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  • Michael

Future skills in Teaching and Learning

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

26 October 2018 [revised 2019]

The Hares and the Frogs

The Hares were so persecuted by the other beasts, they did not know where to go. As soon as they saw a single animal approach them, off they used to run. One day they saw a troop of wild Horses stampeding about, and in quite a panic all the Hares scuttled off to a lake hard by, determined to drown themselves rather than live in such a continual state of fear. But just as they got near the bank of the lake, a troop of Frogs, frightened in their turn by the approach of the Hares scuttled off, and jumped into the water. "Truly," said one of the Hares, "things are not so bad as they seem:

"There is always someone worse off than yourself."

"“Practices of the Future” Series" by Evgeny Kazantsev is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The fable about The Hares and the Frogs is a reminder that we need reflective and compassionate global citizens that can help make the world a better place. Everyone in this world are so unique and different on the outside, but inside we are all the same. These were the words spoken to me by a 5-year old International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) student in Switzerland during their first ever unit of inquiry. This was an absolute summation of the transdisciplinary theme: ‘who we are’. Their central idea at that time was: ‘Learning about personal culture leads to a clearer understanding of identity’. If we are to understand our role as IB educators, we are living, eating and breathing the IB Learner Profile. These 10 attributes that we grow in a school culture is the only way we can live up to our mission, and the opportunities of a better world.

Around the world you can see how education is evolving and replicating particular aspects of what the IB pedagogy is all about. Such an example is how Singapore has taken an IB forward-thinking approach to their educational system, by replacing competition with a focus on one’s own learning development. This has significantly altered the Science, reading and Mathematics results for Singapore. They recognise that social and emotional development, along with the development of skills are what a globally changing economy requires. They see a concept of ‘applied learning’ would provide an education of real-world skills (World Economic Forum, 2018a). The ironic thing about this is that IB schools have been doing this, and more, for years. You can see in the 2022 skills report from the World Economic Forum (2016), it is an exact mirror of the global contexts, transdisciplinary themes, concepts, attributes, skills, knowledge attitudes, and action that both PYP and MYP are already creating. This is to say that we are already one step ahead of many countries in providing our children with the best and most challenging educational program on the planet for all the right reasons.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) has been in existence for about fifty-one years now, and their mission statement is epitomised in the Learner Profile. By having nearly 5000 schools in 153 countries, we all have hope in making a difference preparing the citizens of tomorrow. Education is the only means that can drive positive change, and being part of your successful future.

Wow! Yay! Yippie! This all sounds like the coming of an educational prophet to save us all... not!

However, how open is the IB?

The IB are very strict on copyright infringement and the use and redistribution of their material. Why? From a non-profit organisation with a universal philosophy based on humanism, why so secretive?

This means that all this good stuff from the IB is limited to an elite group of people who can afford it. The rich get richer and the poor stay poor. It is not open.

What does open mean in education?

Openness in education is the future; connectivism (Siemens, 2005). I will go into this a bit further in a new post so you know what openness is all about. It's nothing secretive, go check it out!

Education is a big business these days, and the exorbitant costs in being an IB school for both the family and the school organisation can be draining. It is sad that you see in many countries Teachers being sucked dry economically and professionally due to the high demands and expectations with little or no reciprocating acknowledgement to maintain stability in the workplace. This is specifically written in the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) Pedagogical Leadership documentation on Making the PYP Happen (2009). They are fully aware of the transient nature of IB leaders and staff, and that there can be conflict within IB pedagogical leadership teams due to the varying degrees and expectations of collaboration, distribution and shared responsibilities. One could imagine other educational contexts which are also for-profit or state-funded and have their differences in organisational leadership struggles related to the open concepts and 2022 skills.

These dilemmas within the internal context of IB schools does not reflect what is to come for the future of educators and the skills the children of today require. Just take a look and reflect on what matters now for people in education in the 2022 skills outlook image below!

(World Economic Forum, 2018)

The positive thing about what we can take from the IB is that the values and philosophy is universal and open. These concepts, skills and attributes are not owned by anyone. They are humanist and the understanding that everyone with their differences can also be right is important to be tolerant of and respect. Knowledgeable or open-mindedness may not be the same as it is in one country than another.

Do these 2022 skills relate to the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 4 for education?

Yes of course the do!

So what are you going to do about these 2022 skills in your context?

Better start now because it's only two years away and you'll be behind the rest of the pack before you know it! Don't be scared! Jump, and learn with everyone as we go!


Aesop’s Fables (2007) ‘The Hares and the Frogs’

IBO (2018) ‘After 50 years, how powerful is the IB’s mission today?’

International Baccalaureate Organisation (2009) 'Making the PYP Happen: Pedagogical Leadership', Petersen House, Cardiff, UK.

Siemens, G. (2005). ‘Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age’, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Vol. 2, No. 1., pp. 3-10.

World Economic Forum (2018a) ‘Children in Singapore will no longer be ranked by exam results. Here’s why’.

World Economic Forum (2016) ‘The 10 skills you need to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution’, Alex Gray [online] Available at:

World Economic Forum (2018) '5 things to know about the future of jobs' V.S. Racheva [online] Available at:

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