15 June 2018

Global Readiness: Is Curriculum Preparing our Learners? MYP, 21C Partnership and ISTE Comparison

Standards Comparison for Global Readiness

Education today must be more than the subject we teach; it is no longer enough to think we can simply act as the sage on the stage to deliver and impart our ‘wisdom ‘to learners. This is especially important to bear in mind if we want to educate a generation who will be able to compete in a global market. Crucially, we need to engage, excite, and redefine learning, and facilitate our students in gaining specific-subject skills, as well as crucial life-long skills that will allow them to compete in an ever-expanding global society. This paper examines the extent to which subject-specific curriculum standards address other crucial aspects that prepare learners for the global workforce. It compares them with 21st Century Partnership Skills and also with ISTE Standards to weigh up the extent to which each addresses global perspectives, global citizenship and global collaboration.

Standards Selection

The International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) Middle Years Programme (MYP) is a framework that aims to support learners in making “connections between their studies in traditional subjects and the real world” (2017). Through the “development of skills for communication, intercultural understanding and global engagement”, the programme “encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers” (2017), which the MYP considers as “essential qualities for young people who are becoming global leaders” (2017). Ten essential learn profile attributes form the core of the programme, and the framework is underpinned by a conceptual approach to learning, where units are planned using one of six possible global contexts and subject related concepts. Eight subject group areas are studied, for which each has a set of subject-specific standards. All units are tied together by five Approaches to Learning skills that transcend subjects: Thinking, Social, Self-Management, Communication, and Research. Similarly, 21st Century Partnership (21C) Skills comprise life-long interdisciplinary skills that span all subjects, whilst ISTE standards for Students (2016) focus on essential technology-based skills that prepare learners to be part of a digital workforce. In regards the MYP curriculum standards, this comparison examines both the Year 1 (Grade 6) Language and Literature (LAL) standards and the Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills, as both are required for meeting the requirements for an MYP unit. There are a total of fifteen MYP LAL standards and five main ATL categories in ten sub-categories with over 150 standards in total therefore, the three global areas of citizenship, perspectives, and collaboration have been used to focus the selection. One relevant standard for each of these three global areas has been selected from both sets of MYP standards along with comparable standards from both the 21Century and the ISTE Standards for Students. In this respect, an all-rounded approach necessary for a global education has been considered, addressing skills that are subject specific, life-long interdisciplinary, and technological.

Standards Comparison

Using the lens of the three global areas helped focus the comparison in terms of global readiness and defined how to select relevant, appropriate standards. In some cases, it would have been possible to choose more than one relevant strand but, for equity, only one per programme was selected. A notable exception to this is in the area of global collaboration, where there is no specific strand in the MYP LAL standards that addresses this explicitly. A summary of the comparison of the selected standards is shown in Table 1.

Global Citizenship. For both the MYP LAL and ATL standards, the focus for an understanding of global citizenship comes from an emphasis on ensuring learners are able to use accurate citations. In a cut and paste society, where many learners do not fully comprehend the notion of plagiarism, it is crucial that we address this directly in our teaching. In English lessons, LAL and ATL strands can be utilised when teaching presentation skills in terms of the use of information, which ties in with both the standards selected from the 21C and ISTE. Many learners are simply not aware that copying and pasting both information and images is ethical and legally wrong. In bringing an awareness and understanding of this, we also have an obligation to teach them how to ensure they are using citations accurately, which the MYP LAL and ATL standards address. The IB Learner Profile (IB LP) attribute of being ‘principled’, so as to act with integrity, is also relevant here.

Table 1

Comparison of a Selection of Standards addressing Global Citizenship, Global Perspectives, and Global Collaboration between the Middle Years Programme, 21st Century Partnership and ISTE Standards for Students

Area of Comparison
Middle Years Programme

21st Century Partnership

ISTE Standards for Students
Standards Comparison in Brief
Language & Literature
Year 1
Approaches to Learning
Global Citizenship
B: Organising iii
Use referencing and formatting tools to create a presentation style suitable to the context and intention
Research: IV Information Literacy
Create references and citations, use footnotes/endnotes and construct a bibliography according to recognized conventions
Information Literacy
Possessing a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information
Digital Citizenship 2c
Demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.
MYP LAL and MYP ATL: Emphasis on ensuring accurate citation and use of this information using conventions
21C and ISTE: Emphasis on need for an understanding of ethical and legal use of information
Global Perspectives
C: Producing Text i
Produce texts that demonstrate thought and imagination while exploring new perspectives and ideas arising from personal engagement with the creative process
Thinking: X Transfer
Inquire in different contexts to gain a different perspective
Media Literacy
Examining how individuals interpret messages differently, how values and points of view are included or excluded and how media can influence beliefs and behaviors
Creative Communicator 6c
Publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences
ALL: Focus on thinking about other differing perspectives, what influences those beliefs - either personal experiences or external factors - and how different audiences may interpret the same information
Global Collaboration
Social: II Collaborative
Use social media networks appropriately to build and develop relationships
Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
Bridging cultural differences and using differing perspectives to increase innovation and the quality of work
Global Collaborator 7b
Use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints
MYP LAL: Limited; no specific LAL standard relates to collaboration
MYP ATL: This specifically addresses the use of social media
21C and ISTE: focus is on using differences in experiences that arise from global collaboration through technology to increase quality of work

