Concept-based Learning

This interesting approach to learning has intrigued me because of its emphasis on ensuring all learning has a purpose and highlighting how the world is interconnected in many ways. A curriculum that can teach pupils this awareness from a young age deserves to be explored in greater depth.

The idea of learning a ‘concept’ rather than facts and statistics has advantages because it means that pupils can understand key elements of the world across a variety of disciplines, as ‘concepts’ can be learned through transdisciplinary learning or in stand-alone topics. Regardless of the topic, the idea of a concept allows pupils to consider wider themes and ideas that appear in the world around us – for example, learning about evolution theory and migration in the 21st Century can be linked through exploring the concept of change. This allows pupils to see how learning about the past affects their future.

In PYP, 7 main concepts are highlighted in the curriculum. These are:

  • Form
  • Function
  • Causation
  • Change
  • Connection
  • Perspective
  • Responsibility

This lists accentuates concepts that should be explored in the curriculum, but the list is not exhaustive.

Concept-based learning is an intriguing idea, however at this stage in my professional development I am wondering how to ensure pupils understand the significance of what they are learning. There is a difference between topics, facts and concepts and as teachers we need to include all in the curriculum, but convey that concepts are key to deeper understanding of the world around them.

One Reply to “Concept-based Learning”

  1. A fair ‘wondering’ Julia. Indeed, what is easier to assess – the acquisition of facts or the development of conceptual understanding? What challenges for the teacher who takes a concept-based approach?

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