At the heart of the Primary Years Programme’s philosophy is a commitment to structured inquiry as the leading vehicle for learning. Six transdisciplinary themes provide the framework for the exploration of knowledge.
Teachers and students are guided by these themes as they design curricular units for exploration and study. Students explore subject areas through these themes, often in ways that transcend conventional subject boundaries. In the process, they develop an understanding of important concepts, acquire essential skills and knowledge, develop particular attitudes and learn to take socially responsible action.
The Primary Years Programme offers a comprehensive approach to teaching and learning. It provides a complete curriculum model which incorporates guidelines on what students should learn, as well as guidelines on teaching methodologies and assessment strategies. This model is expressed through three interrelated questions shown in this diagram:
What do we want students to understand?
Eight fundamental concepts, expressed as key questions, propel the process of inquiry and help to encourage a transdisciplinary perspective. These concepts drive the research units called units of inquiry which teachers and students design and which lie at the heart of the curriculum model.
The concepts are the following:
- Form: What is it like?
- Function: How does it work?
- Causation: Why is it like it is?
- Change: How is it changing?
- Connection: How is it connected to other things?
- Perspective: What are the points of view?
- Responsibility: What is our responsibility?
- Reflection: How do we know?
What do we want students to be able to do?
The five sets of transdisciplinary skills acquired in the process of structured inquiry are: thinking, communication, social, research and self management skills.
What do we want students to feel, value and demonstrate?
The programme promotes and fosters a set of attitudes that include tolerance, respect, integrity, independence, enthusiasm, empathy, curiosity, creativity, cooperation, confidence, commitment and appreciation.
How do we want students to act?
Students are encouraged to reflect, to make informed choices and to take action that will help their peers, school staff and the wider community.
The Primary Years Programme identifies a body of significant knowledge for all students in all cultures, in six principal subject areas: language; social studies; mathematics, science and technology; the arts; personal, social and physical education.
A PYP school is expected to provide for the teaching of an additional language other than the school’s language of instruction in order to support the international perspective of the curriculum. The additional language offered at Beacon Hill School is Chinese.