Concept-driven, inquiry-based learning in the Middle Years Programme.
A concept-driven, inquiry-based education, like the IB programme, centers on learners. The IB programme promotes open communication based on understanding and respect and encourages students to become active, compassionate, lifelong learners. This type of education is holistic in nature, with the whole person in mind, and concerned with cognitive development along with concern for social, emotional and physical wellbeing.
A concept-driven education develops effective approaches to teaching and learning, empowering young people for a lifetime of learning, independently and in collaboration with others. It prepares a community of learners who engage with global challenges through inquiry, action and reflection. An IB education, for example, aims to develop a range of competencies and dispositions that include skills for: thinking, working with others, communicating, managing self and research.
At its heart this type of education should work within global contexts. Students increase their understanding of language and culture (multilingualism and intercultural understanding) and it encourages global and local engagement, including developmentally appropriate aspects of challenges in: the environment, development, conflict, rights, cooperation and governance.
In practical terms, the IB’s Middle Years Programme (MYP), establish a common core of big ideas that matter. These KEY CONCEPTS form the heart of a connected curriculum. They come from and are shared across academic disciplines. They unify students’ academic experience and provide teachers with a common vocabulary. Concepts create a culture of thinking that invites students to see connections, contradictions, alternative perspectives and different ways of thinking. At a time when adolescents are beginning to move into more sophisticated modes of abstract thinking, concepts offer students something consistent to think about over time and across subjects. Examples such as Identity, Logic, Perspective, Relationship and Systems can run through a typical student’s school week.
This is an important feature of concept-driven education. Teaching and learning needs to reflect both how knowledge is structured in the real world and how we learn. These days, facts are easily and inexpensively ‘knowable’. However, they often remain distinct and without any connection to each other, except through the strategy of grouping them into topics. This is where most educational systems stop. A concept-based education goes on to ask, what do these facts mean? How are they related? To which ideas do they give us entry? Concepts help this happen; they are the superhighways of learning.
Cite: Based on presentations by Robert Harrison, Head MYP Development, International Baccalaureate.