One thing that frustrates me is how PYP Exhibitions build up to an amazing climax and then, as the dust settles, everyone says things like “bet you’re glad that’s over” or “now the exhibition’s finished you can…”. Just like every unit of inquiry, it’s that sense of learning stopping and being replaced with something else that removes the power of what has just been done. I mean, seriously, the kids have just spent a long time preparing for this exhibition… but over 60% of that time was spent digging deep into their souls to find out what really mattered to them, what issues made them feel real emotions and gave them genuine passion. If we are to be true to them, and ourselves, can we really just down tools and say “Wow… that was hard work. Right, next unit.” and then watch as the students lose all interest, forget what they have done, and cease all action. My students told me that a lot of the older students who came to see their work actually admitted that they couldn’t remember what they had done their PYP exhibition about. Many could remember the products they created (a PowerPoint, a booth, a bake sale) but they couldn’t remember the issues they had been thinking about.
That is disturbing.
What can be done?
We’re (the students and I) going to do the following things:
- Discuss how they can continue their work today, tomorrow, next week, until the end of the year, next year and so on. We started this today, have a look at this blog posting: http://6ssatnist.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/the-exhibition-is-finished-oh-no-its-not/
- Make genuine, sustainable links with the organizations that we connected with during the exhibition.
- Embed these issues into who we are on a long-term basis, possibly even continuing the work all the way through school. Imagine how much of a head start these students will have on CAS, Community and Service, MYP Personal Projects and extended essays if they have already been working on issues since Year 6 (Grade 5).
I’m going to really give this a try. This school is the first school I’ve worked in where I would like to stay for at least 10 years! This will, hopefully, be the first time I can follow my students through to graduation. I’m really going to try and meet up with them through the years in order to help them make what they started in the exhibition a sustainable part of their lives at school.