Dear Parents and Guardians,
The calendar year is 2020 is coming to an end and I often contact or am contacted by old friends in the United Kingdom. Recently a friend who is not a teacher, in fact, he is an engineer and has two children. We caught up WhatsApp with our news and stories.
I mentioned that I was working with the IB Primary Years project, IB Middle Years Project, and the IB Diploma Programme.
He said that the Diploma Programme is great and he wanted his children to attend an IB school when they are 16. He then said the Primary Years Programme was just about letting children play and he did not like it. I was surprised by his comment and I explained to him what it was through a conversation to give the idea about what the PYP actually is.
I decided to use some of those comments I sent him in this newsletter just in case you meet people who think the PYP is just about children playing and doing projects.
Firstly, play is important to very young children in a Kindergarten. Children see play as work and they are often busy doing things which we see as play, but they are in fact experimenting and discovering. The role of the teacher for these very young children is to question and guide and become involved with children’s play to ask them questions and make children inquire further and learn the basics. This is done by creating a series of resources that children can get involved. Teachers can develop children’s those skills through questioning and suggesting. So my friend was right that children play but that is in Kindergarten and we know the role of the teacher is central in developing play opportunities to develop thinking for that age group.
My friend was totally wrong about the PYP for grades 1 to 5. Students are not playing. There is a mixture of standalone lessons where children learn those skills that we do not automatically get. Children learn to speak when interacting with others. However, they do not learn to write or develop a language without specific help with phonics and writing. Maths skills are needed so children develop the skills of basic number and then are taught how to manipulate those numbers through to using basic algebra.
This is not project work, but extended guided inquiry led by the teacher asking and leading students to know more about the concepts they are studying through a Unit of Inquiry.
My last point for my engineer friend was that the PYP starts the development of problem-solving and is not just a body of knowledge that children have to learn and memorise and be tested on. It is in the application and inquiry that children get to ask and find out more that makes the PYP.
The conversation with my friends came to an end when he said that’s is what I do in my job as an engineer with my workers. We do know things he said but so much of the time we have to apply what we know and see if we can find an answer. That’s very PYP I said. He agreed.
Director of Studies