By Sumaya Alyusuf
I’m sure we all agree how important health education is for families, schools, cultural groups and the future of our world. At the IB, our programmes strive to take a holistically-oriented approach to education, attending to students’ health and well-being across a full range of cognitive, physical, social, spiritual and emotional domains. And like other international organizations looking to the future of education, we are increasingly concerned about ensuring our programmes help students lead fulfilling lives and participate as active responsible members of local and global communities.
In the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP), health and physical education is one of eight equally-important subject groups, but concern for health education in the middle years can’t be limited to a single course (and one which some schools can’t make available for MYP Years 4 and 5 for students ages 15-16).
Middle school students face many complex changes in their minds, bodies and relationships. They must also come to terms with growing academic expectations and many important academic transitions. These significant years in a student’s life mark a period of increased autonomy; students increasingly make independent decisions that can influence their health – sometimes with lasting consequences. Their health-related behaviours are influenced greatly by the world around them, and their peers become major influencers and key sources of information. Behaviours established during early adolescence often continue into adulthood, affecting mental health, diet, physical activity level, sexuality, and substance abuse.
This is obviously where health education in the middle years can step in to play an important role in maintaining well-being.
Here in the MYP development team, we are exploring ways to support well-being in the middle years with a new international health education ‘scope and sequence’ framework based on intercultural understanding, promoting agency and autonomy, developing the whole person, and addressing a wide range of human capabilities.
Our current thinking is that opportunities for an MYP approach to health education might include:
- a five-year scope and sequence framework
- flexible integration models for use in single or multiple subject groups, or beyond the traditional timetable
- interdisciplinary units
- additional guidance for health education in MYP physical and health education courses
- curated components of effective practice in school health education
- connections to the affordances for health education in other IB programmes
- advocacy and resources to enhance personal (physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional), family, community and global health.
- culturally-responsive support materials.
Help us develop an MYP approach to health education
This project goes to the heart of ‘What is an IB education.’ Are you a middle years educator with good ideas, effective practices, learning stories, resources, and contacts in the field which you would like to share? We are inviting you to discuss school health education through an online platform and we would appreciate your contributions! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 April 2018.