Four years of teaching the PYP curriculum and attending an IB Exhibition workshop was not enough preparation for what was in store during the PYP Exhibition. The greatest challenge was leaving the students to their own inquiry with only minimal supervision. Not to mention that, in the beginning, personalities clashed within groups. I was almost sure our first exhibition would be a complete disaster.
However one thing I have learned in 12 years of teaching is that there is something new going on each day. Surprises are right around the corner. As the inquiry got underway, the students became more and more engaged in their learning and would often share new discoveries with one another and with their teachers.
For our first year, the theme was HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES and the central idea was “Self-expression bridges cultural diversity and celebrates individuality.” Teachers anticipated that students would come up with singing, dancing and theater arts as their topics. But like I said, there is something new to learn every day. We were pleasantly surprised by the topics the students came up with. They ranged from cooking and pottery to sports and social media. This wide spectrum provided such a big pool of information that made inquiry so much richer and more interesting for the students.
Our grade 5 students were out all over Jakarta. They were out interviewing experts and celebrities. They were learning how to cook, paint, make batik and do pottery. They became actively involved in sports as well as playing traditional Indonesian games with their friends and creating computer games. Some groups came up with campaigns on how to use social media responsibly. Another group came up with the slogan “love yourself” to remind people to be themselves.
As I watched this exhibition unfold and as I witnessed my students step out of their comfort zones, I am reminded of my favorite Chinese proverb, “The flower that blooms in adversity is rarest and most beautiful of all”. Indeed, it was a difficult time. Some of them would fall ill along the way. Buckets of tears were shed. Yet many of them blossomed quite magnificently and unexpectedly. As Exhibition Day approached, I was confident that these grade 5 students would be able to share the journey of their inquiry to anyone who cared to listen. I am even more confident that this is only the beginning of the many obstacles they will encounter and ultimately conquer.
Ms. Pat Manning
Homeroom Teacher Grade 5
Mentari School Jakarta