Why do it?
The Enquiring Minds programme of curriculum development and research in schools has explored a more active approach to teaching and learning that is relevant to students' modern lives and allows teachers to develop their professional skills.
It means moving from a transmission pedagogy to an enquiry pedagogy:
- In a transmission pedagogy, the teacher has most of the knowledge and transmits it to students.
- In an enquiry pedagogy, students are assumed to have some knowledge already, which can be built upon with the support of teachers.
Enquiry focuses student attention on thinking about their own thinking – it encourages them to take the way they see the world, and the way others see it, seriously. Enquiry creates an analytical orientation towards their lives – they learn to ask questions, to look for deeper reasons.
Helps students to organise their own learning. Few activities better prepare you for a task than an ability to conduct research. Students begin to do things for themselves rather than rely on teachers’ subject knowledge expertise.
Stops students relying on procedural thinking. The messiness of doing research supports students to recognise the limits of methodological purity – when they get stuck, they have to interpret the situation and find ways to make sense of what they see.
Moves students to the realm of creating knowledge by encouraging them to organise and interpret information. They are no longer passive receivers of expert knowledge. They become responsible agents who engage in their own interpretations of the world around them.
Improves thinking by making it just another aspect of everyday existence. Adopting an enquiry approach means seeing answers as tentative and provisional, findings are always in process.
Supports students to work together and to build greater group understandings and skills.