paul-morris

Paul Morris is the Series Editor for the MYP by Concept seriesas well as the author of Physics for the IB MYP 4&5, Sciences for the MYP 4&5 and the co-author for Sciences for the IB MYP 1-3, written with Patricia Deo.
 
Paul has taught and learnt in Manchester, Mexico City, Madrid, Paris and is now a DP Coordinator and Deputy Principal at International School of London. Amongst other things he is an education author, working with IB Publications and Hodder Education.
 
 
25 years old
If, like me, you are too busy an educator to realise that milestone birthdays are coming until they are upon you, then perhaps the MYP’s 25th birthday also came as a surprise. Realising that the MYP is 25 years old naturally leads me to look back along my own path as an educator, which is of almost the same duration – particularly at the part of that path that ran alongside the MYP, and the significant people that guided me along it. Where did that time go?
 
As a Physics and Sciences teacher I think that I was lucky to complete my post-graduate training with the department at Manchester Metropolitan University – only looking back is it apparent how forward-thinking that department was. It’s aspirant educators and world-changers were decisively grounded in a constructivist, student-centred pedagogical approach when those ideas were only beginning to make their mark on the edifice of UK National Curriculum. Keith Johnson – author of many a fun Physics teaching resource - was my teaching practice tutor, and from him I first learnt that what counts as authentic for students may not be what teachers think is relevant to them. My proudest moment in those early years was my lunchtime astronomy club, somehow popular in a school that catered in large part to underprivileged families of recent immigrants. Wonder recognises no boundary of class, culture or gender.
 
So I did my time teaching GCSE and A-level in the UK and a wild time in Mexico. When I  encountered MYP in the late 1990s – at International College Spain in Madrid – it was not so much a surprise as a moment of happy recognition. Finally, somebody had actually tried to build a secondary-level curriculum framework around the ideas I’d met as a trainee (I admit I could have met with this revelation elsewhere, but for me it happened to be MYP). I was also seriously lucky to fall into a network there with connections to some of the pioneers – a shout out here to Hubert Keulers in the PYP, Adrian Watts (for the MYP) and in the Sciences Rick Armstrong and later Bill Johnston. Good teachers for this teacher.
 
It isn’t necessarily a straightforward decision to throw all your career chips into a still somewhat boutique, niche basket – thus burning bridges back to the security of a national education system – but the MYP (and the DP, which I continued to teach alongside it) opened creative possibilities that just didn’t exist elsewhere. I am thinking here of what I call ‘MYP v 1.0 / era of the Areas of Interaction’. The MYP demanded that educators metamorphose from caterpillar deliverers of content to butterfly creators of learning experiences. Not everybody was happy with that, as I discovered when I became an MYP Coordinator tasked with moving a school from IGCSE to MYP. But bright spots such as interdisciplinary units organised around the AoIs generated an energy and engagement in both students and participating teachers that spoke for itself. Showing is always better than telling.
 
Yet again I fell lucky – the head of that school, Gareth Jones had the foresight to bring in Learning by Design to train us and when MYP v 2.0 came along (hello Malcolm Nicholson and Laura Swash) it was another moment of welcome recognition. I was engaged as an MYP Sciences moderator and enjoyed working with Colette Crosbie at the IB Cardiff offices; while I’m aware as any of the limitations of that standardisation system, it could be effective as a way to offer schools direct and annual feedback on practice. I worked with Fang Shelley as part of the IB MYP Sciences 2010 Guide review team – so frequently back to Cardiff, and the Victorian elegance of the Angel hotel – and the selection panel for the Sciences Teacher Support Materials.
 
 
Change afoot …
 
While in my view MYP experienced some growing pains at this time, that growth also brought it to the attention of national school systems around the world. Finding myself an MYP Coordinator living and working in London, I learned that some pioneering UK schools had entirely abandoned national curriculum in favour of MYP and others wanted to do so. At International School of London I chaired some of the earliest MYP schools’ meetings via the network that grew to be IBSCA and I was able through this to visit all kinds of school as a consultant, learning what MYP could look like in all kinds of settings.
 
And so to ‘The Next Chapter’ (MYP v3.0?): CBCI (Concept Based Curriculum and Instruction) and MYP e-assessment working together. I consider this a brave – dare I say visionary – attempt to establish a rigorous and reliable, controlled summative assessment that nevertheless has a positive, enriching effect on curriculum through backwards design. With due recognition to Robert Harrison and his team (by then in The Hague), even if things were not quite seamless at first then the foundations were surely there for a stronger global future for the MYP.
 
 
MYP by Concept
 
And so to the MYP by Concept project with Hodder Education. In another article (MYP textbooks? Surely not! – International Teacher Magazine, Feb 2017) I noted how “MYP textbooks” was considered an oxymoron by some. But in MYP Sciences workshops and on school visits in the IBAEM region I was hearing over and again that teachers wanted a clear, fun, authentic resource on which to base their own units and inquiries. The IBO were hearing this, too – they issued an invitation to tender to collaborate on a suite of IB-approved texts and accompanying teaching resources. So in 2014 I worked with So-Shan Au and her team at Hodder Education to design a template that visually combined all those many layers of the MYP curriculum model. Lucky again to have found a publisher with imagination and willing to take a risk on what was – as Robert Harrison put it at the time – “a textbook that doesn’t look like a textbook”! We won the tender.
 
The reception for MYP by Concept has been great; it is such a pleasure to see our materials being used so imaginatively in classrooms around the world. We’re 5 years into the project now and expanding into new subjects, and also ready for second editions soon. Here’s to the next 25 years!