Using SDGs as IDU entry points

I’ve been writing a lot about IDUs lately, partly because I’ve been working to help develop the ID learning programme with my school and that’s naturally where my focus has been. But I’ve also been taking stock of the global events that have been unfolding — either on my literal or metaphorical doorstep — and realising now more than ever that education must be focused on preparing students to solve real-world problems. Notice I did not say preparing students for the real world, which might have been something that I naively said early in my teaching career. Students are already living in the real world. As educators, we need to equip them with the knowledge and skills to tackle the problems that we are facing as a society — and, in the real world, those problems don’t get solved using compartmentalised, disciplinary knowledge and skills.

I’ve been consuming a lot of information lately, too. Not always in long stretches (with 3 kids and multiple plates spinning at any given time, my long-term attention span is not what it used to be), but I’ll read a few chapters here or listen to a bit of Audible or a podcast there. One of the subjects that has caught my attention is the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which I started looking into when they featured in the new DP English syllabus. As I’ve come to understand them a bit better, I’ve realised that the goals themselves are interdisciplinary so could naturally provide an interesting, real-world entry point into an IDU.

Click on the link embedded within the image to learn more about the SDGs and explore the wealth of resources available for all sorts of contexts. I had no idea so many great resources existed; there is an SDG Book Club and ready-made lesson plans for teaching the SDGs to children of all ages — translated into over 10 languages!

This focus on SDGs, provided it leads to an authentic assessment task, could explicitly reflect the form of integration of practical solution (page 19 of the IB’s Fostering interdisciplinary teaching and learning): “Students bring together multiple
disciplines to achieve a concrete, practical goal (create a product, find a solution or develop an intervention). Students begin with a very clear idea of the outcome and identify the disciplinary knowledge and skills they need to reach a specific goal.” The entry point to interdisciplinary planning would be through issues/topics/problems of significance (per the ID teaching and learning support material).

Focusing on SDGs grounds interdisciplinary learning in meaningful, real-life contexts and has the potential to link to other aspects of the curriculum — Service as Action (or CAS in the DP), the Community and Personal Projects. Progression of learning could be evidenced through students’ engagement with SDGs — not necessarily the goals themselves, but the action they take in relation to the goals and the critical and creative thinking that is required of them.

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