CREATIVITY ! ACTIVITY ! SERVICE ! — CAS, What exactly is it ?

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CAS makes up a core element of the IB diploma. IB students (years 12 and 13) are expected to develop and participate in a personal programme to satisfy seven learning outcomes which lead to greater self-awareness and service to others.

Below is a brief description of what CAS is about and some recent student reflections on what they learned through their CAS experiences.  Even if you do not yet have a child in the IB diploma programme, you will hear the term “CAS” often and can begin to help your child consider how they can participate.

Students select CAS experiences based on their interests, skills, ambitions and talents to demonstrate:

  • their ability to explore an idea leading to an original or interpretive product or performance (CREATIVITY)
  • their commitment to physical exertion contributing to a healthy and active lifestyle (ACTIVITY)
  • their desire to respond to an authentic need by engaging within a community (SERVICE)

Although, not graded, the CAS requirements must be satisfied in order to receive the IB Diploma. Each student is supported through the programme by a CAS advisor who helps students reflect, in a blog, about how they have grown through their CAS experiences.

One of the initial challenges of CAS is interpreting the SEVEN Learning Outcomes:

  1. Identify own strengths and develop areas for growth
  2. Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process
  3. Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience
  4. Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences
  5. Demonstrate the skills and recognize the benefits of working collaboratively 6. Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance
  6. Recognize and consider the ethics of choices and actions

In meeting these outcomes, students may discover the benefits of teamwork and of achievements realized through an exchange of ideas and abilities. This challenges students to show initiative, demonstrate perseverance, and develop skills such as cooperation, problem-solving and decision-making.

Below are some reflections from students from recent graduating classes:

“Working in a team demands a lot of communication and listening skills, as well as – at times, swallowing one’s pride. As a Geography Higher Level student, I have been severely exposed to some sad realities of our world. Among rising disparities in wealth and development and global warming I personally find inappropriate waste disposal a rising concern. There are so many short- and long-term impacts on our planet that we don’t consider when throwing a plastic wrapper on the streets that I decided to contribute to a solution. Although the best solution would be to tackle the sources of pollution, my approach was to eliminate some of the damage that was already committed. By organizing a street clean-up, I and my friends contributed in fixing, however little, a problem of global significance as sooner or later, we will all be seen affected by severe air and water contamination.”

“Writing CAS  reflections was something that I thought of as an unnecessary requirement at first. I thought I could write two articles for the school online newspaper instead of writing one and then blogging about it. However, I was quick to realize my mistake. By blogging about CAS, I found myself thinking more actively while doing many of my activities. If I was thinking about the ethical impacts of my article, I found that I came up with a better article. And I would prefer one good article over three not so good ones.”

Undertaken new challenges. “A very important barrier I breached was being able to discuss my own opinions in a group environment with my peers. Though this may seem a small feat for some, for me this was a huge step.”

“Some of the most worthwhile CAS experiences, in my personal experience, have been those where I have challenged myself. By trying new activities, confronting fears and overcoming challenges I have learnt new skills and more importantly, I have learnt a lot about myself. Additionally, by overcoming the encountered challenges I now feel a sense of achievement.”

“Perseverance ensures that you achieve things that you otherwise might not. CAS has made this evident to me. By persevering and not giving up I have achieved a lot. Before the IB I always wanted to succeed in something the first time round and if I was not good at something I would not persevere. However, I have learnt to persevere even when doing CAS activities that I was not comfortable with (e.g. working in the primary art class and doing cheerleading and fitness).”

“Via Ferrata was a new and terrifying experience, I wish never to go through again, however I was shown where my weaknesses and strengths are, which in the longterm made me stronger. “

“CAS has definitely taught me to appreciate all things in life and I think the best way to do that is to reflect on them, even if it’s not part of CAS. As mentioned previously, these activities all have a significant importance to me and have helped me become a stronger and better person because of the reflections I have written and thought about.”

“CAS has been an enriching experience, overall. I’ve had to do a lot of coordination and be very organised in order to manage all of my projects and activities, but it has been good fun overall.”

“I’ve learnt about engaging with people with different background and beliefs from me, and engaging myself with my teams and issues of global significance. I developed new skills and learnt how to work towards achieving my aims. However one of the biggest things I appreciated about CAS was how my projects made me work with things at a bigger scale, doing things that really impacted a wider community; working with the refugees, working for Sports Day and the Sports Awards, as well as the EtCetera Editions.”

“This is it– final CAS post! The IB has been quite the journey over the past two years. CAS has been such an integral part of my overall high school experience (even just spanning half of it in total), and the activities themselves & writing the reflections have really allowed me to appreciate every opportunity offered to me, carry over skills throughout the two years and know what I am passionate about continuing, going into college.”

For more information on Secondary CAS requirements, visit http://cas.ecolint.ch/

Learning through experience is a fundamental part of all the IB programmes and the Primary Years are following their own programme of CAS.  Look out for a future En Bref article on this.