PYP Enhancements: An Agentic Perspective Shift


These are indeed fascinating and envigoring times in the PYP as the PYP Review is about to be published and as the PYP Review team has chosen to use the trickle down teaser style communication model:

PYP Enhancement timeline

This has created some excitement, a buzz in the social media and blogosphere as we received the first Key Communication outlining what we can expect from the launch of the enhanced Primary Years Programme (PYP) in October 2018! The buzz and excitement is focused quite rightly around the term: Agency


But first an important clarification:

This is our graphic illustrating the new organizing structure for the enhanced ; not the new programme model. 1

I would like to focus first to the origin of where Agency, as an educational concept comes from, and on its theoretical background. This was easier said than done as there aren’t any references or links given on this key communication. Therefore this really is all speculation and somewhat hypothetical.

Social Cognitive Theory

My best guess is that the Agency that the PYP review team mean is based on Albert Bandura and his theory of an Agentic Perspective,2 which makes this enhancement really interesting as Bandura, although a cognitive psychologist, agrees quite often with B.F. Skinner.  Bandura views people as Agents (originators of experience) and Human Agency as the ability to act and make things happen. Agency is comprised of Forethought: permits us to anticipate outcomes; Self Reactiveness: allows us to motivate and regulate actions; Self Reflectiveness:  the ability to reflect on our thoughts and behavior and make changes.

What is Agency? Agents act, we are agents

  • We have needs and goals. 
  • We also have motives, wants, & desires 
  • We have intentions and are volitional in our actions 
  • We interpret & evaluate our actions and their consequences 

From our actions (actual & symbolic), we learn: 

  • Contingencies (personal, general, environmental)
  • Personal beliefs about own capabilities

Agency is a sense of personal empowerment 

  • Knowing what it takes and whether one’s got it

The Development of Agency order for us to fully empower our students and enable agency we, therefore, need to facilitate/mediate/guide students to be Autonomous, Competent, and Socially skilled. In other words to foster something that children already by default have but what our processes inhibit: Curiosity, Playfulness, and Creativity. When students have their voice, they then can create their own choices, a have an authentic ownership of their learning.

IB PYP on Twitter. Twitter. Accessed November 1, 2017.
Bandura A. Social cognitive theory: an agentic perspective. Annu Rev Psychol. 2001;52:1-26. [PubMed]
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