“There’s no time for inquiry. I’ve got content to cover.”
“Look at this topic list. Where will we find the time to inquire?”
“These kids don’t know how to inquire.”
“There’s an exam at the end of this year.”
There are a lot of different reasons why many classrooms do not make time for student inquiry, and these statements are just a few of the most common.
If we take a look at the four statements above, we find that perhaps the most common excuse for not approaching learning through student inquiry is a lack of time, which seems to be occupied with topic lists and coverage in preparation for an exam. The other one is that students don’t know how to inquire.
What are the bases for these misconceptions about inquiry?
- Is becoming curious something that cannot be facilitated?
- Is covering content entirely separate from processes of asking questions and finding out, sorting information, evaluating it, thinking about its relevance, drawing conclusions?
- If students become personally motivated to find answers to questions they ask about content and concepts, what might happen?
- Do curiosity, processes of learning, and motivation take up so much time that they cannot be engaged in when content is being covered?
- Are exam questions not able to be answered using process, skills, knowledge and understanding that might result from well-designed and facilitated inquiry?
It seems that we might want learners who are:
- Curious and motivated to find things out
- Able to construct good questions
- Able to learn processes and use these deliberately to find answers which are not readily apparent
Covering content is teacher’s work.
When the summative assessment is upon the learner, he or she must do some work.
If the teacher does all the work, what will the student do when the time comes for him or her to perform it?