Action is an integral part of the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and is key to student agency. We often discuss what it means for students to take action and what can it look like at all of the different age levels, from preschool to Grade 5. As our understanding of action as educators develops, we can share this with our students.
One thing that often comes up in our planning sessions is that action is more that simply raising money, which is a tangible action that students latch onto. We have been focusing on other ways to take action, some of which are ‘invisible’ to others, such as when Eve decided to become a vegetarian after learning about how that single action can make the biggest impact on climate change. At our school, and in many other PYP schools around the world, we are shifting from teacher-guided action to student-initiated action. This has sparked many discussions about how we can model this for the students, give them the agency and time needed to initiate action, and teach students about the many different types of action one can take.
The IB classifies action into five categories; participation, advocacy, social justice, social entrepreneurship, and lifestyle choices. Participation is about “being actively involved in the learning community and showing commitment to contributing as individuals and as members of a group.” Advocacy is “taking action individually or collectively to publicly support positive social, environmental, or political change.” Social justice is “taking action for positive change relating to human rights, equality, and equity, as well as being concerned with the advantages and disadvantages within society, and with social well-being and justice for all.” Social entrepreneurship means “supporting positive social change through responding to the needs of local, national, and global communities and applying prior knowledge and skills to identify and address challenges and opportunities in innovative, resourceful, and sustainable ways.” Lifestyle choices simply means “making positive lifestyle changes in response to learning.” (IBO’s “The Learner”, 2020)
This past weekend I was watching some American Idol auditions on YouTube, and I came across Taylor Fagins, a young songwriter from New York, who wrote an original song entitled, “We Need More.” I was moved to tears, as I listened to the lyrics about the killings of Black people in the United States. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I highly recommend it. Taylor’s song is an excellent example of advocacy through art. I shared his video today during our Grade 5 planning meeting about PYP Exhibition, as the topic of student action in the PYP Exhibition came up. We are starting to collect examples of action to show the students to inspire them to take their own action.
How do you encourage your students to take action as a result of their learning?