We learn best when we are at the center of our own learning. Inquiry-based learning is a learning process through questions generated from the interests, curiosities, and perspectives/experiences of the learner. When investigations grow from our own questions, curiosities, and experiences, learning is an organic and motivating process that is intrinsically enjoyable.
This trajectory depicts my theory that expands the inquiry-based learning model: If the question, investigation, and outcome(s) are truly meaningful to the learner, she or he will apply this newly-acquired knowledge in her or his own life by sharing knowledge and by taking concrete action in the world. My theory is informed by my own personal learning experiences and by my experiences in both formal and informal learning communities. I believe that it is this process that moves people out of inertia to take steps that create social change, or to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge and discovery. It is this process that compells us to transmit knowledge, understanding and compassion to others. This concrete application of thoughtful knowledge sparks change and fosters greater knowledge and understanding in our classrooms, communities, nations, and the world. In this way one moves learning beyond the self and into society while simultaneously continuing within the "personal" or "internal" learning cycle.
Inquiry-based learning is a cyclical process: The learner asks questions --> these questions lead to the desire for answers to the question (or for solutions to a problem) and result in the beginning of exploration and hypotheses creation --> these hypotheses lead to an investigation to test the hypothesis/ses or find answers and solutions to the question and/or problem --> the investigation leads to the creation or construction of new knowledge based on investigation findings --> the learner discusses and reflects on this newly-acquired knowledge, which, in turn leads to more questions and further investigation
Expanding this process beyond the self can have profoundly positive social implications globally. When true inquiry is supported inside and outside of the classroom the learner feels valued and respected and learning blossoms. He or she comes to see learning as an intrinsically fun and enjoyable life-long process to be shared with others. Nurturing the natural curiosities within a child helps create a child who strives for knowledge and understanding both within herself and in the world around her.
Learn more about the guiding principles that inform my work.