“We’re going on an expedition!”

How exciting does that sound? OMG! We’re doing what???!!

Announce the title of this post to your students and behold the wonder in their eyes!

What could an expedition sound like / feel like / look like? What could be possible on such a journey? Unpack the word ‘expedition’ and feel the buzz!

To me, at least, the word expedition conjures up images of adventure, a magical journey, a celebration, something to prepare for, to challenge yourself, to push yourself beyond what you thought possible. Sounds familiar?

(Anyone, anyone…?)        That’s right, The PYPx!

Currently, the ‘x’ doesn’t stand for expedition, it stands for exhibition. Each year I spend quite some time explaining that our exhibition is about the process more than the final product which will be shown on the staging days. People look bewildered as to why I’m describing an exhibition as being more about the process, rather than a product.

During the unit itself, we hold parent check-ins every Friday. Students have a process journal; a giant scrap book which shows their learning journey. On staging days we show a video in the ‘PYPx Cinema’, emphasizing the process, the journey, before visitors are invited into the staging area.

However, for many people it remains to be all about the ‘product’ to be shown on the staging days. Some parents see it as a chance for them to try to help out, ‘science fair’ style (if you know what I mean), or to put pressure their children into performing well on the big days. Whilst I’m sure they mean well, this can lead to increased stress levels surrounding the entire process, detracting from the experience and devaluing the journey.

As educators, this is certainly not our intention.

Some people simply cannot get past the image of, well, an exhibition, when hearing the word ‘exhibition’.  Perception is, after all, reality.

Let’s consider what the dictionary has to say (oxforddictionaries.com):


“A public display of works of art or items of interest, held in an art gallery or museum or at a trade fair.”

(Hmm, no wonder the misconceptions persist!)

From the same dictionary:


“A journey undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose, especially that of exploration, research, or war.”  (Exploration, research… I love it!)

“setting out with aggressive intent”. (An aggressive inquiry…WOW!)

I suggest that we can solve this with a simple word change. A few letters, to make a world of difference.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this, and I’ve made a 1 question Google Form to get your personal decision on the matter.

Who’s joining the PYPxpedition?

UPDATE: March 16th 2019

40 people have responded so far to the simple question “Exhibition or Expedition?”

Here are the results:

Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 9.32.47 AM.png

20 thoughts on ““We’re going on an expedition!”

  1. Great post Graham, for many different reasons. Firstly, just for starting your own blog Expedition. Secondary, you do raise some valid points about the essence and meaning between Exhibition and Expedition. I tend to agree with you, the language we use is important. We need to say what we mean and mean what we say. Learning is a trek, an exploration full of discovery and mystery. Metaphorically speaking, it all makes perfect sense. Whether it be blow the ocean, jungle, arctic circle, desert….. every exploration is unique and different. You need to pack a different bag and clothes to brace for the elements and the animals, not to mention the landscape. What do you bring along with you to the expedition, and how do you navigate and be a problem finder to survive and experience. It is a lot like learning – like life.

    Thrilled to have you on your own self-exploration journey with this blog. I look forward to learning more about your ideas and what makes your blood boil too. This is the perfect landscape for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Go Graham! Welcome to the blogging expedition. You raise important points in this post that have been causing us tension at my school too. Why call it an exhibition and then spend so much time ensuring everyone understands it’s not an exhibition?! Makes no sense, does it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback Edna. I pinpointed this as a cause of tension, and if we can resolve this, it can only be a good thing. Thanks too for tweeting it 🙂


      1. Great Stuff Graham! Spot on as well, the language we use so often steers our thoughts and therefore our actions…So why not change the language? Looking forward to following your blog too! All grown up eh? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “People look bewildered as to why I’m describing an exhibition as being more about the process, rather than a product.” I feel so much better knowing other pyp teachers across the globe have had this exact experience! Helps me know I’m wasn’t just “doing it wrong.” 🙂 I absolutely love the idea of it being an expedition, not just because we truly wish for them to focus on the process over product, but because of the sheer wonder that word evokes, as you described in those first few sentences!

    Thanks for the excellent post, Graham!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Powerful.. What happens when we play with language. I love Expedition.. i agree it gets the thinking away from a “science fair” idea to something bigger and more exciting.


  5. I am joining the expedition. I totally agree with you Graham and would love to rename the Pyp exhibition as Pyp expedition as language shapes the way we think. Great initiative!!!!! will follow your blog for further updates.


  6. Hi PYP Chef!
    Every year I discuss the exhibition with students, teachers, parents and administration and try to emphasise process. It takes time to shift their mindset and view the exhibition day as a celebration of the journey rather than the finish line.
    Sitting to ‘expedition’ makes a lot of sense and I love the cinema idea ‘let’s eat popcorn and celebrate the great work!’
    Thanks for the great post 👍


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