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The Power of Thinking: Navigating IB Programmes and Compass Education Tools

As an educator with over two decades of experience in IB World Schools, I’ve devoted much of my career to nurturing young minds. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on one of the core principles I see embedded in the IB programmes: ‘learning to think and thinking to learn.’ This principle resonates deeply with me, and I’ve found that the tools developed by Compass Education, such as the Sustainability Compass and the Systems Iceberg, complement this ethos remarkably well, strengthening the cultivation of critical thinking skills.

Two segments of the IB mission statement have always inspired me: “…help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” and “…to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”, International Baccalaureate Organization, Accessed Sept. 12, 2023. These powerful words remind us of our responsibility as educators to guide learners toward becoming thoughtful, compassionate, and open-minded global citizens.

The IB programmes strive to cultivate diverse thinking skills, emphasising the importance of ‘learning to think’. From the Primary Years Programme (PYP) to the Diploma Programme (DP), its pedagogical framework encourages the development of problem-solving abilities, critical analysis, creative ideation, and reflection. At the heart of the IB approach is a set of attributes guiding the learning process. Key among these are ‘thinkers’, who exercise critical and creative thinking, and ‘reflective’, which encourages learners to evaluate their own thinking and learning processes.

Compass Education tools align seamlessly with the IB’s emphasis on thinking skills. The Sustainability Compass helps students navigate complex sustainability issues by focusing on Nature, Economy, Society, and Well-being (N, E, S, W), fostering critical, holistic, and systems thinking. The Systems Iceberg tool aids students in understanding the structures and mental models underlying observable events. It encourages learners to ‘dive deep’ beneath the surface of issues to uncover root causes and relationships, promoting critical and systems thinking. These tools can be integrated into our IB programmes in various ways, demonstrated through the lessons in this pack.

In conclusion, the IB programmes and Compass Education emphasise the importance of ‘learning to think’ and ‘thinking to learn’. By combining the strengths of the IB framework and Compass Education tools, we can effectively foster learners who are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of the 21st-century world. I look forward to your thoughts and experiences using these tools and approaches in your classrooms. Let’s continue to inspire our learners to think deeply, critically, and creatively as they journey through their educational paths.

Elaine Reimann

Elaine Reimann

Elaine is a Third Culture Adult, born in England UK, to Jamaican parents. She has lived in seven countries across four continents with her German husband, Frank and two sons Joshua and Kaleb. Along with her 18years experience in teaching, learning and several years in leadership, Elaine communicates fluently in English, German and French and can hold conversations in Khmer and Laos language. Elaine holds a Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning primary education, a Master in TESOL and a Certificate of School Management and Leadership (CSML). Elaine is the author of ‘The Supportive Classroom, Language acquisition in a Multilingual Environment for three to five-year-olds’, available on Amazon.

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