Hans K.
I am a History IB SL and HL teacher, including Guided Course Work and EE. Furthermore, IB Theory of Knowledge(ToK) with Prescribed Essay has been taught, holds Master of Education with 25+ years of teaching experience.
Master of Education in History, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, PA. USA.


I am from Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and attended both Secondary School(Gymnasium) and University(Leiden). I was awarded an international scholarship to come and study in the U.S. First at Shippensburg University in PA and completion of the M.Ed in History and Education. Followed by a doctoral programme at Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, and completed this with an ABD in History and Education. I finished my doctoral work at Leiden University with a “Doctorandus” degree. After that, I started my teaching career and taught at several places in the U.S and abroad at international schools. In my 25 years of teaching, I taught IB History and ToK for about 15 years in both the U.S. and Europe.

Teaching Experience

I started my IB career at The Munich International School, teaching IB History SL/HL and ToK. I was introduced to ToK by Michael Woolman, a known author of several ToK textbooks. I continued teaching IB History and ToK at the American International School in Cobham, UK, and the International School of Lausanne, Switzerland. I moved to the U.S and taught the same IB subjects at the Verde Valley World IB School, Sedona, AZ, and the Harrisburg Academy, Harrisburg, PA.
At all schools, I was involved with the writings of the several papers required by the IB: the History Guided Course Work and the EE. As well as, with ToK, assisting students with their Prescribed essays. My approach here is very one-on-one, with several rough drafts before the final paper is presented and sent off for examination by IB scholars worldwide. I can honestly say that none of my students ever failed their History and/or ToK assignments.
Due to my IB Curriculum experiences, I feel that I can be of (much)help and assistance to any student who is somewhat struggling with their History and/or ToK assignment(s).

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

Get to know the student and make sure that the student understands who I am and what my expectations are. We will discuss some of the student’s interests, and I will share mine and, from there, move to their questions about the subject at hand, be that History or ToK.
Once the subject is broached, a discussion can occur between us to see what work needs to be done and when, potential, due dates are to be met. Our first session should set the student at ease with my way of working and asking questions. What I will emphasize is that “not knowing is good.” Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know/understand something; there are plenty of things I don’t know or understand either. This approach should set the tone for a fruitful relationship for upcoming sessions.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Through a process of critical questions that you pose on what you hear, see, or read. This becomes easier once knowledge/understanding of a particular subject is increased. Or how to tackle a question or problem. This is not easy, and, again, hard work and commitment are the basis of success. Through our discussions and the raising of pertinent questions, the student will see that a process is at work that will make him/her more confident and raise their self-esteem as a learner in their abilities and, once that happens, he/she is underway to become an ‘independent learner’.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I will have to assume that the IB Coordinator at their school has explained what IB entails. Not just by Handing them a piece of paper to read, but have actually sat down with them and discussed what IB is all about. If that is so, and the student understands this, there’s no need for much motivation. What probably is the case is that the student is frustrated in whatever the assignment is, gets little help from their school/teacher, and is in the process of giving up. Here’s where we come in. I will give the student the help he/she needs, and together we will get him/her back on track and, once understanding is reached, motivation to continue is a given.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

Depending on what skill we are talking about, I would suggest talking to another teacher at their school, who is an expert in the skill’, or master of the concept.’ I am not the Oracle of Delphi and, hence, can only assist in those matters I know of. If it is a concept in History, says the difference between Colonialism and Imperialism, I can handle that. If it concerns a skill or concept in Physics, I am the wrong guy to ask. What I would do in a case like that would encourage/advise the student to seek help from people in his school, as stated above.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

One of the things that have worked for me working with Chinese students is telling them that trying to understand each word on a reading assignment is futile. Break the reading down into a set of manageable paragraphs and read paragraph by paragraph and see if you understand what each paragraph is about, even though there are words in that paragraph you don’t know or understand. Get the jest of what the paragraph is about and move on. Too much time is wasted by trying to decipher every word. Once you are an IB student, you have too much to do and little time to do it. It does not mean that students should not look up the words they don’t know, but there’s a time and place to do this; but if the assignment is due tomorrow, or the next day, break the assignment down into smaller pieces and move on.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

As stated in my teaching philosophy, I will try and make the student feel good about having signed up with me for this session. I will ask /her about their interests and share some of my interests with them. The student should feel appreciated as a person and not as a number who signed up for IB help. I value the individual, and the more I know about him/her, the better I can help them. I will tell them that I want them to be successful, and that can only happen if they share experiences and are not afraid of admitting that they don’t know something: Not Knowing is Good!

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling with?

First, we have to find out what the student is struggling with. Within the IB Curriculum, there are plenty of subjects students can “struggle” with. Once that is the case, it’s difficult to become “engaged” about it. What helps the student here is, assuming they sit for the Diploma and not Certificates, that they have to take ToK. In this course, you are looking for the ‘truth’ in a particular discipline, and you have to discuss how you reach that ‘truth’ and how you can undermine it, i.e., it might not be true if… That means that even in the Hard Sciences, like Physics, the truth might be relative. So, although the student might be struggling, he/she also knows that they can make a rational argument using available sources to undermine the original truth. This approach sets many students at ease, although they still might have to struggle with Physics, now they are confident that they are not as dumb as they thought they were before, which gives the student the self-confidence to continue!

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

This will happen at every session after the first one. I will start the session by asking the student a series of short questions about what we talked about the other day. He/she is allowed to use their notes(if they took them) and provide the answers. Based on that, I have a fairly good idea whether they understood something or not. I also expect the student to be “open and honest” about our session(s) and if he/she has any questions to ask them. Again, the idea of “Not Knowing is Good’, comes into play and will be repeated many times. If necessary, a short written answer might suffice. For the bigger picture, they might supply me with a rough draft of one of their papers to see if they have an understanding. And, if not, we can discuss that at our next session and move on.

How do you build a student’s confidence in a subject?

From session one on, talking to them and listening to them. The latter is very important since many people lack the ability to listen without jumping in. When they talk, I take notes and, once they are done, I will come back to my notes and ask them for clarification. So, by the end, I have a good idea of what’s going on. Once we know that, we can start moving forward by narrowing the problem down and providing tentative answers to the problem. Needless to say that the student is an integral participant in this discussion! The end is reached when the student experiences the “Aha moment”.

How do you evaluate a student’s needs?

I would hope that after session 1, the student feels comfortable enough to share information with me that would indicate a student’s need. In some cases, I might be the one to suggest a course of action. In others, I would refer them to their school counselor or a teacher they have a good relationship with. Again, I am an IB tutor whose primary objective is to help and assist a student with academic work. If, in the course of the session, a “need” needs to be addressed, I will handle that to the best of my ability, as stated above.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student’s needs?

I would hope that after session 1, the student feels comfortable enough to share information with me that would indicate a student’s need. In some cases, I might be the one to suggest a course of action. In others, I would refer them to their school counselor or a teacher they have a good relationship with. Again, I am an IB tutor whose primary objective is to help and assist a student with academic work. If, in the course of the session, a “need” needs to be addressed, I will handle that to the best of my ability, as stated above.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

I assume that the student has a textbook that they use in class. I have several textbooks as well. They might not be the same, but the historical content, most likely, will be. So, we use that. If necessary, I will suggest the use of articles(the best ones are peer-reviewed), primary or secondary, outside readings, monographs, movies, cartoons, or certain websites, primarily the .gov and .edu ones.

Teaching Skills

Subject Skill Level
Extended Essay ​(EE)
History HL
History SL
Theory of Knowledge​ (TOK)
“Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.” Booker T. Washington.

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