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'


Pete Hall said...

I like that idea of travel and how it broadens the mind in little ways. There's a TED talk on it somewhere... you may like to link it.
I'm fascinated with the possibility of finding ways to travel at home.. how to notice little things.
I think the easiest way to do this is through people. Really knowing someone else, and approaching them with genuine interest and a sense of inquiry leads to fascinating landscapes, unexpected hues and often disorienting routines, beliefs and values. These are the people we sit next to in public spaces.. how can we open ourselves to that travel?

Rocky said...

Thanks for this post Fiona. I think Teaching as Inquiry is an area we all need support in understanding. Posts like this challenge our thinking and help us to construct our own ideas.

Justine said...

Thanks Fiona for your post - "teaching as inquiry" is the topic of my thesis research at the moment and there needs to be more NZ examples out there (which I'm hoping to also share in my research). Claire is definitely a leader in the field at the moment with her knowledge in this area. I have already discovered too, that there is definitely confusion over the terminology with inquiry teaching. I think more emphasis needs to be made on effective pedagogy in the NZC and the links with developing an inquiry habit of mind to all that we do within our professional practice and making each of those 10 minutes matter - reflection and action are the key to not only raising student outcomes, but raising teacher knowledge and capacity and ultimately the school as a learning community.

Critical inquiry is now also a criteria for all teachers to prove that they do for their registration now with the new RTC(criteria 12)so for teachers to employ an inquiry habit of mind, using the NZC Teaching as Inquiry model as a guide to follow is one way of ensuring that they are inquiring into their practice.

Look out for my thesis when it's online next year to continue the conversation.

Fiona Grant said...

Hi Justine,
Teaching as Inquiry has been a real interest of mine since working with the CNS ICT PD Cluster in 2006-2007. We used this model to guide our programme of PLD in the second and third year of the contract. I also recognised the value of this approach when I began working in a secondary environment in 2009. Teaching as Inquiry is a wonderful framework for collaboration and learning for a PLC. It recognises the importance of context while at the same time provides a commonality for professional dialogue and inquiry into our practice. Have used this to inform e-learning as inquiry model too.
View an updated version of e-Learning Teaching as Inquiry on the wiki.

Another strength of Teaching as Inquiry is when it is embedded with the other key messages about "teacher actions that promote student learning" (NZC,p.34-35) ….and please don't forget about p.36!

I have been saving examples of the
Teaching as Inquiry in my Delicious…

…looking forward to reading your thesis.

Nga mihi nui