Advice Column, Child, Education, Parenting

Inquiry based learning

One need only watch a young child spending a day at the beach to realise how fundamental curiosity is as a core trait in natural learning. Feeding the desire to delve into discovering things should be at the centre of all of our planning as teachers of learners of all ages. In a constantly changing world, preparing individuals for future careers is a moot point so we re-focus our efforts on skill, creativity and versatility in a yet unknown landscape in which they will spend their lives. 

  1. We begin by building from what is already known with informal discussion and collaborative tasks where the learners reflect on their existing body of knowledge. It is extremely useful at this point to have some leading questions.
  2. They take the time to wonder about what in particular they want to find out. This makes the inquiry a personal and meaningful one. Once you have a personal investment in the inquiry, the depth of success increases.
  3. During the research phase, the more exposure to different types of resources, the better. This should be student-led and supported by the teacher. Gaining a new perspective is a powerful skill.
  4. With this newfound perspective, this is a good time to reflect back to the original knowledge and pose questions such as; how does this relate now to the new information? It is important to note that learners must be made completely comfortable to change their world view as they discover new things. This leads to a less stressful, more dynamic learning experience.
  5. In the current climate where collaboration in the workplace is vital, our learners need to experience sharing their findings with each other regularly and be open to debate and queries. Often this strengthens and embeds the new perspective.
  6. What next? This is a valuable stage in the inquiry process. Where could this process be pointing us to next? This is a perfect opportunity for group reflection and brainstorming.
  7. This stage is at the end of this particular inquiry but at the cusp of the next one. Consideration is taken of what has been gained, the value of this and new action begins.

The more often the learners are exposed to this inquiry process, the more entrenched it becomes in their own methods of research and discovery. Harnessing natural curiosity to form new perspectives and views with more depth and meaning can only empower individuals to live their best lives with purpose and confidence.

By Karin Wallis, Teacher at Tyger Valley College

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