What Concepts Do We Want Students to Understand?
The PYP has a set of eight concepts that answer the question, “What do we want the students to learn?” By focusing on these concepts students develop higher order thinking skills and better questioning techniques. Questions in each unit of inquiry can fit into one or more of these concepts:
Central to the philosophy of the PYP is the principle that guided inquiry is a powerful method of instruction and learning. The PYP provides a framework for the curriculum with questions that shape the unit of inquiry, giving it direction. Typically, each unit of inquiry focuses on three of the key concepts which drive the lines of inquiry. The eight key concepts and key questions are:
Form-What is it like?
This is the understanding that everything has a form with recognizable features that can be observed, identified, described and categorized. This concept was selected because the ability to observe, identify, describe and categorize is fundamental to learning within and across all disciplines.
Function-How does it work?
This is the understanding that everything has a purpose, a role or a way of behaving that can be investigated. This concept was selected because the ability to analyze function, role, behavior, and the ways in which things work is fundamental to learning within and across all disciplines.
Causation-Why is it like it is?
This is the understanding that things do not just happen, that there are causal relationships at work, and that actions have consequences. This concept was selected because of the importance of prompting students to ask “Why?” and of helping them to recognize that actions and events have reasons and consequences.
Change-How is it changing?
This is the understanding that change is the process of movement from one state to another. It is universal and inevitable. This concept was selected because it has a particular relevance to students developing international-mindedness who are growing up in a world in which the pace of change, both local and global, is accelerating.
Connection-How is it connected to other things?
This is the understanding that we live in a world of interacting systems in which the actions of any individual element affect others. This concept was chosen because of the importance of appreciating that nothing exists in a vacuum, but as an element in a system; that the relationships within and among systems are often complex, and that changes in one aspect of a system will consequences, even though these many not be immediately apparent; that we must consider the impact of our actions on others, whether at the immediate, personal level or at the level of far-reaching decisions affecting environments and communities.
Perspective-What are the points of view?
This is the understanding that perspectives moderate knowledge; different perspectives lead to different interpretations, understandings and findings; perspectives may be individual, group, cultural or disciplinary. This concept was chosen because of the need to develop in students the disposition towards rejecting simplistic, biased interpretations, towards seeking and considering the points of view of others, and towards developing defensible interpretations.
Responsibility-What is our responsibility?
This is the understanding that people make choices based on their understandings, and the actions they take as a result do make a difference.
This concept was selected because of the need to develop in students the disposition towards identifying and assuming responsibility, and towards taking socially responsible action. This concept is directly linked to the action component, one of the essential elements I the PYP curriculum.
Reflection-How do we know?
This is the understanding that there are different ways of knowing, and that it is important to reflect on our conclusions, to consider our methods of reasoning, and the quality and the reliability of the evidence we have considered. This concept was selected for many reasons. It challenges the students to examine their evidence, methods and conclusions. In doing so, it extends their thinking and encouraged them to be rigorous in examining evidence for potential bias or other inaccuracy.