges in regards to your education, I would say to go for it.” - Charisma
“Go for it!” - Kayla

International Baccalaureate