Thus, it is this time of year again! Last month our daring fifth graders started their venture into the exciting journey that is the PYP Exhibition. As this is the second year we are doing the exhibition, I find myself on familiar ground as the team addressed last year’s concerns from the different elements of the project — the kids, t
heir mentors, roles of parents, school facilities, etc.
For this year, we have decided to focus our theme on ‘Sharing the Planet’. The team conducted a comprehensive unlocking and thorough brainstorming of the central idea, the aim of which is to make sure that the theme is maximized and the kids are provided with a lot of options for their topics.
Upon finalization of the topics by each PYP Exhibition Group, the real work begins. I remember embarking on this last year. I likened the experience to that of a blind man finding his way thru a maze, with people guiding him with directions. As the exhibition is self-implementing by design, it is a struggle for me to simply let the kids go and let the process of inquiry take its course. As a tenured teacher, it was a tendency of mine to micro-manage things too much. Teachers have to relegate themselves to a “witnessing” or mentoring role. After all, the ideals, issues and direction of inquiry the kids want to pursue must remain in the forefront.
Finding Out — Living Out
As the students went on their trips to the different places of interest, an immediate change has occurred among them. From the usual attitude of students trudging their way through their assigned task from school, they have taken upon themselves the initiative to look for places/people they believe are essential to their chosen lines of inquiry. As their passion for their chosen topics develops, other aspects of their character seems to align themselves. Students have taken the responsibility to remind each other of mentor meetings and designated tasks. In the pursuit of acquiring more knowledge, school life has elevated itself from the mere accomplishment of tasks, to a sort of lifestyle worth adhering to.
‘Sharing the Planet’ is a very selfless theme as it widens the awareness of the students to the things around them, as well as their involvement in maintaining its balance. One of my groups in particular decided to get involved with abandoned animals and those who were victims of animal cruelty. Their visits to animal shelters have been so moving that eliciting a response action from them was natural, sincere, and meaningful. Another group found themselves appalled by the huge amount of pollution in our water system. A third group got involved with people who live by the principle of conserving energy in their homes. This exposure has eventually led to the “what if” questions which manifests itself in genuine and even sustained action.
A great mentor once said, “Children nowadays do not need teachers anymore. They need witnesses”. Working on the PYP Exhibition provides truth to this. From prior knowledge to taking action, nothing beats experiential mentoring and learning. I guess as mentors, educators, and parents, we find ourselves as the extension of our students. Like the driver to his vehicle, we become the machinery to aid the students in the journey to their destination. We become the conduit to their visions and aspirations. As this leads them to becoming holistic learners, I don’t consider it a demotion, hehe.
We adapt, adjust, and enrich. Such is the call to educate. Such is the call to serve.
Homeroom Teacher Grade 5