The Invisible Line

(Vikram Suresh, Ishaani Maitra)

I don’t know about you, but the Cold War was one of my favourite topics in History – I just found it so intriguing, the way in which the USA and USSR were pretty much in a war without actually fighting. It was so tense, in fact, that Winston Churchill famously called it an ‘iron curtain’. It’s a good thing I was paying attention that class, because that really got me thinking about my own IB life. I’ve got around 80 fellow IB-ers in my grade – except that I haven’t! It only struck me a week ago, when our college counsellor said that there were 110 kids in our grade. I mean I didn’t remember 30 new kids joining in like 2 months, so my first impression was that she’d managed to mix up our grade and the guys below us.

For those of you who actually want a solution to this gripping mystery: CBSE. I’ll be pretty frank here – it took me a good three days to figure out that she’d ‘included’ the CBSE kids when she was counting. Which is weird, actually, because the CBSE class happens to be bigger than any of our IB classes but we never take any notice of their existence. They’re in 12th grade too, I can assure you there’s no doubt there, but I always thought of them as a different 12th grade: those were the ‘12CB kids’ and we’re the ‘IB2’ kids. OK, I’ll also admit that I’ve only really thought about CBSE twice in my life, but I think you get the point.

A tale as old as time

So why is that? Why is there this huge divide between CBSE and IB? It really is an iron curtain, because there isn’t anything different about us other than which Board exam we’ll all be writing in a year’s time. The most obvious reason is that I’m at fault (though I certainly don’t want to admit it!). I always had this misconception of CBSE being somehow inferior to IB, just by association. ”Oh, you take CBSE? Why I am even talking to you? You’re not even in my league”. We IB-ers do have an undeniable superiority complex, mainly because we think of ourselves as the elite who look down on those pesky CBSE peasants. Of course, it’s all in the mind – both IB and CBSE ultimately serve their purpose of giving you an education – but since so many us have made the IG choice an we like to defend our choice, the CBSE education must of course be inferior.

But then again, do you know why exactly we think so lowly of CBSE? I think I can answer that one too: basically, anyone who studies CBSE will be promptly shipped off to India for uni, no questions asked. But IB? You could probably study in Antarctica with an IB qualification. The funny thing is that we’re all pretty much completely wrong here as well. There are plenty of CBSE kids who make it into the UK, and once you get to IB, you’ll realise that every single uni that comes to give one of their ‘talks’ will have an offer for CBSE kids too. The truth is that CBSE is a qualification that’s based on the Indian curriculum, while IB is a qualification that’s based on a more international curriculum. But we IB-ers all seem to think that this means all the CBSE kids are destined to some unknown rural university in India while we’ll get into Cambridge and Oxford without even breaking a sweat

What CBSE looks like in the resource room

There’s also a pretty significant curriculum gap, and once again we’re proven wrong. Objectively, CB is probably way harder than IB because there’s just so much content to learn. You know, I went crazy when I figured out that IBY2 had staybacks every single day of the week – until I figured out this was the norm in CB. And to add to that, they have class for 5 hours straight every Saturday! All the fun that you could have on your Xbox during the weekend – gone. I mean there’s nobody who seriously thinks, after all, that IB is harder than CB content-wise. So we IBers resort to the old superiority trick – ‘CB is just mugging up’. After all, our parents did it, and that’s all they seem to say. It’s so easy to forget how different the education system they went through decades ago is different from where CB is now. And finally, one thing that isn’t entirely wrong – the exams in CBSE are pretty straightforward, while I’d be inclined to believe that IB examiners are sadists who want to mess with the innocent minds of young children. Right there, we’ve found another reason that CB is supposedly inferior – in IB, we’re all so much smarter because we get tougher questions. I don’t think it ever crossed our minds though: surely CBSE kids, who have so much more to learn, are smarter? At the end of the day, do we even know enough to guess?

Ultimately, this finger-pointing is entirely useless because I think we need to bridge the gap here and get together with our CB friends. I used to know so many people in 8th grade who vanished from my life in an instant because they chose CBSE. And now that I think of it, it’s really sad. Wouldn’t you love to get back with your friends too?

High School Mentality

What can we do? That’s the million-dollar question, and to be honest with you, I don’t think I have a good answer. Now if you thought all this build-up was because I have some genius solution, just hang in there. At the end of the day, the school could make us do P.E. together or something. If, there’s one thing both IB and CB loves it’s football. Maybe, like the rest of the world, we can bridge our divides on the field. But if this became an institutionalized harmony project, I’m positive that we’d all just stick to our friends group and nothing would change. Unless a difference arises out of choice, it will not stick. Forgive me for including this cheesy quote in here but I must: be the change you wish to see in the world. It isn’t really the school’s responsibility to do anything if you, as an IG/IB student, don’t really care about your CB peers. So you want to know what the best solution is? Extend your hand of friendship, and they’ll extend theirs. Let’s break down the NPS Iron Curtain.

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