Did you ask a good question today?
Isidore Isaac Rabi, winner of a Nobel Prize for physics, when asked why he became a scientist, replied, “My mother made me a scientist without ever knowing it. Every other child would come back from school and be asked, ‘What did you learn today?’ But my mother used to say, ‘Izzy, did you ask a good question today?’ That made the difference. Asking good questions made me into a scientist.”
I’ve been discussing inquiry with Jessica at Stars and clouds. We both work in PYP schools, where inquiry underpins all teaching and learning. We’re continuously looking for ways to strengthen inquiry and to make it more student driven. Our conversation is about how to get learners asking questions, so that the inquiry is theirs, rather than teacher directed. This week’s #edchat tackled a similar issue and educators around the world shared their ideas about (and obstacles in) student directed learning.
Inquiry encourages students to be actively involved in and to take responsibility for their own learning. Inquiry learning allows each student’s understanding of the world to develop in a manner and at a rate unique to that student. The starting point is students’ current understanding, and the goal is the active construction of meaning through:
- exploring, wondering and questioning
- experimenting and playing with possibilities
- making connections between previous learning and current learning
- making predictions and acting purposefully to see what happens
- collecting data and reporting findings
- clarifying existing ideas and reappraising perceptions of events
- deepening understanding through the application of a concept
- making and testing theories
- researching and seeking information
- taking and defending a position
- solving problems in a variety of ways. (Making the PYP Happen)
Here’s my take on it…
The more we plan, the more teacher directed it becomes. If we have a very detailed idea in advance of where the lesson (or the unit or the semester) will go then it’s not inquiry. What we do need to plan is really strong provocations to get students engaged in the big ideas, so that they’ll be motivated to question, wonder, inquire, explore… and learn.
Still thinking… please join me.