Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Inquire with a travelling mindset..."

"Inquire with a travelling mindset" analogy used by Claire Sinnema while exploring teaching as inquiry with Team Solutions facilitators recently. Useful and timely messages from Claire in light of some of the confusion between teaching as inquiry and inquiry learning, that we have experienced as schools move towards implementing the New Zealand Curriculum (2007).

Image Attribution: 'je dois apprendre aux curieux'

More from Claire...

The NZC(2007) describes some ways of thinking about teaching and learning using evidence based approaches, "the kinds of teaching approaches that consistently have a positive impact on student learning" (p.34) and also thinking about teaching as inquiry, a way of 'being' or the underlying attitudes that influence our practice.

Focusing inquiry is about:
  • Prioritising what is most important: "Every 10 minutes matters"... image the impact on student learning if those 10 minutes every day of every week are added up over the years a student is at school.
  • Learner diversity
  • National and community curriculum aspirations
  • Information and data
  • Individual group needs
The above can be informed by research however the value of a teacher's past practice should not be overlooked. What good are the approaches, principles and mechanisms in the research? Why inquire if we know what works?  

"Because context matters... inquiry is important"

As Claire shared some examples from her own experiences and observations I found myself making links to how e-learning and pedagogy (NZC, 2007, p.36) can also provide us with many and varied opportunities to inquire into the teacher actions that promote student learning.
A wonderful example of this can be viewed on Helen Rennie-Younger's wiki
Helen shares both her inquiry and student learning and effectively models how e-learning can make a difference to her practice and student learning.

Further reading that may be of interest -  Effective Pedagogy in Social Sciences: Tikanga ā Iwi: BES, Aitken and Sinnema (2008).

"Approach Teaching as Inquiry as we would approach travelling to new places..."

Claire left us with the following message inspired by Alain de Botton's, The Art of Travel...
"To inquire with a travelling mindset!"

From the book...

“What, then, is a traveling mind-set? Receptivity might be said to be its chief characteristic. Receptive, we approach new places with humility. We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is or is not interesting. We irritate locals because we stand in traffic islands and narrow streets and admire what they take to be unremarkable small details. We risk getting run over because we are intrigued by the roof of a government building or an inscription on a wall. We find a supermarket or a hairdresser’s shop unusually fascinating. We dwell at length on the layout of a menu or the clothes of the presenters on the evening news. We are alive to the layers of history beneath the present and take notes and photographs. Home, by contrast, finds us more settled in our expectations. We feel assured that we have discovered everything interesting about our neighborhood, primarily by virtue of our having lived there a long time. It seems inconceivable that there could be anything new to find in a place where we have been living for a decade or more. We have become habituated and therefore blind to it.”
Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel (2002)

Image Attribution:'Atlas, it's time for your bath'