Sunday, October 31, 2010
Why? So what???? The ART of Inquiry
It's been awhile since I articulated my thinking here...But promised myself, colleagues and my students that I would be practicing my own writing just like they do, with a real audience!
I have immersed myself these past years in the genuine "art" of teaching...no, LEARNING, and the power of true inquiry. Through a myriad of books, brain research and practical trials in my own classroom, I am inspired anew to focus on authentic learning. I know we all say we do that, but once we're back in the classroom so much stuff and junk clouds everything up and we feel that old "hoop jumping" checklist emerge and then it's June (sadly). I am determined I will not let that happen this year, so decided writing here would help me with accountability.
Nothing literary or research based tonight...just my own reflections on myself as a learner. I feel the single most important insight I can bring to my classroom is how my own inquiry wasn't encouraged as a young learner. I always felt "slower" than the rest, "dumber" than the rest. I was always asking the teacher, "Why?", and "So what?" (nicely!). Other students would look at me and roll their eyes as if to say, "Really? Let's just get out of here, don't you get it?" I remember how I internalized this painfully. I was a poor learner.
Having since studied the brain, authentic learning and true synthesis I have thankfully been able to amend my thinking. I WAS THE TRUE LEARNER! Who knew??? I wish my teachers had! I share my own experiences with my students often and never want to make the same mistakes with them. I want my classroom to be full of risk, questions, proving or disproving assumptions, analysis and research. I want more questions than answers so they embrace learning as a life long journey, and that there is always more to know. Most of all, I want them to feel safe in their quests, and that I am there to cheer them on and am more than excited to learn right along with them.
I can actually feel the relief and inner smiles in my students when they ask me a question and I reply, "I have NO idea. Let's find out." We all feel like we need to be experts, even my 4th graders, and the "experts" I admire recognized and acknowledged that they learned through NOT knowing, trying things, failing and repeating this process until they uncovered a nugget (or 2 or 3) of something new.
The National Inquirer has it right..."Inquiring minds want to know!", AND how it applies to life, knowledge, and the art of life and living.
Highly recommended resource... Comprehension Collaboration