Sunday, December 31, 2023

Learning in and about turbulent times

As the year closes, I think it's always good to look back on what has been achieved.  This year I have worked in 35 schools and have led regional workshops for participants from many more schools.  In some cases I have also worked with the same school multiple times as a consultant.  At the same time I've been blessed to have also been given the opportunity to work with the PYP curriculum managers over the past year as a consultant on a variety of different projects, such as the new subject continuums, the learning progressions pilot and the PYP glossary.  Most recently I've worked on revising pillars 1 and 3 of the FPiP (From principles into practice).  All this work has been rewarding and fulfilling.

This year has also seen turbulent times as the world continues to be rocked by global conflicts.  Following on from several years of disrupted education as a result of Covid, I am seeing a high level of anxiety in schools these days, as well as educators rising to these challenges with an increased focus on wellbeing.  When I'm in schools for evaluation and verification visits I hear a lot about how schools have coped with crisis - and how many are still dealing with it.  Back in 2020, in response to changed education patterns as a result of Covid, the IB published some crisis support resources and today I thought I'd take a look through these and see how relevant they still are to the situation facing schools around the world.

When I lead PYP workshops, I notice that one of the hardest things teachers grapple with is writing strong, significant central ideas.  In my work on the FPiP, I have been able to refresh some of the "old" central ideas to make them more relevant to the current thinking in the PYP.  Actually even though I know this makes me sound a bit geeky, I really enjoy revising central ideas as I think it is "hard fun".  It was therefore good to look back to some examples of central ideas that help students to learn about issues such as dealing with crises.  Units of inquiry are frequently safe spaces for students to work through challenging issues, so how can we write strong central ideas that work with all of the transdisciplinary themes?  Here are a few examples:

Who we are:  In times of crisis, people look to support the basic needs and well-being of themselves and others

Where we are in place and time:  Communities change through human displacement

How we express ourselves: People connect through the sharing of ideas, feelings and experiences

How the world works: Crises disrupt human and natural systems

How we organise ourselves:  Individual and collective action can have far reaching impacts in times of crisis

Sharing the planet: Responses to conflict can support or obstruct pathways to peace and justice.

Image by Sutorimedia on Pixabay. Free for use under the Pixabay Content License

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