SJAM Inquiry Centre

"Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand."

What is "Inquiry

From "Inquiry Based Learning",

"'Inquiry' is defined as 'a seeking for truth, information, or knowledge -- seeking information by questioning.' Individuals carry on the process of inquiry from the time they are born until they die. This is true even though they might not reflect upon the process. Infants begin to make sense of the world by inquiring. From birth, babies observe faces that come near, they grasp objects, they put things in their mouths, and they turn toward voices. The process of inquiring begins with gathering information and data through applying the human senses -- seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling."

So... What's the Big Deal?

In many classes the answer becomes the most important aspect of the learning experience. The problem with that philosophy is that the answer also tends to end the learning process - once it's found, there's no reason to continue. The answer becomes the period at the end of the sentence, as it were.

All human beings are naturally curious - what's around the next corner, over the next hill, or why do things work the way they do. Inquiry is about learning  Effective inquiry is more than just asking questions. Through the involvement of the learner and their questions about the subject at hand, a complex process is involved where individuals attempt to convert information and data into useful knowledge. Useful application of inquiry learning involves several factors: a context for questions, a framework for questions, a focus for questions, and different levels of questions. Well-designed inquiry learning produces knowledge formation that can be widely applied.

But what was wrong with the way we did it before?

Nothing... except that memorizing facts and information is not the most important skill in today's world. Facts change, and information is readily available -- what's needed is an understanding of how to get and make sense of the mass of data.

We need to go beyond the "research and presentation" idea and move toward the generation of useful and applicable knowledge . . . a process supported by inquiry learning. In the past, our success depended on our ability to word hard. Today, it depends upon a workforce that "works smarter."

In other words, we need students to not only find information, but use it. Better yet, they must also determine what information is important, what isn't and how to find it.

Finally, we need them to push beyond the superficial and go deeper into subjects, answering the questions that come about by answering them, seeing past the basic.

What We're Working On...


Sept 10 - Who do you think is a Great Thinker?

November 15 - Science and Technology Inquiry - Extinction, Environment and Biodiversity.

December 11 - First full Independent Inquiry Day

December 19 - Second full Independent Inquiry Day - Students will have their topic and starting questions prepared before class.