Liberating the program of inquiry…

What if we develop a new whole school unit of inquiry, linked to our whole school focus?

What if teachers and learners focus on the same inquiry?

What if we critically evaluate all our units against a list of criteria generated by both teachers and learners?

What if units do not follow one after another, but rather overlap and intersect?

What if some units are year long, some short, some ongoing… depending on content, concepts, trans disciplinary possibilities and student interest?

What if we actively seek unexpected combinations of learning areas, like science and poetry?

What if one unit incorporates two trans disciplinary themes?

What if we wait to develop the lines of inquiry till we see where the learners want to take it?

What if we we have the same central idea for all the classes at one grade level, but each group of learners develop their own lines of inquiry?

What if we analyse our program of inquiry in terms of the concentric circle model and check the balance between opportunities for self discovery and thinking beyond ourselves?

What if all units focus not just on developing knowledge and understanding, but on developing human beings?

What if every grade level has at least one unit that is individual and personal, student selected and student driven?

What if we liberate ourselves from the traditional curriculum prison and explore new vistas? 

These are some of the questions we are considering as we head into the annual review of our Program of Inquiry . We have already experimented with some of these ideas.  How might we shift thinking and learning even further, for both teachers and students? What else might we explore? 

I used to think the POI review was about checking for curricular alignment and conceptual development… Now I think it’s about asking evenmore beautiful questions’.

13 thoughts on “Liberating the program of inquiry…

    1. I have been reading standards and practices and there are some parts to your provocations that dont fit Standards and Pracitces.
      PYP: The school designs a programme of inquiry that consists of six units of inquiry—one for each
      transdisciplinary theme—at each year or grade level …
      Also, when I read posts like this I do wonder what is the context of the schools?
      …traditional curriculum prison… not all of us have the ability to do that – hence the reason that science and social studies is permitted as stand alone..
      I feel that some PYPC and teachers are thought of as ‘lesser beings’ and ‘poorer educators’ when we have constraints that do not allow us to have such an open and free system. Perspective and empathy…
      We are still great IB educators at heart…
      What if all units focus not just on developing knowledge and understanding, but on developing human beings?All units include learner profile, as IB educators surely the LP is also a natural part of the every day teaching and learning …. why just a unit?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Sandi

        Thanks for your comment.

        Yes, IB educators always focus on developing human beings not just on knowledge, but my blog is read my many educators from other contexts than the IB, so the notion of teaching the whole child is not to be taken for granted.

        Which of my questions do you feel suggests something that does not comply with the practice mentioned?

        I fully understand that different schools have their own constraints. I don’t think there was anything in my post to suggest the impression that anyone is a ‘lesser being’ or a ‘poorer educator’. My intention is always to provoke thinking about possibilities, for myself and my own teachers, as much as for anyone else. I enjoy taking an inquiry stance, questioning the system and exploring possibilities to innovate. That doesn’t mean I sit in judgment of anyone else.


  1. I like your thinking Edna!! Just voicing these wonders will give your teachers and students permission to be creative with their learning. The new PYP guidelines offer so much more freedom! I do wonder how we maintain a cohesive programme with so many possibilities.


  2. Hi Edna,
    I like the questions you pose in relation to how we think about a Programme of Inquiry.
    The questions challenge us to ‘open up’ instead of ‘tighten up’ the scope of inquiry.
    In particular I like the notion of personal inquiry as one of the UoIs, this really supports learner agency.
    Your questions would stimulate a lot of discussion in the MtPYPH Workshop!


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