As I began a conversation with my teenager daughter about what I was going to blog about, she gave me a cheeky grin. I know she is thinking, “What on earth would my mum have to blog about?”. After a few minutes, it turned out that my topic of inquiry learning was more interesting than originally received. This brought me to the notion that all creatures are innately curious and inquiry from within is never too far from the surface. Animals have learned how to survive through tried and tested strategies, food sources and environments, to enable themselves to flourish. We, as humans, started the tried and tested phase back in nappies. Are these the origins of inquiry learning?
From personal experience I know that the inquiry process is certainly a messy process and presents itself in the form of circles and waves, as oppose to a linear one (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, Caspari, 2012), taking you from A to B. In my minds eye, I see inquiry and curiosity at its’ greatest, when scientists create medicines to heal, explorers find new plant and animal life, when people of power and wealth share there fruits to benefit the needy. However, it is also in the first steps taken by an infant, a child learning how to ride a bike, or a teenager figuring out the public transport system. Does the inquiry learning process always have to produce big, and significant results, or can the humble moments have equal value?
Knowing how we learn as learner seems to be the bottom line when nurturing students to develop their own knowledge. Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari (2007) echoed the same notion by John Dewey (1915), inquiry learning is a creative process, and learners with their previous experiences intact, will launch head first into a roller-coaster of emotions while participating on the journey. I am amazed to think that over one hundred years ago, people were thinking about how we think, and learning about how we learn. It would seem that a century of inquiry about inquiry has occurred, and the journey is still going. Will we arrive at the journey’s end, or is it one of those adventures like space travel or living forever, which will keep the curiosity and inquiry going on…. and on…. and on?
As I ponder the many journeys that curiosity will lead me on, I am now thinking of life as just one BIG inquiry. This learning journey that I am about to encounter is like a speck in the distance that I can’t quite focus on. Squinting, I can see it out there and would like to find out more, but will be uncertain of the exact pathway to take until just prior to stepping out of the comfort zone.
Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, (2012). Chapter 1 : Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C.; Maniotes, L. and Caspari, A, Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school, (pp.1 – 15). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.
Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K. (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry in Kuhlthau, Carol C. ; Maniotes, Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K, Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century, Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited, pp.13-28.