Central to all three IB programmes, is the belief that education must extend beyond the intellectual to include not only socially responsible attitudes, but also thoughtful and appropriate action. Learning through experience is fundamental to teaching and learning in IB programmes. In the PYP, MYP, and DP, an attention to service to fellow students and to the larger community both in and outside school is expected of students. Through such service, students are able to grow both personally and socially, developing skills such as cooperation, problem solving, conflict resolution, and creative and critical thinking, as well as developing their own identities. It is also through service that IB students may make the connections between their academic studies and real life. These actions are ways in which IB students demonstrate their commitment to the attributes of the learner profile. The actions that students choose to take with regard to their fellow students, and to their local or the wider community, may be considered the most significant summative assessment of the efficacy of the IB continuum of international education.
In each of the programmes, the role of the teacher in enabling students to choose their action, in facilitating this action and encouraging students to reflect on the action they undertake is vital. What is encouraged or required of students in this dimension of the programme varies according to the developmental levels of the students and what is acceptable and reasonable for particular age groups. There is a clear continuum in the “action” of the PYP, “community and service” in the MYP and “creativity, action, service” (CAS) in the DP. The terminology differs, because it describes as accurately as possible the component for that programme, each of which has some particular characteristics, but the principles are the same.