The IB Learner Profile in Geography


This page develops an interpretation of the IB Learner Profile for Geography. It runs through each learner quality and discusses how this quality can be applied to Geography through skills and concepts and ways of thinking.

The IB Learner Profile

The aim of all IB program is to develop students and their school communities to become responsible  local, national and global citizens. With this aim the IB have developed the IB learner profi­le. They include 10 attribute values adopted by IB World Schools. The following IB video introduces them.

The IB Learner Profile in Geography


The IB describes the inquirer as follows:

' We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of  learning throughout life'.

Inquiry is an essential skill of the geography student and every Geographer tends to be bursting with curiosity about how our planet works. Inquiry can and should be developed in lessons, through imaginative hooks that spark a student's independent thinking. Thinking skills and active reading and listening activities all help to focus students on inquiry. Creating opportunities in the design of the curriculum for independent research and extended reading.


The IB describes the knowledgeable learner as follows:

' We develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines. We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global signifi­cance '.

Knowledge is an important pillar of the IB Geographer skill set. It is essential that students can accurately define terms, show fluid use of specialized vocabulary, provide reasoned argument that is well supported with place exemplification. This is achieved through in-depth case studies and smaller place examples.


The IB describes the thinker as follows:

'We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyze and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions '.

Together with balance geography instills critical thinking. Geography students should become aware of the roles of different key players, their interests and influences as well as points of conflict and agreement between them. A deep geography skill is that ability to show awareness and empathy towards different interest groups and develop critically balanced argument. Geography students are focused on spatial and temporal change and so develop a unique critical awareness of place, difference and  interconnection. Combined with a rigorous theoretical and conceptual framework geography creates well informed critical and empathetic thinkers.


The IB describes the communicator as follows:

' We express ourselves confi­dently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups'.

Through developing resources and case studies in our teaching from a range of geographic contexts the IB Geographer develops a nuanced view on the perspectives of other individuals and groups and so offers a deeper understanding of interculturalism in the way they collaborate with others. This skill rooted in understanding and empathy of the other enables geography students to thrive in group situations and empowers them to be future global citizens.


The IB describe the principled learner as follows:

' We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences'.

The Geography curriculum brings issues of integrity alive through its themes. Climate change, poverty reduction, refugees, conflict, conservation, indigenous rights and many more are all present in the curriculum. In some of the science based topics within the subject students become aware of scientific community in peer review. This is particularly evident in climate change. The rigor of the internal assessment develops academic integrity whereby students are responsible for recognizing the work of others and presenting their work in an honest way. In lessons students should be encouraged to reference the ideas of others in their work.

Open Minded

Th IB describes the open minded learner as follows:

'We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience'.

The Geographer is naturally open minded through their awareness of the roles of different key players, understanding of different cultures and empathy towards issues and marginalized groups in disadvantaged circumstances. Geographers ar taught to be critically aware and nuanced in their argument. In lessons we often teach on conflicting issues and students need to be open minded to appreciate the different points of argument. It also important that students offer their personal perspective and take a position. However this position needs to be balanced and well supported.


The IB describes carers as follows:

' We show empathy, compassion and respect. We have a commitment to service, and we act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around us'.

Empathy is an important concept in geography and is essential to developing well rounded, balanced  geographical thinkers. Caring begins with relationships. Relationships with each other relationships with the environments. It is through relationships that a genuine willingness to care develops. Geography has a critical role in creating opportunities to build closer relationships with the physical environment and with different groups in our local and global society.

Risk Takers

The IB describes the risk taker as follows:

'We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and cooperatively to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change'.

Not every student can be a risk taker because it often takes a lot of talent and skill to make it work. You can't necessarily teach this quality either, but it should be encouraged. Risk takers show academic flair. They take a stance and develop a personalized argument that is well supported. They tend to avoid balanced argument for the sake of balance. They show an understanding of different points of view but fully justify their own. IN extended writing students should be encouraged to take risks in their introductions and build their argument from their.


The IB described the balanced learner as follows:

'We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives intellectual, physical, and emotional to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live'.

Balance is important and has already been referred to in terms of developing caring and open minded critical thinkers. geography builds it through developing the range of places and groups. Group work is also an important aspect of lessons. Balance can be developed through pair and share activities and group discussion where listening and negotiation skills are developed.

The holistic aspect of balance can be achieved in geography through outdoor learning opportunities. Every effort can and should be made to make the most of the school campus and community in lessons and fieldwork opportunities. Outdoor learning enriches the learning experience and excites students making learning more fulfilling.


The IB describes the reflector as follows:

'We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development'.

Geography with its different perspectives challenges one dominant way of thinking. We should be critically examining in our lessons concepts from development models to the westernization of global culture, challenging ideas such as the effectiveness of fair trade to the rights of nation states to deforest. Through a full appreciation of  interculturalism geography students develop a nuanced view of the world. This way geography plays a key role in the IB's mission to nurture individuals and groups to become responsible members of local, national and global communities.

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