Experiential Learning and Global Contexts in the MYP

This week, a group of our Grade 10 students will take part in the experiential learning experience.

They will travel to Cambodia where they will have the opportunity to work on a variety of community service projects while staying at Camp Beng Mealea, Siem Reap.

The two main projects of focus will see students partnering with the Beng Mealea community and a local school to assist in the delivery of a wide range of projects and activities.

Further to this, students will be exposed to the day to day life in rural Cambodia. To provide balance to the service opportunities on offer, students will engage in a number of cultural immersion and exploration activities as they explore historic sites such as Angkor Wat and the Floating Markets.

Experiences such as these are an essential part of the IB programmes, engaging students in real-world issues where students learn through experience and reflection.

To illustrate this, let me have a look at the classroom: Academic subjects in the Middle Years Programme (MYP) organize the curriculum into units, each with a statement of inquiry (an overarching guiding statement establishing the purpose of the unit). Each statement of inquiry consists of a key concept, a related concept and a global context. Both concept and context and equally important but it is the global context which often provides the rich real-life application and, as such, contextualizes student learning.

Simply put, it answers the question why are we learning this? ‘The heart of contextual teaching and learning is the connection that leads to meaning. When young people can connect the content of an academic subject … with their own experience, they discover meaning, and meaning gives them a reason for learning. Connecting learning to one’s life makes studies come alive’ (from MYP: From Principles into practice, 2014).

The MYP global contexts are:

  1. Identities and relationships
  2. Orientation in space and time
  3. Personal and cultural expression
  4. Scientific and technical innovation
  5. Globalization and sustainability
  6. Fairness and development.

They are covered in the classroom, but really come alive on experiences such as the upcoming Grade 10 trip.

Through reflection, there will be different takeaways for each student; however, through the global contexts, they all will be able to link what they have learned in the classroom and school in general with real-life applications that go beyond the academic subjects.


Jan Stipek
, Secondary Years Principal

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