The importance of Inquiry

One of the most important skills that we try to inculcate in our students is the art to learn through questioning. Inquiry is arguably one of the most important in the repertoire of skills that every student should possess. It must centre itself at the very heart of learning.
Throughout the second semester of 2017, there remained a sustained focus in implementing Inquiry throughout the school. It is the first of five different facets (Inquiry, Collaboration, Research, Communication and Thinking) within our approaches to teaching and learning (ATL) that we addressed over the duration of this semester.
It was extremely gratifying to see the whole school community support each other and achieve a lot over this period of time. This would have not been possible without the commitment of our students and teachers, who actively dedicated their time and energy towards strengthening the profile of an Inquiry based pedagogy within our school. Some of our achievements over this semester were as follows:
Student Involvement: The members of the Student Council played an integral part in the building of a wider awareness for Inquiry across the school. This involved the creation of several inquiry themed posters, unique to every subject taught within the school.
Students from grade six also contributed comprehensively to this. They created wonderful visual depictions of questions pertaining to the many aspects of their learning across different subjects. Halfway through the semester, the student council created a video which captured the pulse of Inquiry within our school. They spontaneously interviewed students from grades six through twelve on a Wednesday afternoon, gauging the impact that inquiry made to their learning.

Inquiry within and outside the classroom:

Every teacher contributed towards fostering, nurturing and strengthening Inquiry across the school. This took place inside and more importantly, outside of the classroom too. Field trips played an important part in further honing Inquiry within our students.
Students from grade 6 demonstrating their Inquiry skills in a poster making competition
Our grade 11 students pondering on “What it means to be an Indian”
The cultural kaleidoscope of Pondicherry sensitised our grade eleven students to a central profound question of “What it means to be an Indian?” The middle school field trip to Jaipur opened students’ minds to the idea of self-discovery through meaningful activities and experiences. The Theory of Knowledge (TOK) exhibition played an integral part in demonstrating the power of a thoughtful knowledge question. For the first time in our school, students along with teachers took to the stage to present their ideas, to an audience comprising grades nine and eleven. The Middle School exhibition on Mumbai, played a crucial role in shaping our students’ inquiry into the cultural, social and historical significance of different aspects of the city. We finished the year with a debate conducted by grade eleven students. The topic discussed was, “Can an Ivy League education guarantee success?”

Sharing and Reflections during Professional Development Days:

During our In-School professional development days, we had several teachers share their unique ideas on enriching lessons through Inquiry. Teachers across different subject groups and grades lent their expertise in honing critical thinking via a varied stimuli of pertinent and interesting questions. The vision of building a resource bank for teachers to be shared across all subjects and grades is one that we hope to achieve in the next two years.

Further Implementation:

Inquiry must remain central to the way our students learn. As our students progress through the school, they will learn to Inquire in greater depth. Whether it be through day to day teaching in the classroom, different forms of assessments, school exhibitions, projects or field trips, Inquiry will always be a prominent feature of learning. This is imperative in promoting intellectual sophistication in every student.

Enquiry: A poem

There is no limit to knowledge,
It’s good for us all, at any age, at any time.
Learning should be a priority, a privilege,
Being knowledgeable is commendable, it’s not a crime.

Life is all about asking questions,
Finding answers, realising our mistakes
Hoping to miss premonitions,
Thinking about uncertainty, chances and the feeling of not knowing just aches.

In chemistry we ask about states and content,
In biology, about loosestrife.
In mathematics, about measurement,
In TOK, we look at different aspects of life.

It’s wonderful to see,
How satisfying answers can be,
It’s a great feeling, it must be your desire
To learn, teach and enquire.

It’s important to know,
It makes you a learned human being.
As geography teaches you about our globe,
History allows you to understand what you’re not seeing.

You don’t waste time when you learn,
Don’t ask questions until you have trained yourself not to know the answers wisely,
Because it’s good to be curious, and show concern,
And that will be the moment when you become an Oracle of inquiry.

Would you rather remain contained of unbearable irritation?
Or would you rather switch roles and answer every day,
Make enquiry a temptation,
Make it a necessity of your life every day.

Armaan Kantawala (Grade 11), April 2017

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