How is our curriculum designed to help create a more peaceful world? Here's a real-life example.

Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) is an essential component of the IB Diploma Programme, one that is collaborative and aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

An experiential learning process with experiential opportunities, Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) is a cornerstone of the IB Diploma Programme, involving student reflections on their myriad CAS experiences and providing evidence of achieving the seven learning outcomes for CAS. These outcomes consist of:

  •    Strength & growth
  •    Challenge & skills
  •    Initiative & planning
  •    Working collaboratively with others
  •    Showing perseverance and commitment
  •    Global engagement
  •    Recognize and consider the ethics of choices and actions

Focus DayEarlier this month, during what is known as "Focus Day", Grade 11 students held discussion forums and workshops with their CAS programme tutor groups. Led by a committee, subjects for discussion included the topics Relationships, Peace, and Reflection, and collaborative workshops and creating visual presentations accented the sessions.

Following the theme of well-being and positive emotions, or the PERMA attributes - Positive Emotions, Relationships, Meaningfulness, Achievement - plus health, the students held a Google Meet in the morning to explore the positive aspects of Relationships and their value to one's life. Suggested was that relationships are important in team sports and when collaborating with others on projects. How relationships can foster peace was elaborated on. "Relationships are about giving positive emotion, and this ties back to peace - world peace", a student remarked.

Being active links to peace, a student presenter mentioned, in that "Activity, movement, releases Dopamine (a positive emotion hormone) and this ties back to Peace – world peace". Body positivity results from activity/being active, and this results in peace, it was contended.

After a short break, the committee provided a quiz for participants to gain better familiarity with the CAS phases and how to locate and navigate the CAS website (on ManageBac). The pupils review the answers as a group; those studying from home are digitally connected, and chime in with their responses.

Next on the agenda, the term Reflection was discussed where a pupil provided a definition and an analogy. A theory proposed was that students are engaging in reflection daily – to avoid repeating negative experiences. Activity time featured a "Dramatics" session called snowballs reflection. The teens were given 'snowballs' of crumpled sheets of paper that contained pertinent text messages that they then read aloud. In subgroups, the teens discussed what reflecting means to them, and opinions shared included, "Reflection is a healthy learning from past mistakes...to grow and have fun". Another student stated that reflection is, "A healthy process by which you can learn from past experiences and evolve accordingly". After the responses were read, they were displayed on a whiteboard. 

Ideas on How to Reflect were deliberated, and included suggestions such as, "Writing notes during and post-incident or experience; applying what you learned into the next experience and repeating". At the end of each day, self-assessment is encouraged, and the beneficial elements of reflecting (eg confidence; observing new opportunities; IQ test scores improve) are noted. An exercise on actively structuring one's reflections was assigned, and in groups, flowcharts were created and shared with the class. The students then reflected on how PERMA could help them.

The morning's activities didn't end there. A subsequent project saw the students creating a "Memory Wall", in which they sketched their favourite CAS experience and featuring digital resources if desired. The youngsters then describe their sketches in groups of four; later they will post these in the dedicated classroom space.

CAS is of central importance in supporting the transformation of students, and as the IB mission states, for developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. Learning outcomes for students to develop skills and expertise are well-established. Participants must show evidence of their 18-month engagement that comprises the three sectors - Creativity; Activity; Service. ICS provides a comprehensive CAS portal that parents can access, and we recently launched a blog on the learning programme.

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