I started this adventure 3 months ago – my first venture back into University Education. When I realised my first subject would be about Inquiry Learning, I wasn’t alarmed or phased but rather very excited about delving into a topic that I had an interest in. I knew about Kath Murdoch and was ‘sort of’ experienced in that I teach in a school where inquiry is important and valued. It is something we strive to achieve daily. However, as a curious educator I still had questions myself about this educational thought, are we doing it ‘right’? And when I was asked to go through the inquiry process using my “own” questions as the driving content I wasn’t short of wonderings. My original questions were:
What is true Inquiry?
How should a library be involved with all classes in their inquiries?
How does the natural curiosity of early childhood change throughout the formal school years?
Then names like Kuhlthau, Maniotes, Lupton, (to name a few) came along. Who were these people, what were their thoughts….why hadn’t I heard of them before…..where had I been. My eyes were opened and I began reading, learning, researching and inquiring into new understandings of what inquiry is, may be, should be. I realised, it is definately not a black and white answer.
The Journey has been LONG!!! It has been a road of ups and downs and many detours along the way. My road was replicating Kuhlthau’s , (2010) Information Search Process model. Feelings of emotion have stretched me and frustrated me, development of new ideas have excited me and the general idea of these new learnings have been the constant push to get through – for the benefit of my teaching and my students.
Discovering the likes of Kuhlthau was one of those moments of ‘Yes’ I get this. Why haven’t I heard of her Guided Inquiry opinion before? Once researching and reading into her ideas such as those formed with Maniotes and Caspari (2012) around the Guided Inquiry Design Framework, awareness was set in place. I was able to think about my questions around ‘true inquiry’ and ‘natural curiosity’. Thinking and processing steps that can be taken to be a “guiding” educator within the classroom.
I have always been naturally curious about the notion of “inquiry learning”. I have dipped my toes into the process however, after completing this course I now feel like I have even more of an understanding about this idea of “inquiry is a way of learning new skills and knowledge for understanding and creating” (Kuhlthau, 2010), to “guide students in experiencing essential inquiry elements such as questioning, information literacy, and iterative research cycles (Lupton, 2016). Developing more of an understanding of critical literacies through Lupton’s GeSTE Windows (2016) and thinking more analytically about questioning practice and the right frameworks for a particular unit have been at the forefront of this new attained knowledge. I have always known that the basis of an inquiry cycle is the cycle itself, however as a teacher, sometimes this notion and how to actually execute it in a classroom were beyond me. I am a teacher who truly believes in the curiosity of the student….but to truly deliver this notion was always hard….time always got away.
Being exposed to the understanding that “asking questions is at the heart of inquiry-based learning” – “questions that kids honestly care about” (Youth Learn, 2016) made an impact on my learning experience. I have been a part of the questioning process but upon reflection, hadn’t really undertaken (until going through this process) the depth of this concept. Guiding, modelling, exposing students to different questioning frameworks, to enable and empower them along their inquiry road has probably been my biggest take-away from this whole process.
And finally, my last question, how does the library be involved with all classes for their inquiries…..I think I am on the path of being one of the “Guided Inquiry Team” (Kuhlthau, 2010) members. I like the idea that by being one of these people my role is to “provide a synergy of ideas for developing inquiry learning and also provide the additional professional guidance and ongoing support student inquiry requires.” Moving closer to the students world and the curriculum, having “third space”.
So, where to now…….my journey continues……I am now in the process of sharing my new found knowledge with colleagues, getting them to also ask questions, expose them to new ideas….to see if we are delivering best practise in our classrooms. And as my journey is one of inquiry, I have a new question……
How am I going to achieve this new-found “guided inquiry” team approach with other educators?
I have begun the sharing of information; the questioning of what we are doing…….now to the implementation of new theories and ideas……the journey continues!!!!
Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide. Volume 16, Number 1, 17-28. Retrieved from http://wp.comminfo.rutgers.edu/ckuhlthau2/wp-content/uploads/sites/185/2016/02/GI-School-Librarians-in-the-21-Century.pdf
Kuhlthau, C. Maniotes, L,K. Caspari, A,K. (2012) Guided Inquiry Design. Rutgers School of Communication and Information.(2016)
Lupton, M. (2016) Inquiry learning: A pedagogical and curriculum framework for information literacy. In Sales, Dora & Pinto, Maria (Eds.) Pathways into Information Literacy and Communities of Practice: Teaching Approaches and Case Studies.Chandos Publishing. https://eprints.qut.edu.au/95005/