Using an IB education to teach and learn in times of crisis

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What is an IB education? 

What is an IB education? provides an overview and explanation of the IB’s educational philosophy. It explains how the organization’s mission and philosophy shape and drive the IB programmes. 

Central to all IB programmes are four foundational and interrelated elements: 

  • The IB learner profile 
  • International-mindedness 
  • A broad, balanced, conceptual, connected curriculum  
  • Approaches to teaching and approaches to learning 

Using What is an IB education? to support students and schools impacted by crisis 

What is an IB education? can equip and empower educators to help students manage their interaction with a crisis. 

Educators can focus on selected aspects of the learner profile (LP – ten attributes valued by IB World Schools), international-mindedness (IM), approaches to teaching (ATT) and approaches to learning (ATL) to understand how they can adapt lessons to help students learning through crisis and learning about crisis.

Learner profile 

  • Open-minded: critically appreciate our own cultures as well as the values and traditions of others; seek, consider and evaluate a range of points of view about a crisis. 
  • Thinkers: use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse complex problems presented by a crisis; make reasoned, ethical decisions in response to a crisis, so that your action is informed and responsible. 
  • Principled: act with integrity, honesty, fairness, justice, respect for the dignity and rights of people impacted by crisis; take responsibility for our actions and their consequences. 
  • Caring: demonstrate empathy, compassion and respect for those impacted by crisis; commit to supporting those in need; make a positive difference to those impacted by a crisis. 

Approaches to teaching

  • Based on inquiry: students find their own information and construct their own understandings about a crisis, suing credible sources. 
  • Focused on conceptual understanding: concepts related to 'crisis' deepen understandings and help students make connections and transfer learning to new contexts. 
  • Developed in local and global contexts: using real-world contexts and examples related to a crisis, encourages students to process new information by connecting it to their own experiences and to the world around them. 

Approaches to learning

  • Know how to ask good questions about the crisis 
  • Develop skills to help to support students’ sense of agency: what can I do about the crisis? What can I do to help others? 
  • Thinking skills: critically evaluate information to help form an understanding of a crisis 
  • Research skills: comparing, contrasting, and validating information related to a crisis. 
  • Communication skills: written and oral communication, as well as effective listening are important skills to develop when learning and talking about sensitive issues; the way we express ourselves and the language we use matters. 


  • Recognize our common humanity in the face of crisis. 
  • Show an openness to the world and a recognition of our deep interconnectedness to others: a crisis is not just someone else's business. 
  • Reflect on your own perspective, culture and identities, as well as those of others: what are the different perspectives on a crisis? 
  • Learn to think and collaborate across cultures: empathize with those involved in a crisis. 
  • Focus on global engagement and meaningful service across communities: what actions can I take or support in relation to a crisis? 
  • Critically consider power in relation to individuals and groups who are involved in a crisis. 

Find out more about international-mindedness: