Teaching At the 21st Century Intersection of LEP, NWP, and IB: People, Pedagogy, and Planet

Posted on April 9, 2011

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~~for Kim

Recently, my LEP colleague, Kim Kaseman, posed the following questions to me in an email: Would you say that your work with the International Baccalaureate program and work you’ve done as a consultant on the National/Eastern Michigan Writing project are both rooted in LEP? Or would you say they use LEP as a framework?

These are excellent questions, and I want to thank Kim for nudging me into exploring the ways that the three approaches intersect.
The common themes I see at work in all three approaches are:

  • they are all inquiry-based,
  • they are all inter-disciplinary,
  • and they are all experiential approaches to learning.

Let’s take a look at their mission statements.

LEP Mission Statement

The mission of the Leopold Education Project is to create an ecologically literate citizenry so that each individual might develop a personal land ethic. <http://www.lep.org/>

NWP Mission & Vision

Our Mission

The National Writing Project focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation’s educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners.

Our Vision

Writing in its many forms is the signature means of communication in the 21st century. The NWP envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world. <http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/doc/about.csp>

IB Mission Statement

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right. <http://www.ibo.org/mission/>

Intersecting Visions

LEP envisions an “ecologically literate citizenry.” At the heart of ecological literacy is an important truth: there is ONE earth, ONE race, (the Human race). LEP helps students to realize that our land ethic must consider the interrelatedness of all aspects of life on earth.

NWP “envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.” This is our daily reality, for teachers and students: there is ONE digital, interconnected world of readers and writers, and we all have a part to play in this world.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) “aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” The IB programme emphasizes, through a holistic and internationally-minded approach, that all of our interactions with the planet and its people should be characterized by understanding, respect, and peace.

While NWP and LEP offer excellent and complementary professional development models in training teachers how to engage students at high levels of critical and creative thinking, IB schools offer students an excellent environment in which to practice high levels of critical and creative thinking. NWP and IB share an emphasis on “21st Century Literacies,” but neither addresses the quintessential 21st Century concern: the health of the planet. LEP adds the crucial third leg to the stool of pedagogy (NWP), people (IB),  and planet. All three are critical aspects of 21st Century literacy. What good is pedagogy that isn’t respectful of people? What good are people and pedagogy if we don’t have air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat? How can we have peace in the world without meeting these basic needs? By combining what I’ve learned in LEP and NWP, I can confidently approach my work as a teacher at an IB school.

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