Conceptual Understanding

‘A concept is a “big idea”—a principle or notion that is enduring, the significance of which goes beyond particular origins, subject matter or a place in time (Wiggins and McTighe 1998). Concepts represent the vehicle for students’ inquiry into the issues and ideas of personal, local and global significance, providing the means by which they can explore the essence of a subject’. IBO Principles to Practice 2014

Conceptual understanding is organised in two ways in the Middle Year Programme at AIS. Key Concepts are broad principles that go across all subjects, linking them together with a wide variety of content from around the world, containing powerful and meaningful ideas that allow students to make real connections between subjects. Examples include communication, communities, culture and systems. Related concepts are the important principles or ideas within a subject that allow the teacher to go into depth in that subject, arising from student inquiry and the processes and skills that are taught in a particular discipline. Examples include genre, purpose, power, energy, measurement, audience, movement and invention.

Global Contexts

Teaching and learning in Aarhus International School Middle Years Programme entails understanding concepts in context.

Each subject has several units a year. Each unit combines the conceptual understanding that the teacher wants the students to have at the end with a 'global context'. When teachers select a global context for learning, they are answering the following questions.

  • Why are we engaged in this inquiry?
  • Why are these concepts important?
  • Why is it important for me to understand?
  • Why do people care about this topic?

These contexts build on the transdisciplinary themes that structure teaching and learning in the PYP.

PYP Transdisciplinary Theme

MYP Global Context

Who we are

Identities and relationships

Where we are in place and time

Orientation in space and time

How we express ourselves

Personal and cultural expression

How the world works

Scientific and technical innovation

How we organize ourselves

Globalization and sustainability

Sharing the planet

Fairness and development

Global contexts give insight into how to be internationally minded by promoting multilingualism, intercultural understanding and global engagement.

Over the course of their studies at AIS, MYP students will encounter all six global contexts. Each global context has several explorations to follow for student to dig deeper into why their unit matters.

Identities and Relationships

  • competition and cooperation; teams, affiliation and leadership
  • identity formation, self-esteem, status, roles and role models
  • personal efficacy and agency; attitudes, motivations, independence; happiness and the good life
  • physical, psychological and social development, transitions, health and well-being, lifestyle choices
  • human nature and human dignity, moral reasoning and ethical judgment, consciousness and mind

Orientation in Space and Time

  • civilizations and social histories, heritage; pilgrimage, migration, displacement and exchange
  • epochs, eras, turning points and ‘big history’
  • scale, duration, frequency and variability
  • peoples, boundaries, exchange and interaction
  • natural and human landscapes and resources
  • evolution, constraints and adaptation

Personal and Cultural Expression

  • artistry, craft, creation, beauty
  • products, systems and social constructions of reality; philosophies and ways of life; belief systems; ritual and play
  • critical literacy, languages and linguistic systems; histories of ideas, fields and disciplines; analysis and argument
  • metacognition and abstract thinking
  • entrepreneurship, practice and competency

Scientific and Technical Innovation

  • systems, models, methods; products, processes and solutions
  • adaptation, ingenuity and progress
  • opportunity, risk, consequences and responsibility
  • modernization, industrialization and engineering
  • digital life, virtual environments and the information age
  • the biological revolution
  • mathematical puzzles, principles and discoveries

Globalization and Sustainability

  • markets, commodities and commercialization
  • human impact on the environment
  • commonality, diversity and interconnection
  • consumption, conservation, natural
  • population and demography
  • urban planning, strategy and infrastructure

Fairness and Development

  • democracy, politics, government and civil society
  • inequality, difference and inclusion
  • human capability and development ; social entrepreneurs
  • rights, law, civic responsibility and the public sphere
  • justice, peace and conflict management
  • power and privilege
  • authority , security and freedom
  • imagining a hopeful future

Reference: IBO MYP Principles into Practice