Global Perspectives. This is the area in which all four sets of standards are in closest agreement. All four focus on the need to teach learners an awareness of the fact that there are many differing perspectives in the world. In addition, the standards all address a need for learners to think about factors that influence those beliefs - albeit from personal experiences or external factors such as media bias. In addition to this, in terms of the creation of texts, which is a focus in English, we must explicitly teach children that different audiences will bring different experiences and perceptions to their interpretations of a text, which can result in many differing understandings of the same information. Issues of bias, misinformation, different belief systems, and extent of global experiences are crucial here. This can be a delicate matter in some classrooms and educators must think carefully about ensuring that all voices are heard and considered. In an MYP classroom, bringing in the IB LP attribute of being ‘open-minded’ helps ensure that students understand the need to think about and acknowledge differing perspectives, which may sometime be ones they are not entirely comfortable with.

Global Collaboration. Collaboration is an essential skill and one I emphasise in my classroom every day; it came as somewhat of a revelation then, when I realised that there is actually no specific MYP LAL strand that directly addresses this skill. However, when designing a unit in the MYP framework, teachers never simply use the subject-specific standards. ATL skills must also be used and, therefore, any task can be collaborative if the teacher deems it necessary for the class and/or task. Indeed, whilst there is no one LAL standard for collaboration, there are in fact fourteen specific ATL strands, as part of the Social ATL. The selected standard for this comparison relates to the use of social media, which can be used for global collaboration between classrooms and can be utilised in the English classroom in creating, sharing, and discussing texts via blogs, eBooks, Google Drive, Twitter, and Skype, to take learning and conversations beyond the walls of the classroom. These tools tie in directly with the 21C and ISTE standards for global collaboration. The focus is on using differences in experiences and perspectives that arise from global collaboration through the use of technology, with the specific intent to broaden understanding and increase the collective quality of work produced. Interestingly, through completing this comparison, I have also realised that not one of the ten IB LP attributes address collaboration or creativity, which are, inarguably, crucial skills in today’s world.


In terms of global citizenship, the 21C and ISTE strands focus on developing and understanding of when to use citations and why there is a need to do, whilst the MYP strand focus is on the means to do so accurately. However, they all complement each – the when, the why, with the how. All four sets of standards are in agreement that, when learning to be an effective global citizen, students must both understand the need to cite, as well as methods to do this accurately. The area of comparison with most congruence is that of global perspectives. Having this awareness is an everyday occurrence in an international classroom but may not be something that educators with limited global awareness or experience in international situations may consider. Therefore, strands that address this requirement are crucial in training the next generation to be open-minded in terms of the myriad global perspectives they may face in future employment. The focus on collaborative understanding resulting in improved quality of work is a very interesting frame with which to view the outcome of global collaboration. Hargadon (1999) found that “teams often create novel and unexpected combinations of knowledge in ways that individuals could not” (Kim, Lee, D., Lee, Y., Huang, & Makany, 2011) because individuals within a team have to have the ability “to utilize others’ knowledge as well as develop their own” (Bhappu et al., 2001; Griffith and Neale, 2001; in Kim et al, 2011). Extending this thinking globally exposes us to many differences in the way individuals think and respond to common tasks. The idea that learners can ‘pool’ their skills is crucial; our learners will unlikely be working in isolation in their future employment and indeed, Johnson and Johnson (1986) suggest that there is “persuasive evidence that people in cooperative teams often achieve and demonstrate higher levels of critical thinking while retaining information longer than people who work as individuals” (Gokhale,1995). When learners use their individual intelligences to think critically and to figure out for themselves the how and the why, that is when the collective kicks in, that is when we see “groups of individuals doing things collectively that seem intelligent” (Kim et al, 2011). These communicative intents are the building blocks of the individual’s intelligence, “the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally and to deal effectively with his environment” (Kim et al, 2011). This is the least we owe our learners - learning experiences designed to facilitate in fostering an individual capability and intelligence within a broader perspective and awareness that will allow them to develop and be ready to operate as successful global citizens.


21st Century Skills Map for English. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/our-work/resources/for-educators#SkillsMaps

ISTE Standards for STUDENTS. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students

Kim, P., Lee, D., Lee, Y., Huang, C., & Makany, T. (2011). Collective intelligence ratio.

Team Performance Management: An International Journal,17(1/2), 41-62. doi:10.1108/13527591111114701

Language and literature guide. (2014, updated 2017). Retrieved from https://ibpublishing.ibo.org/

MYP: From principles into practice. (2014, updated 2017). Retrieved from https://ibpublishing.ibo.org/

Gokhale, A. A. (1995). Collaborative Learning Enhances Critical Thinking. Journal of Technology Education,7(1). doi:10.21061/jte.v7i1.a.2


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