16 October 2017

The MYP; Well And Truly 'Preparing Boys For Life'

Humans approach virtually everything in experience as something that can be "given meaning" by the power of our minds to create a conceptualization. If we want to help students develop as critical thinkers, we must help them come to terms with this human power of mind, the power to create concepts through which we, and they, see and experience the world. (Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2013)

The Middle Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate has undergone some recent changes that will come into effect in the next academic year. The changes are, in some cases, very practical i.e. all subjects will now have 4 assessment criteria and 8 levels of achievement. This greater degree of uniformity will make it easier for parents to understand their son's performance in each of the learning areas. Others of these changes are pedagogical and will serve to further strengthen the teaching and learning experiences for students at our college. The principal area of change is the move towards a more conceptual model of thinking and learning. In simple terms, this means that students are challenged to think conceptually. This enables greater transference of knowledge and skills from subject to subject, programme to programme and from school to community or work-place.

The changes have been born from years of research into 21st century (and now potential 22nd Century) learning programmes and environments. Today's employers are primarily focussed on the skills sets of candidates applying for work. Employers are looking for independent, critical thinkers who can look at things from new, more creative perspectives in order to solve problems and adapt readily to change. Our world is one of fast-paced change; facts, knowledge and tools are not static and our students will need to be equally as flexible and dynamic in their approach to life and work. We need to develop our students' critical thinking skills so that they can feel confident in their abilities to adapt to change and to learn new skills as necessary - knowing 'how to learn' is the key to their future success.

Educational Expert and former UK 'Super-Head' Dr Richard Gerver, cites Sir Alex Ferguson in his publication Change -Learn to love it, Learn to Lead it. The 13 times Premier League winning manager said; "To be successful, you have to be able to adapt to change." It would seem (following Manchester United's woeful performance this season) that Sir Alex's failing was in not teaching his players to be so adaptable. Dr Gerver was Keynote Speaker at the IB Asia-Pacific Regional Conference; he not only believes that a concept-based approach to education is essential but that the IBO's focus on transferable skills is a requisite for developing desirable employees.

With all Curriculum Leaders having recently been in-serviced on the 'new' MYP guides, we are in a good position to begin to ring the changes in our own classrooms. The concept of change here at Scotch is interpreted as one of growth and development - it is something we embrace as we prepare our boys for life in the 21st Century world beyond the walls of their classrooms.

Charlotte Cook-Casey

MYP Coordinator