Memories of IDL in Primary School

When I think back to Primary School, there are definitely certain IDL topics that I have really fond memories of learning, however there are also years where I have no idea what topics we looked at. I remember in Primary 5, our topic was The Jacobites. I think that I remember this topic well because of the wide range of learning experiences and opportunities we were given. We were even taken to Culloden where we got to stand on the field where the battle happened and ran across it as the Jacobites would have done! We were given the chance to fully emerge ourselves in our learning through dress up and artefacts at the Culloden Visitor Centre. I think that this has been one of the most memorable experiences for me in Primary as it was so exciting! By taking us to a place where we could fully engage in what we were learning, it also encouraged our natural inquiry and so we were all asking questions, wanting to know more about everything. I also remember being so excited about recognising certain things that we had learnt about in the classroom through visuals, but actually seeing them in real life. This learning has been so much more memorable than other learning that took place in the classroom. This is not to say that valuable learning like this cannot happen in the classroom – I think that experiences within the classroom can be made equally as exciting with a bit of thought and creativity. This is what I hope to do when planning and leading my own IDL lessons.

Gender Discrimination and Stereotypes

Gender Discrimination 

Gidden and Sutton’s Sociology (8th Edition), section Gender and Sexuality (pages 636-339).

A specific section of the given reading particularly caught my interest, Black feminism. In this subsection, a point was raised by Bell Hooks which I found really interesting, as I had never thought about it in that way before. Hooks wrote how many feminists decided that the general root of their oppressions was due to the fact that the patriarchy was “inadequate” and that because of this, it should be seen as a universal phenomenon. However, Hooks makes a very valid argument, that the concept does not allow for any variety in history or culture and instead ignores any influences made by race, class or ethnicity – any of which may have an effect on the nature of a woman’s status.

Numerous white feminists have written about the difference in levels of self-esteem between white girls and black girls. They claim that black girls tend to have a higher self esteem, which is evidential  through their confidence and assertiveness. According to Hooks, this would be because of their upbringing by parents and teachers, who would have wanted to introduce these traits to their daughters/pupils intentionally, to “uplift the race”.

During the campaign for woman’s rights, early black suffragettes supported the movement. However, as it continued, many realised that even if woman gained more rights, they would still be discriminated against for their race. The question of race could not be ignored. By fighting for gender equality, they would still only have won half of the battle as the course of action did not take racism into account.

Gender Stereotypes

During an input, we were shown a video which explored various stereotypes which follow the phrase “like a girl”. This video is so powerful as it not only shows men’s primary conceptions of the phrase (which would be the expected) but also women’s perceptions of themselves. After showing a few examples of what different people think “throw like a girl” or “fight like a girl” means, the video then shows what a younger girl perceives these actions to be.

It seems a shame that young girls are interpreting “like a girl” as the stereotype that I would have expected to have started to fade away at this point in time. I feel that as a society, we should be teaching young girls and boys to overcome the stereotypes that the older generations have followed for so long and instead encourage them to be who they want to be and like what they want to like regardless of whether it is seen as for a girl or boy.

Similarities and Differences between PYP and CfE

PYP curricular areas CfE curricular areas
Language Language and Literacy
Mathematics Mathematics and Numeracy
Science Sciences
Social Studies Social Studies
Arts Expressive Arts
Personal, Social and Physical education Health and Wellbeing
Religious and Moral Education


The Primary Years Practice (PYP) and the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) are similar in a number of ways. Both PYP and CfE strive to make their students more involved in their learning and give them a choice of what they want to learn. This helps the students to become more engaged and enthusiastic about learning and motivates them to enjoy it more.

The PYP approach is transdisciplinary and aims to focus on various areas of their curriculum as they are learning to give them a broader understanding. The CfE can also be taught in a cross-curricular way, teaching more than one subject at a time to give the pupils more breadth and can also help them to understand the relevance at times if they can see the different areas which their knowledge can be applied in the real world.

The PYP strives to make connections with their learning, helping them to start understanding the world that they live in. This helps their students to develop a sense of compassion and culture and understand and appreciate their own culture and others around the world. While this is a main focus of PYP (and IB in general), the CfE use the curricular area, Religious and Moral Education to teach their pupils about the different cultures and religions around the world. In this way, this aspect of learning seems more of an importance and focus in PYP than it is in CfE.

