In a traditional classroom, students are encouraged to retain information through memorisation. It's a passive method of learning that may help a student achieve an adequate test score. But information gained in this manner is often forgotten, because the child who 'learned' it had no active role in gaining the knowledge - other than that of leaning over a tablet or copying words from a whiteboard. There is little-to-no inquiry-led learning in this type of classroom.
A Definition of Inquiry-Led Learning
At OWIS, we discourage passive, passionless learning, and push exploration instead. Children enrolled in One World International School practice inquiry-led learning. An inquiry-led classroom is one where students are encouraged to ask questions because they legitimately want to discover the answers, and it varies greatly from the traditional classroom of earlier times.
Inquiry-based learning works toward distinct objectives - to give students information-processing skills, to develop sound habits of mind (ground rules) and to achieve content, as well as conceptual, understanding. In an inquiry-led classroom, students pose the questions, then work toward finding the answers. As a result, teachers play an entirely different role.
The Teacher's Role in an Inquiry-Led Classroom
At OWIS, our teachers play many roles: cheerleader, voice-of-reason, and mediator. In one day, a teacher might introduce a concept, discuss different ways of exploring the concept and then open the floor for students to devise their own solutions for expanding upon it. For instance, if the topic to be explored is the culture of another country, the teacher might engage the students by watching a video, taking a field trip to a local museum, talking with an individual who is a part of that culture, reading a book or putting on a play based upon research. She'll offer possibilities, but the students decide which approach they will take to achieve the learning objectives.
Classes may decide to work individually, as a group or in teams. They may lean toward leaving the classroom and exploring the subject via the real world, or they may elect to do research instead.The important takeaway in inquiry-based learning is that the student takes the lead. This encourages passion and interest, and makes even the most mundane subjects much more memorable.
It's the teacher's role to ensure this transition takes place wholly and completely, that necessary outcomes are achieved and that each student takes responsibility for his or her learning.In this way, children develop the critical thinking skills they need to succeed in any role they may play in the future.
Tools Used in Inquiry-Led Learning
Important elements of an inquiry-led classroom include immediate feedback, encouragement, positive response, close monitoring of the student or students to ensure they're staying on track, technology, communication with parents and school administrators. Teachers aren't really present to teach, so to speak. Rather, they become effective facilitators of learning.