Education for a better world…

This comment by Aaron Eyler on a previous post made me realise how much I take for granted in my school:

…  It should always be about the learning. More importantly, it should be about students learning and not about specific content.

My favorite part of what you wrote is this: “They practised not only their language skills but a whole range of trans-disciplinary skills such as communication, collaboration, creative thinking, independence and time management.”.

That’s what learning should be about. Transferring skills fluidly. Current school structure prohibits that. We isolate ideas as though every subject lives in a different “kingdom”, and the teacher who wanders if viewed as an impostor.

How do we break the “kingdomization” of school? What can we do, right now, to get teachers to feel more comfortable talking about science in their history class? Once we accomplish this, our kids will flourish. It provides context and an ability to understand what it means to think critically.

So, how do we?

I am lucky to work in a PYP school.

The PYP is the International Baccalaureatte Primary Years Program.  Next month we will have our authorization visit from the IBO and hope to be authorized as an IB PYP School. The introduction of the PYP several years ago has meant that we’ve worked hard to introduce meaningful change into our school. It helps that the philosophy behind the program matches my own beliefs and values about teaching and learning.

These are some of the key changes that have been implemented:

  • Embedding  inquiry as a stance across all areas of the curriculum. (Promoting questioning, thinking, exploring, experimenting and wondering.)
  • Fostering the qualities and attributes of the learner profile. (Encouraging our students to be thinkers, inquirers, knowledgeable,  communicators, reflective, open minded, principled, balanced, caring, risk-takers)
  • Developing a trans-disciplinary program of inquiry through sustained collaborative work involving all staff.
  • Focusing on learning that is concept based, rather than content based.
  • Providing opportunities for learning about local, national and global issues, leading to an understanding of human commonalities.
  • Teaching  trans-disciplinary skills, such as thinking, communication, research, self-management and social skills.
  • Addressing the needs of students at different stages in their development and with different learning styles.
  • Ensuring assessment is a meaningful and integral part of planning, teaching and learning.
  • Providing students with regular opportunities for reflection on their own learning.
  • Encouraging opportunities for student action as part of the curriculum and/or an extension of the curriculum.

I’m part of a school community that values all these things.  I sometimes forget that school learning doesn’t look like that everywhere.  Which of these things are part of your school culture?

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