In the CfE, teaching technologies is an area of the curriculum that can be taught by itself or can be taught cross-curricular, alongside other areas of the curriculum. In PYP, the technologies are not an area of their curriculum as they are expected to be taught them across the areas of their curriculum. So rather than subjects like ICT being individual lessons, the PYP tries to tie it into various lessons throughout their areas of curriculum.

Both PYP and CfE prepare their students for the future, teaching them how to apply their skills and helping them to become life-long learners who are motivated to have ambitions and take opportunities. They both strive to help their students to value themselves and others and build confidence; this is clear from looking at IB’s Learner Profile attributes and CfE’s Four Capacities.



How do IB’s educational trends align with CfE?

Educational trends are constantly changing and progressing. While it used to be very teacher-centred and focussed on academic intelligence, it has now become more important that the students have a choice and are taught a range of different skills and abilities. They are now not only being taught that they must have the same opinion as everyone else, but that they can form an opinion of their own.

Various progressive trends link closely to how the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) aims to teach their students. The CfE is child-centred and this can be clearly seen by their aim and purpose. They strive to develop each child and young person to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors (the four capacities) and this helps to convey that they are entirely focussed on each individual child and also that they are looking to develop a variety of aspects and skills.

It is definitely more of an importance to teach pupils how to not only understand something, but to also be able to analyse it. The CfE deems this important across the curriculum, in the majority of its subjects. Nowadays, children are taught to analyse; texts in English, paintings in Art, conclusions in science etc.

Another similarity in progressive educational trends and CfE is that students should be taught with a criterion to refer to. In CfE’s case, this would be the success criteria, which goes alongside a learning intention. The success criteria help the pupils to understand how they should be completing the task and what is expected of their work.

A trend which is seen in a lot of schools nowadays is open-plan classrooms. Although many schools still use closed classrooms (usually because they are in old buildings), it is preferred to use an open-plan classroom. This may help to create a better, less constricted learning environment to help to pupils feel more comfortable.

The IB Learner Profile and CfE’s Four Capacities

The IB learner profile consists of 10 attributes that the programme strives for their students to develop throughout their school experience. All IB learners should work towards being;

  • Inquirers – being curious and developing their research skills while being enthusiastic about learning.
  • Knowledgeable – exploring both locally and globally significant ideas.
  • Thinkers – becoming critical, creative and ethical decision makers.
  • Communicators – being good listeners and confident in more than one language.
  • Principled – being honest, fair and responsible.
  • Open-minded – developing a critical appreciation for own cultures and cultures of others.
  • Caring – showing empathy, compassion and respecting ourselves and others while also being committed to serving the community.
  • Risk-takers – being courageous, resourceful and resilient.
  • Balanced – balancing intellectual, physical and emotional wellbeing of ourselves and others.
  • Reflective – able to identify our strengths and weaknesses while being thoughtful, realistic and hopeful for the future.

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) has four capacities which are a guide to what all young people can become through development of various attributes and skills;

  • Successful learners – enthusiastic and motivated about learning and determined to get high standards of achievement while being able to use literacy, communication and numeracy skills and think creatively and independently.
  • Confident individuals – having self-respect and ambition while being able to develop and communicate their own beliefs and view of the world.
  • Responsible citizens – having respect for others and being able to understand and accept different beliefs and cultures.
  • Effective contributors – having an enterprising attitude and able to chip in with group discussions while being able to communicate appropriately in different situations and take initiative.

Although the two systems vary, there are many similarities in what they are aiming to develop in each student. Each of CfE’s capacities are similar to at least one IB’s learner profile attributes and is some cases, more than one.

While IB strives for their pupils to be inquirers, CfE aims to develop successful learners and while these have different titles, the concept is the same. Both are teaching their pupils to be enthusiastic while learning and developing various skills. Similarly, both IB and CfE want their students to be respectful of ourselves and others which is clear in ‘caring’ and ‘responsible citizens’. The attributes ‘Principled’ and ‘Open-minded’ also link closely to the capacity ‘Responsible citizen’ as they aim to help students understand how they should act around others and how to understand and appreciate other cultures and beliefs around the world. IB’s strive for the attribute ‘Communicators’ aligns with CfE’s capacity ‘Effective contributor’ as both intend for their students to be able to communicate within group discussions and are not only able to share their own ideas, but also listen to others ideas too. It is clear that the two systems are closely related in the ways that they want to develop their students.

