Inquiry As A Powerful Learning Pathway
By Lisamarie Hughes, Educational Consultant
Various curriculum frameworks across the globe are now underpinned with the notion that children need to inquire and engage with real experiences as they make meaning and construct new understandings in educational settings. We would like to further unpack what this looks like in our context.
How do children learn? How do teachers respond?
We believe that children bring to any learning encounter an existing body of knowledge constructed from their past experiences and interactions with the world. This knowledge forms the foundation for ongoing learning.
Through purposeful listening and observation of children’s interactions with peers, adults and materials, our teachers are able to reflect on and evaluate the child’s current level of skill, knowledge and interest. In developing a profile of each child’s learning style and existing knowledge base, teachers plan subsequent learning experiences designed to extend children’s thinking.
We believe that children learn best when the learning experiences are relevant and meaningful to them. Inquiry is acknowledged worldwide as a vehicle for learning. We see inquiry as the integrative device which supports children in complicating their thoughts and ideas (e.g. a light & shadow experiment may offer children opportunities to observe, develop mathematical and scientific understandings as well as participate in a social group).
How do we plan our inquiry-based curriculum?
At EtonHouse, our curriculum is organised according to the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) or the unique EtonHouse Inquire – Think – Learn Curriculum Framework. Our observations of children’s interests, behaviours and ‘wondering’ about the world provide a relevant and meaningful base for the experiences we plan. We then link these experiences and the children’s participation with the relevant curriculum framework to ensure that we are accountable for learning.
Teachers create many opportunities across the day, week and year for each child to explore a wide range of hands-on learning encounters which aim to integrate rather than segment the learning content. The children and educators co-construct understanding of concepts so as to embed learning as a powerful experience. This moves beyond simply transferring knowledge. We then make the power of inquiry visible through our classroom panels, portfolios, newsletters and exhibitions held for the community.