I love a good Queensland summer. Hot, sunny days at the beach, coconut-scented sunscreen, fish and chips and salt-laden hair; a combination that has me grinning from ear to ear!
Whilst it’s the fine, summer days that I live for, they’re even better after a prolonged period of rain; they’re a reward for enduring the storm. This is not dissimilar to my disposition for learning. Whilst some refer to the journey of learning as the Learning Pit, I prefer to think of learning a new concept as chasing a storm. Storms are exciting; they may bring rain, lightning, hail and strong winds, none of which are comfortable...but none of which are boring either.
I go in search of storms constantly. I like enduring the haze of not knowing and the rain and winds of cognitive dissonance because, at some point, the lightning of understanding will strike, the storm passes and I know I’ll enjoy the comfort of my new-found knowledge; my Summer’s day at the beach.
When I decided to pursue the storm of Inquiry Learning, I had a superficial level of understanding. I had dabbled in Problem Based Learning and student-centred pedagogies, but had not specifically investigated the role of Inquiry Learning in the school setting. At this early stage, it is my understanding that Inquiry Learning involves using open-ended questions as research prompts to arrive at a learning outcomes. How these questions are constructed, and by whom, is a little unclear to me at this stage. How student centred is this approach to learning? What is the role of teachers in this approach? How do you track student progress? These are all questions I have at this stage as I begin to enter the storm zone. For the purposes of this research task though, I would be interest in pursuing at least one of these cognitive storms:
How does the culture of the classroom affect the success of the inquiry learning pedagogy?
How can teachers ensure that students are utilising critical thinking skills when engaging in inquiry learning?
What are the implications for professional learning programs to ensure teachers are adequately prepared to utilise an inquiry learning pedagogy?
Wish me luck as I don my rain jacket, and enter the storm zone. Warning: hazardous weather ahead!