In my experience, I have found that the PYP Learner Profile is a much maligned, ridiculed and – even worse – ignored element of the PYP. Yet, it encapsulates the very essence of what it means to be a PYP school bringing up future “global citizens”. It gets laminated and stuck on walls. Kids learn the words parrot-fashion and teachers whack them on planners in schools everywhere.
Yet, it is not often that we can put our hands on our hearts and say that the Learner Profile is alive, well and thriving in our schools. Why is this?
Well… part of it is confusion. The fact that there is a Learner Profile and some Attitudes makes it difficult to simplify things. Many of us wonder why both exist and so end up applying neither. I have found this fantastic tree diagram to be really helpful in establishing the relationship between the two:
With the Attitudes in the roots, they represent the hidden, internal behaviours that students need to develop. The more visible attributes of the Learner Profile are represented by the leaves and branches. Through development of the Attitudes, students will start to demonstrate the attributes of the Learner Profile. It is, therefore, much more powerful to work with the Attitudes regularly than it is to work with the Learner Profile.
A second reason that we struggle with the Learner Profile is the paucity of our own ethical educations! I have come to this realization in the last few weeks while being profoundly affected by Shane Koyczan’s powerful work. Let’s face it, the world he smacks us in the face with is the world we grew up in. It is also the world many of us still live in as we form cliques, gossip about each other, make judgments about people, criticize people who are different and generally act appallingly in the hallways, classrooms and staffrooms of the schools we work in. Of course, I am generalizing… but am I wrong?
The Learner Profile is the one thing that really sets the IB apart from other education systems. If we can start to take it more seriously and make it a priority in our schools, perhaps we could have a better chance of bringing up ethical citizens. If we can start using the Attitudes with more conviction, perhaps we will start seeing the Learner Profile come to fruition on a greater scale. If we can start being nicer to each other, perhaps some of that will rub off.
I will start a job as PYP Coordinator next academic year and this will be a major priority for me. I will share the strategies we use on this blog… in the meantime… what do you do in your school to make the Learner Profile work?