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Creativity, activity and service: Shaping students outside of the classroom

Creativity, activity and service: Shaping students outside of the classroom

Creativity, Activity and Service, commonly referred to as CAS, is a core component of the International Baccalaureate program. CAS allows students to pursue their own interests, talents and skills outside of the classroom by engaging in experiences and projects through clubs, volunteering, sports, or other co-curricular activities.

Students are required to complete experiences and projects that fall into the three categories of creativity, activity and service. Through creative experiences, students explore original ideas that lead them to innovative products or interpretive performances. Active experiences allow students to engage in physical activity, leading to a more healthy lifestyle. Service experiences provide opportunities for students to engage with their communities in a collaborative way.

Students are also expected to complete a longer term collaborative project that focuses on one or more of the three areas, deepening their understanding of a particular interest. While CAS is an academic requirement, it often becomes a cherished part of students’ lives as they pursue their passions and discover new hobbies.

How CAS supports classroom learning

Alex Peterson, a founding figure in the IB world, said “if you believe in something, you must not just think or talk or write, you must act.” This quote informs the importance of experiential learning in education. Something that is missing in traditional education is action.

The CAS program pushes students to take action in a tangible way. Students may learn about the urgency of climate change in geography class, but with CAS they take the learning a step further. With CAS, students could create a recycling project for their school or plan a “black out” where they ask the school to shut off their lights for the day to conserve energy. Engaging directly with an issue with real outcomes is essential to enacting change in the world in a creative, active or service-oriented way. This unique educational component allows students to create change in their communities and in themselves in a powerful way that is not always promoted by typical classroom learning.

Through CAS, students are afforded an opportunity to either develop existing talents and skills or step out of their comfort zone and try new activities in a safe space. At the end of the program, many students say that CAS has helped them discover more about themselves. Perhaps they wouldn’t have realized their love for service, their stellar running ability, or that they are resilient and persistent when faced with a challenge. Developing a student’s skills outside of academics is essential to a well-rounded, confident, passionate person. The CAS program provides an excellent foundation for holistic learning.

Creativity, activity and service at EF Academy New York

EF Academy’s mission is to develop independent, creative, healthy and socially active global citizens. The CAS program is an excellent conduit for our mission, which is why we extend this core component of the IB program to all students. Our advisory program, Mindfulness, Awareness, Perspectives and Skills (MAPS) gives students the tools to actively engage in co-curricular activities by providing them with support to develop those dreams. EF Academy New York has many clubs where students can engage in CAS experiences, including Model UN, Outdoor Leadership Club, Art Club, Community Service Club, sports and much more.

Our students’ MAPS advisors guide their students in developing their interests, skills, and talents through these clubs or other opportunities. Students are able to showcase their CAS experiences and projects through MAPS. The conjunction of these two programs allows students to share their passions within the school community and collaborate with other students and clubs. Some examples of past projects include fundraising to build a dormitory for a school in Northern Kenya or creating a televised news segment to share what’s going on in our community.

When it comes to CAS, the sky is the limit. We are happy to support our students in whatever they choose to pursue, so long as they do so with passion and dedication. It is extremely rewarding to see students’ projects come to fruition. Whether it’s through creativity, activity, or service, the pride and joy students take in projects they truly care about further reinforces the importance of providing hands-on learning experiences.  The learning and growth that occurs when an entire school community can share in the success of CAS is truly incredible.