The meaning of ‘knowing’ has shifted from being able to remember
and repeat information to being able to find and use it.”
(National Research Council, 2007)
What did you do at school today?
Robert L. Fielding
Every Friday, I go to Nan’s house for dinner until Mum gets back from her work to pick me up.
Grandpa opens the door and gives me the same question as I take my coat off and drink some
juice Nan pours for me.
“What did you do at school today, John?” he says, which I think is odd because as it’s
Friday, the answer is always the same.
“Maths, English, Sport and Geography, Gramps!” I drink the juice and get my
ipad out of my schoolbag.
“So you know your capitals, do you?” says Gramps.
“Capitals?” I ask.
“Aye, lad, capitals - capitals of countries!”
“No, Gramps, I don’t know them.” My Grandad looked at me,
then he looked at Nan.
“I don’t know what they teach them these days,” he said, sort of to
both of us. Nan nodded to him and shook her head to me. She had
heard it all before.
“Do you know the capital city of Turkey?” he asked me. I told him
I didn’t. He frowned at me and then beamed.
“Ankara,” he said, “the capital city of Turkey is Ankara!”
“Is it, Gramps?” He beamed and frowned again.
“Aye, lad,” he said, “it is!” It was my turn to frown.
“How do you know that, Gramps?” I was always a curious kid.
“Geography, of course,” he said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Ankara.”
“Why?” was my question. He frowned some more.
“To see Ataturk’s Mausoleum,” he said. More curiosity.
“What’s that?” I asked. He looked exasperated.
“What is it they teach you at that school?” More frowning.
“Everything,” was my unexpected reply.
He shook his head as Nan brought in our food. We ate in a sort
of silence - quiet from me and talking from him and my Nan. Finally,
I asked him one more question.
“Why don’t you go then, if you want to?” I knew they had some
money, and of course, they had lots and lots of time. He shook his
“Kids,” he said, “what are they like?” It was a question that didn’t
need an answer.
While they listened to the News on TV, I went online on my ipad.
I had a small printer permanently at their house, so I connected and printed.
“What’s this?” Gramps asked me as I handed him the piece of paper I’d printed out.
“It’s an e-ticket, Gramps,” I told him and waited for the explosion.
He looked at it and then he exploded.
“This is a plane ticket to Ankara,” he said.
“Go to the top of the class,” I thought but didn’t say it out loud.
“What are we supposed to do with this?” they both asked me.
“Fly!” I answered, laughing.
“And what’ll we do when we get there?” asked Nan.
The printer was still printing.
“Stay at this hotel,” I said and handed him the voucher I’d printed
out for them. Still the printer ran on.
“Here’s your itinerary,” I said and handed them another shock.
Right there on the first day of their stay in Ankara was a visit to
Ataturk’s Mausoleum - Anitkabir, in Turkish.
“It’s open from 9am until 5pm,” I said, “and it’s free to get in!”
They both looked sooo amazed at me, at the e-ticket, the voucher
and the itinerary.
“Have a nice time in Ankara,” I said, “which, by the way, was
called Angora before it became Ataturk’s new capital city!”
“Well,” said Nan, “you learn something new every day!”
Robert L. Fielding
Inquiry based learning
“It is not enough to merely gather information. If the individual is to understand it and learn from it, there is an essential, interpretive task.”
Jerome Bruner, Psychologist
“Through the process of inquiry, individuals construct much of their understanding of the natural and human-designed worlds.”
Long Bay Primary School
Heatherhill Primary School
Skagerak School, Norway
Introduction to Inquiry based learning
MU Centre for excellence in EBL
Resources and case studies
How to assess EBL (Glasgow University)
What is inquiry based learning?
Teach Thought - guide for teachers
Inquiry based learning
Listen while you work - Rachmaninov’s finest!
Tchaikovsky - best of
1 hr 54 mins of relaxation music by Chopin
questions, problems or scenarios -- rather than simply presenting established facts or
portraying a smooth path to knowledge.
In general, the traditional approach to learning is focused on mastery of content, with
less emphasis on the development of skills and the nurturing of inquiring attitudes.
The current system of education is teacher centered, with the teacher focused on giving
out information about "what is known." Students are the receivers of information, and the
teacher is the dispenser. Much of the assessment of the learner is focused on the
importance of "one right answer." Traditional education is more concerned with
preparation for the next grade level and in-school success than with helping a
student learn to learn throughout life.
The system is more student centered, with the teacher as a facilitator of learning.
There is more emphasis on "how we come to know" and less on "what we know."
Students are more involved in the construction of knowledge through active involvement.
Inquiry learning is concerned with in-school success, but it is equally concerned with
preparation for life-long learning.
Habits of mind are nurtured through questioning and reflection.
Questions, whether self-initiated or "owned," are at the heart of inquiry learning.
STUDENTS DOING INQUIRY LEARNING -
characteristics of students in inquiry learning ****
Memorizing facts and information is not the most important skill in today's world.
Facts change, and information is readily available -- what's needed is an
understanding of how to get and make sense of the mass of data.
Inquiry is not so much seeking the right answer -- because often there is none --
but rather seeking appropriate resolutions to questions and issues.
Content of disciplines is very important, but as a means to an end, not as an end in
itself. The knowledge base for disciplines is constantly expanding and changing.
No one can ever learn everything, but everyone can better develop their skills and
nurture the inquiring attitudes necessary to continue the generation and examination
of knowledge throughout their lives.
trying to transmit "what we know," even if it were possible, is counterproductive in
the long run.
Habits of mind vary in their rigidity across disciplines. This doesn't mean that one is
right and the other is wrong, but simply that the "ground rules" are different.
Individuals need many perspectives for viewing the world. Such views could include
artistic, scientific, historic, economic, and other perspectives.
One of the important missing pieces in many modern schools is a coherent and
simplified process for increasing knowledge of a subject from lower grades to
In 1961, the Educational Policies Commission published a position paper on the
central purpose of American Education. The commission suggested that students
needed to develop "ten rational powers." These were: recalling and imagining;
classifying and generalizing; comparing and evaluating; analyzing and synthesizing;
and deducing and inferring. These are also some of the fundamentals of inquiry learning.
Education cannot give learners all the information that they need to know,
but rather it must provide the tools for continuing to learn.
Constructivism says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge
of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.
When we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas
and experience, maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the new
information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge.
To do this, we must ask questions, explore, and assess what we know.
Constructivist teachers help students to construct knowledge rather than to
reproduce a series of facts.
Constructivism transforms the student from a passive recipient of information
to an active participant in the learning process.
Always guided by the teacher, students construct their knowledge actively
rather than just mechanically ingesting knowledge from the teacher or the textbook.
Benefits of a constructivist approach to teaching and learning
And finally - some excellent sites to explore - to increase your curiosity - to learn more about learning more
Ten cool sites - please explore the subject areas on the left and then dive in!
Robert L. Fielding