What is Inquiry Based Learning?

by | Nov 16, 2021 | Blog

Inquiry Based Learning

Do you remember that one topic in primary school? All the names, dates and places? No? Yea, me neither.
In a world and schooling system so obsessed with jamming content down our throats, it is a relief that some of us (the progressive ones), have realised the importance of skills development over content. With rapid advancements in technology, we are preparing a generation of children who will enter jobs that don’t even exist yet.

How can we as educators ensure that your precious children will be equipped for this unpredictable and unknown future? At Knights Preparatory School, we have been on our Thinking School’s journey for a few years now and have boldly ventured into Inquiry Based Learning (IBL).
Guy Claxton says that ‘over-teaching, deadens curiosity’. IBL is a teaching method that sees the teacher in the role of facilitator or coach of learning while the learners take a more active role in exploring, researching, developing and presenting material themselves. This is a skills-based, and learner-centered approach to teaching that encourages curiosity and exploration, thus eliminating “over-teaching”. The children learn how to take responsibility for their learning.

What does IBL look like in action?

The teacher will begin by provoking curiosity about a topic. This can be done through videos, an activity, an experiment, a game, or even a thought-provoking question. The children are encouraged to generate questions on the topic or pose problems. This is an excellent way to determine what interests the learner and what they would like to explore. We all know that our children perform better when they are invested in the topic.

The class will then delve into research and gather information in order to answer some of these questions and to try and solve some of the posed problems. There is usually a finished product or presentation involved. This can be in the form of a poster, artwork, skit, Keynote presentation, model, etc. The children will then share/present their findings and have time to reflect on what they have learned, what they excelled at and how they could improve.

The skills developed through this type of learning are plentiful: thinking interdependently, research skills, creating and innovating, analysing, evaluating, experimenting and observing, time management, ICT skills, organising, metacognition, etc. These are life skills that will follow our children throughout life and enable them to thrive in any work environment in the future.

Children who have been exposed to Inquiry-Based Learning know that their voices matter to their teacher and that they are heard. They learn that they too can answer their own questions rather than being spoon-fed answers and develop new skills as a result. They get to learn about what matters most to them and makes them the most curious. An IBL classroom is an inclusive one as everyone has to participate and have equal access to the information they need in order to explore their questions. It can be adjusted to meet every learner’s unique needs and abilities.

Most of all, Inquiry-Based Learning is fun!

Tammi Carter

Tammi Carter

Grade 6 Register Teacher

Tammi Carter is a wife and a mother to two young children. She is a coffee snob and has a thirst for adventure. Tammi has been teaching for 10 years, is currently a Grade 6 register teacher and serves on the Thinking Skills Drive Team at Knights Preparatory School.

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