Inquiry is an intrinsically motivated, student driven method of learning. It focuses heavily on the use of student questions and involvement to facilitate the learning process. Inquiry uses a collaborative, hands on and socially driven approach that stresses critical thinking. St. John’s adopted the International Baccalaureate’s inquiry based curriculum as a purposeful choice over a more traditional, western style education.
The question is then raised, why inquiry?
The model of education currently used in the majority of western countries is a remnant from the industrial revolution. It often looks like this – a teacher dispensing the necessary facts for a student to take a test, pass a grade, so they can go to a good university, get a good degree and then get a good job. However, studies in the U.K. and the U.S. show that up to 50% of employers believe that recent graduates are not equipped for the job they get. This, I believe, is caused by the existing western model of education not reflecting the current job market.
According to Jim Carroll, an expert in future global trends, knowledge is estimated to be
growing at such a rate that what we collectively know is doubled every eight years. This growth of knowledge is an average; some areas are growing at a faster rate. What this means is that a portion of what we know now will be obsolete by the time my fourth grade class graduates from high school. This knowledge explosion is most evident in profitable growth areas such as technology and medicine. Principally, many of the “good” jobs we hope for are not reflective of traditional education.
St. John’s believes that inquiry can be an answer to this problem. In an inquiry based program, such as the International Baccalaureate offers, we are teaching students the ability to learn. We do not throw away the core skills people must know, but our focus is different. With an inquiry based education the focus is less on what we know and more on how we came to know it. Ultimately, the goal of inquiry is to enable students to be reflective learners, thinkers, innovators and leaders that can adapt and be able to meet the challenges of their time.
by Jonathan Adams, Grade 4 teacher