This is really the 11th hour for the IB2 students – the final exams are VERY close and they should all be working ridiculously hard on their revision – and physics teachers should all be working to help wherever possible.
This final comment does sound a little strange, especially as I am a Head of Physics and have every confidence in the fact that my team of teachers have worked hard for the last 2 years, with a syllabus that remains way too large, and have given the students every chance to do the very best they can, sometimes against the best efforts of the students! However, there is an overriding factor which tends to dominate these issues, which is the dedication of the teachers and their tendency to look for reasons they may not have done everything they could, if the students do not reach their potential. And this year, that is a very real possibility. Let me explain…
The new IB Physics course started in Sept 2014 and is now in the process of finishing its first run-through. The old course was too big – way too big. It was difficult to fit the HL in particular, into the time available – there was certainly no chance of doing much embellishment on the course. Still, a new revision of the syllabus is a real chance to do something good with the course, and teachers have been crying out for it – if the course content was smaller, then then there could be more time spent on sorting out the difficult parts, and if they were not a problem, more time to spend on embellishing the work, and showing students just how amazing Physics could be for their long term future. But no, the course team in their wisdom, made the syllabus bigger – a lot bigger.
I should also point out that the numbers do add up to be the same as the previous course, and the IB course team will say that the ‘numbers do not lie’, however we all know they do! The core and extended core are bigger and the options have been reduced to a selection of 1 from a possible 4. However, there are lots of parts from the remaining old physics options, that have not been lost, they have simply been incorporated into the core and extended core – so now for example, SL students have to know about ‘confinement’, ‘Feynman diagrams’, the Higgs Boson’ and a whole section of particle physics work – which will drive them barmy.
For the teachers, if you are like me, I assess that I have lost 3-4 weeks of revision time compared to the old course. This time is precious and could affect the final attainment. So now is not the time to give in – find the extra questions that the IB have not provided, search AP and A-Level questions banks, get any good questions on Capacitor, and diode bridges, and get them to your students so they have a fighting chance. They will thank you for it (although maybe not out loud!) and then if things go well, you can congratulate the students, and if they do poorly, you will know that you definitely did all you could.