“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
~ Albert Einstein
It's an exciting time to be a PYP educator. The greatly anticipated launch of the Enhanced PYP is fast approaching and the past couple of years of preparation have sparked thought provoking discussions with colleagues about our practice and the very nature of transdisciplinary, inquiry-based learning. Our school, like hundreds of other PYP schools, has been exploring how we might best promote learner agency. Through individual study and reflection, to school-wide book studies and discussions, we are striving to re-think many of our practices; To think critically about why we do the things we do and asking if they are aligned with what we know about learning.
Embarking on a Harvard Project Zero course with colleagues, Creating Cultures of Thinking, and reading the book of the same title by Ron Ritchhart, has prompted us to pose a number of questions as we continue to stretch our thinking about how to transform our school.
- What if schools were designed from the start for learning?
- What if every decision a school made was viewed first through the impact it would have on learners?
- How might this change the dynamic of what happens in such places?
- If the aim of of a school is to provide a place in the community where people come together to become “master learners”, would we need a preset curriculum with which all learners had to engage?
- How would the shift from places of teaching to places of learning change a school?
- What if the aim of school was to build relationships and nurture curiosity?
- What if we focused on providing opportunities to develop powerful learning and thinking strategies?
- What if learners determined the content of the curriculum?
- What if teachers were more like coaches or mentors?
If schools were designed for learning would we still create timetables that limit exploration of ideas to 40 minutes blocks of time? Would we still group students be age? Would we still be focused on the completion of projects rather than focused on the process?
I feel a sense of being on the brink of great, systematic change and the PYP may be leading the way, helping educators organise schools to ensure they are places of learning for everyone involved.