Listening in on Year 6 students reflecting on their learning with an outsider (a researcher exploring the PYP enhancements for the IB), I was impressed by the extent to which they understand the learning process and can articulate their understanding.
I’ve been meaning to share the conversation parents had with the researcher too. The parents with the loudest voices can be the ones who constantly seem to question our approaches and prefer a more traditional model of school, so it was rewarding to listen to the insights of a small group of ‘selected volunteers’ (!) talking openly about their children’s learning experience in the PYP. These are some responses that highlight common themes…
- School today is very different. Children have latitude in the learning. When I was at school, there was no choice and flexibility or encouragement of exploration. Our children can explore areas of interest and we like hearing them talk about inquiries and research. They seem to run with it and it doesn’t seem force fed. I really need to step back from my own school experience and adapt to a different way of thinking and learning. It can be provoking for us!
- I don’t know what PYP even stands for but it seems that the PYP is about finding out how kids learn and identifying their needs and addressing them. Students have flexibility to follow their interests but basic needs are still attended to.
- One unit of inquiry can lead them on a journey of curiosity, which is very exciting, but maybe it doesn’t work for all children. Some parents think children need more traditional teaching and perhaps some kids need more structure, but I think kids with difficulties can flourish and I know my child found his passion through the PYP exhibition.
- It’s interesting how our children see the world. They use technology for global connections and the world has become smaller! Talking to kids in other countries opens their minds to new world views.
- The online portfolios give students an opportunity to talk about their learning and it is evident that the focus is on process, rather than product. Maybe Seesaw should not have ‘likes’ even for parents, it puts pressure in the same way that social media does.
- I’m impressed by the concepts that children have as part of their language. They use language to express their feelings and they talk about things like gratitude and mindfulness. They can articulate their strengths and challenges. They know where they are at and they are part of their learning. Their capacity to self reflect is impressive. They seem to develop a toolbox of self expression in the PYP.
- For some parents, there is a problem with the lack of emphasis on competition. Many parents are results focused and want to know where their kids are in relation to others. Sports day is good to help kids develop the concept of winning and losing. Competition works for some children, it’s what helps my child learn her words. On the other hand, testing is a pressure and there is a lot of anxiety in some children today.
- PYP seems to allow teachers to be more creative and they are responsive to children’s interests and needs, but it really needs the right teacher to provoke children’s curiosity. It must be more difficult for teachers because the learning is individual and one size does not fit all. It’s a challenging job for teachers!
- The collaborative aspect is very important and there is a lot of creativity. It’s like real world learning and it’s interesting to think about how these children will turn out in the future and what they will contribute to the world.
- Learning isn’t only for school. Kids don’t even always realise they are learning. I like the idea that everything is an opportunity to learn and the focus is on lifelong learning. Trans disciplinary learning is LIFE.
The loveliest comment I heard was this one: “PYP changes the way you parent.”