​How OWIS uses provocation to nurture critical thinking skills

Posted on 29th Nov 2018 in School News, Singapore, Primary Years Programme

Students who can learn in a hands-on environment hold on to their topic comprehension and take their analysis to new heights. One World International School (OWIS) in Singapore drives this understanding.

A quality education does not simply teach children classroom lessons, but moreover, it encourages their minds to grow as they explore new concepts and ideas. Children learn to look at ideas from fresh perspectives and place themselves in the shoes of others, mastering concepts through experiential learning in the stimulating environment created by our teachers.

At OWIS, children participate in Units of Inquiry that will engage them on multiple levels. These themes invite them to make connections with prior knowledge, develop personal connections and therefore be able to expand their knowledge and worldview. To accomplish these ambitious goals, teachers begin their Units of Inquiry with provocations.

The role of provocations in the PYP

Using the Kath Murdoch inquiry cycle framework, children at OWIS experience a provocation during the beginning of a new inquiry cycle. They are introduced to the central idea of their new Unit of Inquiry while being invited to immediately engage with the concepts.

In our Primary School, we have introduced the new idea of a ‘WOW’ experience. This age-appropriate provocation employs a high degree of creativity to create an immersive and hands-on experience for the children. The children receive the chance to think deeply and solve problems that connect closely with their new Unit of Inquiry.

Seeing the PYP provocations in action

Our EC1 children explored the idea of “through play, we express our feelings, ideas, and show understanding.” Our teachers wanted the children to ask themselves difficult questions, such as “what is play?” and so to stimulate and challenge this notion they removed the toys and games from the classroom.

The confused children entered the classroom and began to enquire after their toys. Sparked by the teacher’s quizzical looks and responses, the children had to stop and think creatively. They invented a game with a cardboard box and found a better way to understand the nature of play. After they finished creating hideaways and toys, they found themselves ready to ‘tune-in’ to their Unit of Inquiry.

In Grade 4, teachers wanted to discuss the idea of migration as a response to risks and opportunities. During the provocation, children were abruptly evacuated to the school field, followed by the canteen, without any explanation aside from a vague idea of danger.

When the children were permitted back into their classroom, they could subsequently begin to discuss and have a greater empathy with the notion of fear, risks, and challenges for migrants in a new way.

A good school teaches children about their world. An excellent school creates an environment where children think, analyse and uncover their own answers and solutions, engaging with materials on a new level. Through our learning provocations, we at OWIS create this environment for our children. The immersive learning style helps students grow, develop and thrive.