How do the aims of IB align with the aims of CfE?

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an organisation who strive to overcome boundaries separating languages, countries and cultures through education. According to the aims of IB, it is important that students are developing various attributes to help them to become able and enthusiastic to contribute towards creating a better world. These attributes are known as the ‘Learner Profile’. There appears to be a large focus on developing each individual as someone who can build healthy relationships and work alongside others and use their imagination and ethical reasoning to aid them through everyday life rather on how they perform academically.

Although the IB curriculum differs to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), there are similarities in their general goals and aims.

The IB curriculum aims to “create inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people”. In this, we can see similarities in CfE’s aim of “helping children and young people gain the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for life in the 21stcentury, including skills for learning, life and work.” Although Scotland’s curriculum specifies that these skills are relevant for living and working in the 21stcentury, both aims have the same intentions.

While IB aims to ensure that their programmes are challenging and effectively assessed, the CfE has a similar aim to ensure that every child and young person is given the opportunity to progress to the best of their ability in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.

Various aims of the IB curriculum also has similarities to each of the four capacities of CfE.

  • IB’s aim regarding developing the understanding to create a better and more peaceful world and encourage respect conveys the same ideas as creating responsible citizens.
  • IB encourages their pupils to work alongside schools, governments and international organisations and CfE carry this aim through by creating effective contributors.
  • IB works towards encouraging all of their students to become more active, compassionate and lifelong learners and in the same way, CfE strives to create successful learners.
  • The IB curriculum centres on all of its learners and strives to help their students to understand that difference is not a negative trait and should be accepted. This is similar to CfE’s efforts to help each of its pupils to become a confident individual.

During my placement, my class were focusing on the novel ‘Wonder’ as their topic. We did various lessons on accepting and valuing other people, even if they were not the same as you or had different opinions. The pupils were developing their understanding that not everyone is the same, whether it is how they think, look or act and that it is important that everyone is made to feel included, even if they differ from you. This is similar to the IB aim to make sure that their pupils understand that “other people, with differences, can also be right”.

Scientific Literacy and Education

Scientific Literacy and Education

After our most recent science input, we were asked, in groups, to write a short essay discussing scientific literacy and it’s links to education. Following the assessment criteria, these were our thoughts;

Explanation of the concept of scientific literacy;

Scientific literacy is an often-misunderstood term and in recent years, with the increasing demand to make scientific literacy more known in schools, it is more important now than ever to ensure we have the correct understanding of what it means to be scientifically literate.  In this assignment, we will go into more depth about what scientific literacy is and how this can be taught is schools; and also, the impacts of a lack of scientific literacy, especially within the media.

Many see scientific literacy in primary school as learning to spell scientific vocabulary or completing a science-based comprehension. However, while these may be useful for scientific knowledge, they do not teach children scientific literacy.

In a book discussing science in education, it is stated that “scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity” (National Research Council, 1996). This means that people who are scientifically literate should be able to apply their knowledge of scientific concepts to everyday life and be able to confidently explain the theory behind these concepts. They also have the responsibility to dispute reports and inaccurate publicising of scientific information.

Analysis of an example where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media reporting;

An example of a lack of scientific literacy was a paper written by Dr Andrew Wakefield. He claimed that there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. He stated that the combination of the three viruses contained in the vaccine may overload the body’s immune system and that there was evidence that children’s behaviour changed after getting the MMR vaccine. This led to a range of inaccurate media reporting. In turn, the number of children receiving the vaccine dropped significantly as parents were concerned about the risk of autism. This has resulted in preventable outbreaks of measles, such as one in California in 2014 where schools had to be closed.

However, it has been stated that there is, in fact, no link between MMR and autism. After carrying out a study with around 95,000 children, scientists have discredited the work of Andrew Wakefield after publishing their study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Parents have been reassured that the MMR vaccine is safe for their children. After a hearing at the General Medical Council on 28th January 2010, it was ruled that Wakefield acted unethically in his research.

