Ways of Knowing

IBAEM Regional Conference - Rome 

October 15-19, 2014

“It’s been said that all roads lead to Rome, and in Rome, every road leads to eternity.” This is how Adrian Kearney, the IBAEM regional director, announced the opening of the International Baccalaureate Africa, Europe, and Middle East Regional Conference that took place from October 15 to October 19 in Rome. The head of school, Mrs. Hanadi Jardaly, PYP teacher, Mrs. Narmin Mazjoub, and I had the opportunity to be among 1300 participants who came from different parts of the region contributing to a vast pool of shared knowledge and exploring new ideas and innovative ways of knowing that challenge the learners including leaders, teachers, and students of the 21st century. Thus, Ways of Knowing – the key theme of the conference, was explored in terms of the different components of schooling and education.
“Change”, being a leading power for creating a culture of ongoing improvement and development needed in schools, must be driven by capacity building, collaborative work, pedagogy, and “systemness” as Professor Michael Fullan demonstrated during the pre-conference session on leadership in schools. He discussed the push and pull factors for integrating pedagogy, technology, and change knowledge focusing on the importance of partnership among leaders, teachers, and students to create deep learning that promotes the development of the skills and attributes needed in our world nowadays and what he calls the 6Cs; character education, citizenship, communication, collaboration and problem solving, creativity and imagination, and critical thinking.
Dr. Yong Zhao, in his plenary session on the implications of technology and globalization on education, called for a paradigm shift in education that aligns with the new age - the machine age - and the transformation of its economy. Education systems need this shift to cultivate the talents we need for the new economy where creativity and entrepreneurship have become a must. In other words, our students must be prepared for the economy of the future, which is in need for those who have the ability to create jobs, instead of employees performing skills that have been digitized. Having this need for strong performers, Professor Andreas Shleicher added, we need a transformation in school systems that the IB programmes has been playing a vital role in. Placing a high value on education has to be a priority to achieve change and improvement in societies.
The same issue was also raised by Dr. Cristobel Cobo who emphasized the need for expanded learning and new practices in teaching and learning that provide alternative tools for education that remains meaningful beyond graduation in our digital age. “Tomorrow is definitely not a copy of yesterday”, and that’s why our students today need to learn the skills needed for tomorrow; collaboration, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Educators, however, should be aware about the difference between technology and digital maturity in order to equip students to become technology creators instead of technology passive users.
All those ways of knowing provide a context for learning that is authentic in “where we are in place and time”. Cathryn Berger Kaye, thus, believes that learning has to be “real” rather than “relevant”. She demonstrated how learning takes place in different subject areas in real contexts while students engage in projects through the action and the community and service components of the IB programmmes. All those ways of knowing reinforce our commitment to our mission, as a school in general and as a PYP school in particular, in providing our students with authentic education that equips them to become global citizens who have the ability to adapt with the world and its changing needs.
Being part of this event was an opportunity for us to go beyond our classroom doors and connect to the global perspectives on education. This brings us, as a school, to reflect on our vision and our approaches of reform in teaching learning to continue offering quality education within our school and promoting development of the educational systems in our community.

Rasha Hammoud
PYP Coordinator