The Learner Profile is one of the most complex aspects of teaching and learning in the PYP. You want it to become a part of everyday talk and ingrained in behaviour and attitudes to learning, but you also don’t want to repeat it parrot-fashion until it loses its essence. Many a workshop leader has used the quote “live it, don’t laminate it!” and we’ve all laughed nervously and said “ha ha… hmm” to make it look firmly as though we hadn’t laminated the Profile, stuck it on a wall and forgotten about it.
I’ve been struggling with something recently. I’ve been wondering how aware students need to be of the exact terminology we’re all using to underpin the framework of the PYP in our schools. When they act out of kindness, generosity and warmth do we all have to ceremoniously cry out that they are “Caring”? I’ve always believed that it is the unwritten codes of conduct in societies that are the strongest, do we weaken the Learner Profile by labeling it so distinctly for our students?
Actually, I often wonder if the IB created the Learner Profile primarily with teachers in mind… in the hope that if it can become ingrained in the way we behave, cooperate and collaborate it would become a natural part of student attitudes in good time. I don’t think I’ve been in many schools in which the Learner Profile is used as guidance for us in our meetings, in the way we communicate or even, dare I say it, in the ways that we teach. Bill and Ochan Powell blew us all away with this amazing video about “Mirror Neurons”, I dare anyone to argue that it doesn’t tell us it starts with us.
Back to my dilemma. I’m at a critical stage in the exhibition process with my Year 6 students. The exhibition is the culminating academic “event” of their elementary education. PYP terminology, attitudes, conceptual understandings, transdisciplinary skills and the desire to take action should be bursting from them… BANG! PYP exhibition.
But what if I can see all of those attributes in them every day that I work with them even though they may not be able to tell someone how they are acting. For example, a student who decides to do a presentation in the style of a TED talk on a theatre stage with a massive screen, professional lighting and a packed audience… does he need to be told he’s a “Risk-Taker”? Probably not. Does the subtle use of language over a number of years in a PYP school, the modeling of “risk-taking” behaviour by teachers and older students and the laying down of a series of incremental challenges by a series of good teachers put him up on that stage? Yes, I believe it does.
I am left with two choices for my planning over the next two weeks, do I “remind” the students of the exact wording of the PYP Learner Profile just in case someone comes along to check out they know exactly what they’re doing. Or do I take the risk that they will display the attributes of the Learner Profile to such a full extent that nobody even questions them about it?
Photograph by bingregory on flickr