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Tweens and Minimalism: A Parent's Observations

How would studying the topic of minimalism affect the views and opinions of a group of Grade 6 students? Most Tweens are well on their way to becoming savvy consumers and a lot of their time is focused on what 'stuff' they want to buy. Maybe six weeks of intensive study of minimalistic concepts will change the way they look at material items. I'm not sure, but I 'm very interested to find out.

Our son currently attends an International Baccalaureate® (IB) school and has just embarked on his Primary Years Programme (PYP) Grade 6 Exhibition Project. The overall theme for the PYP Exhibition this year is ‘Who We Are’.

Students are put into groups and choose a sub topic within that broad idea and our son’s group chose minimalism. After learning about the process and expectations of the PYP Exhibition I think that we as parents have just as much to learn from this project as do the students.

The official IB international site ( describes the PYP Exhibition as an

….encouraging, in-depth, collaborative inquiry project that takes place in the final year of the PYP. This involves students working collaboratively to conduct an in-depth inquiry into real life issues or problems. Students collectively synthesise all of the essential elements of the PYP in ways that can be shared with the whole school community. It also provides schools and students with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the transition of learners to the next phase of their education.

Part of the IB Learner Profile is reflection and after our introduction to the PYP Exhibition I found myself looking inward, curious as to what we, as parent will get out of this experience as we watch our children go through it.

What will we learn about minimalism viewed through the eyes of Grade 6 students?

When the passion of a student really shines through it permeates all aspect of life in and outside of school. How will that passion affect our family? Perhaps our house will be transformed from the cluttered chaos of three busy children to a zen like household with fewer material possessions. Too ambitious for a six-week project?

There are a variety of ways the students can approach the concept of minimalism and I am interested in following their path of research to see how they define it. Although the PYP Exhibition Project is an independent group project, as parents we have been energized by their chosen topic of minimalism.

It is only day 2 of the PYP Exhibition process and we have already sent an article to our son that describes one way to look at minimalism. If our son had checked his email he might have rolled his eyes at this.

The article looks at minimalism as an opportunity to pursue happiness and argues isn’t solely about having less material possessions. The philosophy places a strong emphasis on what value is attached to the possessions you have or chose to keep and then asks how do those possessions contribute to your overall happiness.

I think the added layers of looking at possessions and asking how do they bring you happiness or how do they help you achieve your goals are great things for Grade 6 students to consider. They are just at the beginning of their journey of consumerism and perhaps by learning to look at purchases a bit more thoughtfully it will bring them more happiness.


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