IBPYP - Essential Elements: Concepts

The PYP has established eight key concepts that are used to drive the curriculum. These key concepts are considered to be of major significance to students, regardless of time or place, within and across disciplines. The table below explains the key question associated with each concept and the definition as understood by the PYP.

Key Concept

Key Question



What is it like?

The understanding that everything has a form with recognizable features that can be observed, identified, described and categorized.


How does it work?

The understanding that everything has a purpose, a role or a way of behaving that can be investigated


Why is it like that?

The understanding that things do not just happen, that there are causal relationships at work, and that actions have consequences.


How is it changing?

The understanding that change is the process of movement form one state to another. It is universal and inevitable.


How is it connected to other things?

The understanding that we live in a world of interacting systems in which the actions of any individual element affect others.


What are the points of view?

The understanding that knowledge is moderated by perspectives; different perspectives lead to different interpretations, understandings and findings; perspectives may be individual, group or disciplinary.


What is our responsibility

The understanding that people make choices based on their understandings, and the actions they take as a result do make a difference


How do we know?

The understanding that there are different ways of knowing, and that it is important to reflect on our conclusions, to consider our methods of reasoning, and the quality and the reliability of the evidence we have considered.

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