Discussion of how teaching fair testing in school science links to scientific literacy;

It is extremely important for children to be able to gain a good understanding about fair testing. Fair testing allows children to be able to assess and produce accurate results when conducting scientific experiments in the classroom. The concept of fair testing is that only one variable in the experiment is changed at any one time, however, every other variable has to stay the same throughout the experiment. For example, “when testing various brands of kitchen paper to find out which is most absorbent, pupils learn that the size of the sheet of paper and the volume of water used are among the variables that must be controlled if the results are to be accurate” (Inspectorate Evaluation Studies, 2008). Therefore, fair testing in school science has an impact on scientific literacy, as it is important that children understand that changing a variable has an impact on the outcome of the experiment and will allow them to have a greater understanding of the experiment as a whole. Teaching fair testing allows the children to understand that there are no deliberate advantages or disadvantages within the experiment to any of the variables. Therefore, making the information reliable. Fair testing is linked to scientific literacy as the children will be able to perform the experiment and analyse the results. This will allow greater understanding of specific concepts in depth as they will be able to identify the problems within in the experiment.



Finding your voice

Our first lecture in the values module looked at the themes ’empathy and the sociological imagination’. Before this input, we were asked to look through various materials and one video, a talk by Clint Smith, in particular has stuck with me over the last few weeks.

Sharing your thoughts and opinions is a struggle that many people have throughout their lives. Whether this is due to a fear of public speaking, anxiety or just not feeling comfortable in speaking out, it is an issue that can affect both yourself and people around you.

In this video, Smith discusses how at the start of the school year, he reinforces the idea of “telling your truth”. At several points in the video, he revisits the idea and comments on that fact that many people are “listening to what people are saying but barely paying attention to the things they don’t say”. I feel that he is touching on the point that when someone is saying something, there may be an underlying issues. Of course, others may have a different take on this, but this is just what I think it means. Another comment made by Smith which has really stuck with me is – “validation doesn’t need words to endorse its existence”. I really feel that this is a strong statement, explaining that we don’t need people to give us permission or approval in what we say or share. The only validation we need in order to share our feelings and beliefs, is our own.

As a discussion point, we were asked to make a note of how certain issues could be seen as both personal troubles and public issues. By looking more in depth into this issue, we can see how it affects not only yourself, but also other people.

Not being able to speak up in certain situations can clearly be seen as a personal trouble. It may be because you feel you may be judged or that you worry that you may offend someone with differing opinions. This is applicable to all ages, especially schools, I feel. We’ve all been there; not wanting to speak out in class in case our answer is wrong and all the other kids laugh. It’s something that the majority of pupils go through because no one wants to embarrass themselves in front of their peers. Some people may just feel that they are not worthy enough to share their opinions if it is with people of higher status and instead just go with popular opinion. It is unfortunate that people feel this way, but it does happen. Smith states that often instead of sharing our true thoughts, we are just “telling people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear”. I feel that this is something that everyone is guilty of. However, I wouldn’t say that this is always a bad thing and that sometimes, in order to save hurting someones feelings, it may actually be better to tell them what they want to hear rather than what you actually think. (Again, just my opinion; others may differ).

As well as a personal trouble, this can also be a public issue. If no one speaks up to protect someone or something that requires assistance, it may be defenceless and left open to mistreatment, whether that is verbally or physically. This may be rather excessive in some circumstances, but sometimes it is the case. Regarding less extreme circumstances, simply not sharing ideas and thoughts could potentially lead to bad decisions being made in a group because there were little options.

This issue is particularly important to me as being in lecture theatres full of people, I understand why some people may find it difficult to speak up and share their opinions. The thought of being judged by your fellow peers seems scary, but we all just need to remember that we are all in the same position. We may have differing opinions, but surely being in a module focused on Values, we would know not to judge others for their ideas and feelings.

Resource Allocation Workshop

During a recent values workshop, led by Derek, we were put into five tables and given an envelope with various stationary supplies. Although at the time I didn’t think much into the point of this, we were actually going through a valuable process that would teach us the importance of equality and unconscious/conscious bias.

We were told that with the contents of our envelope, we had to come up with an idea that would be helpful for new students coming to the University. The envelope that our table was given did not contain a lot. We looked around the room to see how everyone else was reacting to the limited number of items provided for the task, however we instead saw tables with mountains of supplies, including ‘luxuries’ such as coloured paper and sellotape. Immediately, our table discussed how unfair it was that some tables had been given so much as we were given so little. Regardless of this, we carried on with the task and came up with ideas of how we could best use what we had.

