What is Enquiring Minds?
Enquiring Minds is...
- a response to the challenges schools face in the task of preparing children for a future characterised by rapid social, technological and cultural change
- a distinctive approach to teaching and learning that takes seriously the knowledge, ideas, interests and skills that students bring into schools
- a set of principles to underpin relationships between adults and children in schools and classrooms, which see children taking increasing responsibility for determining the content and purpose of their learning
- a set of print and digital tools to support teachers and school leaders to implement, adapt and explore Enquiring Minds approaches
- a three-year programme of research testing these approaches, principles and resources in UK schools.
Enquiring Minds is not...
- a new name for thinking skills or learning to learn approaches
- a return to the child-centred permissive education of the 1970s
- a special programme for gifted and talented or disaffected children.
“Enquiring Minds encourages pupils to develop skills whilst focusing on an area of their own interest and still developing subject knowledge. The approach is significant since it provides increased autonomy...Enquiry-based work is not a separate entity to other subject areas.”Teacher
“Most of the school curriculum is what we want them to learn, which is fine but it maybe doesn’t tap into what they want to learn, or tap into their own interests, or things that they value as important.”Teacher
What age group uses Enquiring Minds?
Enquiring Minds has been developed and piloted with students in Key Stage 3 (aged 11-13). However, as it is an approach to teaching and learning, and not a syllabus or curriculum, it could be developed as an alternative approach at Key Stage 4 or with younger children.
Where does the National Curriculum fit in?
Enquiring Minds is a way of approaching teaching and learning that can be used as an alternative to the curriculum or as a way of ensuring that it is made more relevant to students’ own contexts. It might be possible for teachers to approach their subjects through an enquiry approach. In this project, we have worked outside subjects and outside the curriculum in order to allow students to define the content of their learning.
What difference does it make in the classroom?
In an Enquiring Minds classroom, the teacher is no longer centre-stage: students and teachers work together as partners.
A typical Enquiring Minds teacher is:
- able to research topics and make connections between ideas
- interested in students’ lives and cultures
- keen to learn about how ideas and knowledge are produced in subjects other than their own.
A typical Enquiring Minds student is:
- inquisitive about their everyday life
- able to pose problems, ask questions and recognise issues they would like to explore
- aware that there are multiple perspectives for understanding and analysing things
- able to propose solutions to problems, and to suggest ways of pursuing those solutions.