The bus hurtles around the mountain curves at high speed and we hang on for dear life. It’s crowded and people are standing in the aisle. A hawker gets on the bus selling hot empanadas cooked at the side of the road. None of this could happen where I come from. This is Ecuador and things are different here.
Yet visiting the Einstein School in Quito, I feel immediately at home. Wherever I look I see familiar signs of the PYP. (IB Primary Years Program). I can discern the attributes of the learner profile on display even though they are in Spanish. Trans-disciplinary themes and central ideas are posted in every room, both in Spanish and English. I’m shown around by Sylvia, who is warm, welcoming and willing to enlighten me about the school’s history, practices and programs. Her English is fluent, but it’s the common language of the PYP that instantly connects us. We talk about units of inquiry and we compare what learning looks like in our different (yet so similar) contexts.
The students here study in Spanish for half the day and English the other half, but they explore the same units of inquiry in both languages. The program includes art, music and drama and a choice between Hebrew and French. The kids laughing, pushing and playing handball against the wall look like the ones I teach at home. I talk to a group of Year 6 students in the computer room and they tell me a little about their learning. In a Year 5 classroom, the teacher apologises for the fact that there’s not much learning displayed on the walls as they have just started a new unit of inquiry and laughs when I tell her that it would be the same at my school on the other side of the world. Her students are playing Scrabble in Spanish but pause to huddle together and let me take their photo.
I’m a teacher. I enjoy being in learning environments anywhere. But there’s something special about visiting a school on the other side of the globe and being surrounded by the familiar language of the PYP. I feel totally at ease… and I can already see possibilities for collaboration between our students!