My thoughts on the PYP and the MYP

The PYP stands for Primary Years Programme and its the elementary version of the IB/DP programme-the International Baccelaurate programme if I’ve lost most of you by now!

When Dave and I accepted the jobs at TISA, I had NO IDEA we were going to a PYP school-not a clue. When I got there I was shocked:it made me feel like I knew nothing.

The PYP is a bunch of gooble-di-goop, if that’s a word. There are some benefits to the program, and if carefully administered, if can be good. I’ve been in two PYP music programs and if both cases I was able to teach in a “skills-based” manner. However, some PYP music teachers only teach “about” music:they don’t actually teach any music.

At TISA I taught grades 3-5 music. I helped design two of the Exhibitions in terms of the performance. I had choirs sing, dancers dance, and actors act. We devised the scenes and they were great-folksy, but great.

At SWIS (Shen Wai International in Shenzhen), I only taught K-1 music but watched what happened there regarding the Exhibition.the first year we were there,Dave (grade 5) worked carefully with  Sherry, the subbing music teacher(subbing for Laois).Previously Laois had done an excellent job of the Exhibition. Dave set up and taught the rock bands, Maggie, his assistant, with Vivian, taught dances and Sherry taught the choir a couple of my song recommendations. Great work.

Then along came Leigh, a PYP “music” teacher who literally taught NO music. I honestly don’t know how she managed to pull that off. When Dave approached her to help with the Exhibition opening ceremony, she promptly informed Dave that opening ceremonies were not needed in the Exhibition. She said she’d teach the kids a unison song for maybe three rehearsals but that was it. Dave told her that was unacceptable so he’d do it himself. Dave and Maggie and Vivian put it all together. I helped a little bit with the vocalists.

The PYP gives a window for fundamentalists like Leigh who all too willingly follow it like a cult, ready to drink as much kool-aid as possible, in order to kill skills based programs.

Some schools get way too hung up on the UOI for example:that means the Unit of Inquiry.The UOI is basically supposed to be an integrated unit of instruction. SWIS made the huge mistake of thinking they could teach reading,writing,math,socials,science all the time through the UOI.What SWIS doesn’t or didn’t realize was that their clients, ie the kids, could barely read and write English! So instead of teaching those kids they  desperately needed basic skills in reading,writing, grammar, etc, they taught all around it with huge lofty  paradigms.

TISA was a lot better.They actually took the time to teach real skills and didn’t let the UOI swallow up all the school day. SFS started as a long time American style school with skills being at the top of the teaching chain. The PYP has been imposed on them and its interesting to watch the teaching community hang on to the skills, not allowing the PYP to overshadow that process. Good for them.

The one good feature of the PYP for specialists, especially if you have to produce musicals is collaboration is mandatory. In a regular school system, teachers largely just shut their doors and teach in their own fiefdom:there just isn’t built in collaboration time. It’s too difficult. But, in the PYP, collaboration is an absolute must. Sooooo….teachers are used to that mindset, and often, the art teacher, the language arts teachers etc,  willingly volunteer to help out. Also, if there is an expected ASA requirement (after school activity) for teachers,  many teachers and assistants would sign up for my musical or play. That didn’t happen in a regular American/Canadian system. You had to move heaven and earth just to get a teacher to help with costumes or makeup.Mostly it came from the parents, bless their hearts.

Well, here I am teaching MYP Drama. Mostly I am still teaching the same way I always taught. There’s just more paperwork involved and silly rubrics to fill in.

I’m in my last two years of teaching and so ready to quit. It’s been a great 34 year ride but I’m ready to just sub one day in a week in Sd 71. Let’s hope it can happen!

I am glad I experienced the PYP and the MYP. I’ll take some DP courses as well. I just took a DP course in Commedia dell-arte-absolutely loved it.




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