I have long championed inquiry learning as a way to grow inquiring minds, foster creativity and spark curiosity. As a teacher, I personally found that inquiry learning was a great way to foster engagement and give students a reason to learn the ‘basics’.
Kath Murdoch had an important message to deliver in her session: explicit teaching and inquiry can be used together. As I heard this message, I breathed a sigh of relief. I have always used inquiry learning alongside explicit teaching and to have this validated gave me a sense of relief.
She defined inquiry as a an approach that “consciously positions the learner as an active participant in a process of investigation” and notes that questions drive inquiry learning. Building a culture of inquiry was one of her key messages and she illustrated this with a colourful diagram of the many ways that school leaders can build a community that supports inquiry.
Kath Murdoch’s talk was filled with examples of inquiry learning, some centred on students and some with a focus on teachers undertaking personal inquiries as professional learning projects.
Another useful tool that Kath Murdoch shared was a model for designing a journey of inquiry. At the centre of inquiry is growing the skills and dispositions of research, collaboration, communication, thinking and self-management. The model shows that a journey of inquiry is continual process with one of the important steps being to reflect on learning and act.