After sharing our initial ideas with the whole group, we then had to make it with our materials. As we were all working on our products, our group noticed that the front two tables were getting a lot of attention and praise from Derek yet we were getting none. I didn’t take much more notice, instead thought that it was probably only because they were the groups closest the him. I felt that with the little supplies we had, our group had done rather well in executing our idea and that Derek would see that when we presented it.

The front two table presented their products first. Derek gave them a lot of praise and raved about what they had come up with and why it was exactly what he was looking to come from this task. The third table were also praised although he was less enthusiastic than he had been previously. However, when it got to the last two tables, he couldn’t seem less interested. As we presented our product, he wasn’t engaged or even listening, and at one point he was even on his phone! By now, it had become very clear that the groups had not been treated equally during this task.

Derek then revealed that this had been the purpose of the workshop, to highlight the issues involving inequality in a classroom and to demonstrate how this can make people feel when they are experiencing it.  This is such an important lesson as it is something that as future teachers, we will all potentially face. When we discussed it, it became clear that the two groups who were given the least resources had noticed the considerable difference in resources and attention. However, the groups that had been provided with the most hadn’t even noticed that anyone had any less than they did or were being treated differently.

The task highlighted how important it is to treat everyone equally because if someone feels that they are being treated differently to others, it can result in them feeling really defeated and demotivated. Especially in schools, this may cause children to become less enthusiastic about learning and even grow to dislike school, which would no doubt affect their attitude towards education and its importance.

This input was such an important lesson, especially for people who will be working with children who come from various backgrounds. It is essential that all children feel valued and included within a classroom, which is intended to be a safe environment where pupils feel comfortable and respected.



Racism and Discrimination Input

Before the lecture,  I didn’t know much about the the terms other than their basic definitions. I watched the three videos given to us which gave me a much greater understanding of each term (racism and discrimination especially). The talk that Clint Smith did on how he was raised was especially informative because I had never thought about it from that perspective before. I thought the reading we were given from Giddens was also really helpful in describing ethnicity and discrimination in a more detailed way.

These were my initial thoughts on what each term meant:

  • Race – Your race is the social/cultural background that a you come from. I then moved on to thinking about racism, which is when somebody is discriminated against directly because of their race. This can be for many reasons but the first one I thought of was because some people may have the mindset that their race is more superior than others.
  • Ethnicity – The social/cultural background that a person is born in/grows up in where they share the same culture, language and history etc. They may also follow the same beliefs because it could be a tradition of that certain ethnic background to follow a specific religion.
  • Prejudice – When you make a prejudgment on somebody but do not have any facts or evidence to back it up. This can also involve being bias or hostile towards someone for no real reason.
  • Discrimination – Mistreating someone or treating them unfairly. This could be due to their race, age, gender or religion etc.

During the lecture, we were told more about each term and how significantly they affected so many people’s lives. I did already know that racism has been a massive issue in the past and definitely still is nowadays but it is still so shocking to hear stories about how far racism can go. This can be seen clearly in various examples we were given during the lecture, but one story stuck with me in particular.

Emmet Till was a young boy who was accused of ‘flirting’ with the woman in a store and was then brutally murdered because of it. The case was taken to court but purely because Emmet and his Uncle (who was identifying the killers) were black and the accused was white, the jury made a quick decision to clear all charges. Only this year, the woman admitted that she had fabricated the whole story and that Emmet was completely innocent. Circumstances like this highlight how racism can escalate to shocking levels, even taking the lives of the innocent.

After the input, I rewatched the video which showed Clint Smith talking about his childhood and how his parents brought him up and found it even more powerful. He explained that he had to be raised with different rules to his white friends because of how others may perceive the actions of a black child in comparison to a white one. The fact that two kids could be treated differently for taking part in the same action solely because of the colour of their skin highlights the level of inequality and prejudice against ethnic minorities.

Before this lecture my understanding of racism and discrimination was fairly basic and looking at the resources provided, plus the lecture lead by Derek, really made me think more into the present significance of racism. It is vital for people who are potentially going to be teaching children to understand how important it is to be accepting and treat everybody equally, no matter what ethnic background someone may come from.