Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Joy of Learning - Inquiry Based Learning

For my whole career, I have been interested in integrated learning where contents blend and merge in natural, authentic ways.  Teaching this way isn't straightforward or easy.  But, I think it is critical to engage learners in an autonomous environment.  Perhaps recalling how very little I learned in those environments where I was not engaged and just going through the motions (we sure can learn a lot from those non-examples!). 

Now that I think about it, inquiry based learning is something I have been working on for over thirty years- gasp!


I am a learner! I constantly am looking for what's new to connect to, how to be better, and improve my practice and thinking.  I am a work in progress always and forever.  That's how I found the power of a twitter PLN, how I learned about technology tools, and how I continue my personal/professional growth.  By never being complacent, always reflecting, listening to others, and trying new things.

Inquiry learning is natural to me.  It is also natural learning.  It's a methodology that works within a process and with what we know about students and how they learn from multiple sources of information to make meaning of the world.  In some ways inquiry learning seems intuitive. The process, once you learn it can be. Guided Inquiry Design certainly is, because it is based on what we have learned, about patterns of human experience. To me it is kind of the human learning process. Humans in the natural environment learn from our own curiosities which drive us to build knowledge from what we know outward into the unknown. 

So, when educators tell me that they don't know about inquiry based learning, or constructivist learning, I twist my head in wonder.  I wonder how they are connecting content to the students.  I wonder if they are working to get students to learn about information and how to navigate the information environment. I wonder what structures are in place to ensure that all students are engaged.  I wonder if they are having fun teaching and if kids are having fun learning.  By having fun, I mean, are they excited and proud of what and how they are learning? Are they bursting with ah ha moments to share ideas and information with others?  Are they excited about pulling ideas and new information together in new ways to share with others? Or are there just assignments and must do's...

Inquiry learning, at the core, is simply learning from our own questions. But it's so so much more that just that.

Inquiry Learning is a true joy. The joy of discovery and wonderment that should not end at age 3 but extend deep into our lives.  In this way, it IS learning how to learn.

Leslie Maniotes, PhD

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