Shaping Lives with Action | Mar 05, 2020
How many of us as adults look back on our early education and remember opportunities we had to make a difference for our families, communities, and even our world. I would venture to guess not too many. I went to school and did well learning facts and figures – fell in love with reading and history – and carried that love on to college where I decided to become an educator and share those passions. As a quiet person I occasionally made the leap to share my interests in a class assignment, but not often. I certainly never saw myself in that light. If someone would have asked me in high school if I could make a difference in the world by following my passions, I highly doubt I would have said yes with conviction.
As a beginning administrator, I was incredibly fortunate to be asked to begin taking my school through the process of becoming an IB PYP school – introducing me to the IB Primary Years Program element of “Action”. Now, many years later, I see that the small steps of immersing the students in this idea has, for some of my former students, been life changing. Truly. It started with teaching the idea that when we learn we have a responsibility to do something with that learning. If we learn that there are systems in place at our school to make it run smoothly, we should be aware of those systems and help custodians and teachers by picking up after ourselves, being careful with food in the cafeteria, etc. If we feel that something needs to change in our school, we should write to the administration or talk to other teachers, etc. If we know a neighbor needs help getting their mail we should ask our parents to help as we learn about the IB profile attribute of caring and all that entails. It’s a mindful concept, a shift of thinking….. And that planted seed grows from there with encouragement from those around them throughout their years in the program.
I recently attended a session of the Model United Nations group SICMUN, partnered with Southwestern University and attended by students in Texas (https://sicmun.org/). IST students in the Middle School will be participating in the program next year. This branch of the organization was started by two students who came up through the IB primary and middle years programs – they took action. It reminded me of the difference we can make for the future of our children, our communities, and our world by changing the educational experience from the early years on. I watched as students who had begun the IB program in kindergarten acted as delegates to UN committee meetings with timely and worldly topics – to discuss and find solutions. Not to agree, but to work together to find an articulate and thoughtful decision that could move things forward. I watched as some of my former students acted as Chairs in the delegation, ran the Security Council actions, etc. and realized that these young people thoroughly believe that they have the power to make a difference in our world. It truly was a realization of the power of “Action” in shaping their lives.
As we continue to grow this PYP element of Action at IST, I hope that you will share with our faculty the examples of action that you see your child interested in or asking to pursue. I wonder if we sometimes shut down their thoughts by not taking them seriously enough. Listen for those questions and comments that show that they are thinking about what they’ve learned and want to know more and do more in response. Create an “Action Board” at home to showcase the little things that they (or your family) do to make a difference in the lives of others, our environment, animals, our communities, etc. Celebrate their accomplishments, no matter how small, and then watch their growth as they realize the power they have to make a difference.
International School of Texas
Texas IB Schools