RVS Guest Author: Barry Allen, Learning Specialist - “Inquiry is a dynamic process of being open to wonder and puzzlement and coming to know and understand the world. Inquiry is based on the belief that understanding is constructed in the process of people working and conversing together as they pose and solve the problems. It involves serious engagement and investigation and the active creation and testing of new knowledge.” Galileo Educational Network
The Galileo Educational Network definition of inquiry is one of my favourites, as it describes the dynamic process that engages students in authentic, real investigative work that reflects the real work of the living discipline. When students participate in the real work of a living discipline, their level of interest, excitement, engagement, and quality of their work increases dramatically. In my role as a Learning Specialist for Rocky View Schools, I have observed teachers and students taking an “Inquiry” stance, exploring a discipline through curriculum issues and concepts driven by questions and engaged in discussions on:
Polar Bears: – Grade 1
What makes a good quality of life? – Grade 3
What is Canada’s identity? – Grade 5
How do we coexist? - Grade 8
Students were animated and excited about their work and went deep into the issues presented in the pitches. They uncovered the outcomes of the curriculum, but went so much further in developing an understanding of the concepts that are important to the discipline studied. The students were guided and learning was scaffolded to allow for success yet they also were allowed to explore burning questions and follow their desire to learn.
The result is students that develop the attributes of the Rocky View Schools’ “Portrait of a 21st Century Learner” . This “Portrait” is very similar to the competencies described by Alberta Education and is what I believe to be the new basics of education, the basis of our programs of study, and the “Ideal Graduate”. It is these attributes that will enable the students to be thinkers, make sense of the world around them, apply their new understandings and skills to problems, and contribute to the world today and in the future.