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Artwork makes IB learner profile personally meaningful

Visual arts task deepens curiosity and encourages students to reflect on how the attributes influence their lives

When IB Diploma Programme (DP) visual arts teacher Tamara Doleman asked her students at Ashbury College in Ottawa, Canada, to identify the IB learner profile attributes that most exemplified their personalities and create a piece of art, she was most impressed by how they took the challenge to a whole new level.

DP student Carol Rodriguez: “I am the most open-minded when I truly care about something, especially my ideals, which I believe make me a better and more principled person. I decided to use a literal way of showing my caring nature; with an embrace. In my image, the person being held contains all of the ideals that I care so much about.”

Students ventured out of their classrooms to take pictures that represented the attributes and then shared them with the class. “The exercise served to explore the vocabulary and investigate how characteristics can be represented with pictures,” says Doleman.

“We thought about how we saw the attributes in our own lives and identified two or three that were most valuable to us. Then the artwork activity began.

DP student Dulat Sargaskayev: “I have drawn three people in break dance power moves, which represents: risk taker, balanced and thinker – these most reflect me as I am now. Break dance power moves are very risky as everything can go wrong and finish badly, and in order to do power moves and spins, a breakdancer has to be balanced. I represented ‘thinker’ by writing names of various power moves with a question mark in the background. I wanted to show what’s happening in a dancer’s head during their performance. Every move, every step is being thought about before they do it.”

“Working to visualize these characteristics in ourselves allowed the students to own these characteristics and heighten their curiosity in themselves, in me and in each other, as well as celebrate the differences and identify how these traits can vary in how they are expressed. We also had a chance to explore which attributes we are lacking in ourselves, and how particular characteristics are useful in certain environments, courses and professions.”

The artwork is currently displayed in DP Coordinator Shannon Howlett’s office and will be showcased at an upcoming art evening via video. Howlett says: “It was the end product, as well as the thoughtful and intellectually poignant rationales given by the students, that I felt really set this apart from what I have seen previously when exploring the IB learner profile attributes.”

DP student Clanny Mugabe: “My attributes are creativity, risk taker, thinker and principled. Everyone calls me creative, mostly for my love of art and because I’m always drawing. The way I showed off my creativity was by simply drawing. I’m not usually a risk taker but lately I’ve been taking some risks in art, and branching out into different styles and mediums, and I’ve represented that by drawing inspiration from Tinga Tinga art, street art, and using kitenge patterns. I used the owl head to represent ‘thinker’ as they are usually called smart or wise. The blazer represents ‘principled’.”

The activity has positively influenced the school community, says Doleman. “We got to know each other better through the sharing and discussion of the work and also talked about how the DP aims to develop us all. It was wonderful to start with the big picture and to make it relevant and personally meaningful.”

The IB is calling students to showcase their artwork for its 50th anniversary. It’s asking ‘what will the IB learner profile look like in the next 50 years?’ Find out more about how to get involved.