In this article you will read about a grade three student sharing with her classmates an awareness of risks and challenges in childhood as part of the “sharing the planet” unit of inquiry.
Teaching is a challenge, because it is not only about building students’ knowledge; it is also about teaching them to respect and value themselves, others and the world around them. Life is complex, society is changing and the current outlook can be worrisome. Our students are facing risks and challenges every day and we need to be their guides. One of the greatest advantages that we have in our programme is the way our students develop their skills through curiosity, appreciation and cooperation that empower them to impact their context through actions.
This reality touched the students from third grade at Gimnasio del Norte when they started inquiring about difficulties that children encounter. One of my learners became curious when she saw connections between her mom’s job and with the “sharing the planet” unit of inquiry. Her mom works at an organization that helps and supports children who have been born with a “cleft palate”. Children who are born with congenital malformation usually face the rejection of other children. So, the student’s mother shared with us the way she works with a huge team of audiologists, pediatric dentists, psychologists and other specialists. The student was reflective when she showed us that every person has some rights that society must respect and that adults must watch over children.
But that was not enough for her. In a very spontaneous and independent way, the student thought that she should display additional vulnerable children’s situations in order to raise awareness with her classmates. She took advantage of a trip she had with her family to Amazonas, South of Colombia, to interview some native people from that region. She then shared their perspectives with the class about risks and challenges that children face from Amazonas, such as poverty, going to the school through the rain forest, lack of adequate clothing or school supplies, and lack of medicine and hospitals.
This is just one experience of many. It is amazing to see how our students make meaningful connections to what they have learned, applying real life skills that evidence their comprehension and enduring understandings through concepts. In this case, something that seemed to be simple, became awesome, not only for that one particular student, but also for her classmates and teacher.
Nelly Quijano has worked as a PYP teacher for 10 years, enabling her students to make meaningful changes through positive actions that contribute to a better world. Nelly is currently a homeroom teacher at Gimnasio del Norte in Bogotá.