stephanie jones

What is Inquiry?

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2012 at 3:52 pm

What is inquiry? This question has haunted me for quite awhile as I hear folks talk about inquiry-based education, inquiry-focused curriculum, and what is and is not inquiry.

I’m not sure I can say that one thing is inquiry and another thing is not.

Can silence be inquiry?
As I sit in a large unfamiliar room right now at the National Council of Teachers of English, I am silent, and I am wondering. How does a room like this get built? Why is it that so many people have arrived early for this session? What do these people want from this session? From the conference? From their living in the world?
I am silent. I am curious. I am wondering.
Is that inquiry?

Can listening to a lecture be inquiry?
I love a good lecture, listening to someone talk about something they know a lot about, something they are passionate about, something they can offer me as another way of seeing and living the world.
I am also silent during lectures, and I am not talking, and I didn’t get to choose the topic, and I am fascinated – swept up into a world of curiosity and wondering and rethinking and re-seeing.
Is this inquiry?

Why is it that things have to be named? That one word or phrase must be defined – and as a result invite some things in and exclude other possibilities?

Why is it that something like “inquiry” is linked to a particular way of using our body and our language? Couldn’t it be a way of living in the world? That we can inquire into the topic or issue at hand, that we can inquire into our own imagination and thoughts, that we can inquire into the words and actions of someone else?

I am an inquirer. Whether or not that fits within the educational term inquiry is left unknown.

  1. Yes, inquiry is a way of approaching the world. I’m with you on this.
    Learning is so complicated, there are no simple programs to follow. No “if you do x every day then y will happen.” Silent reflection and wondering, listening, writing, talking, playing, and so much more – all inquiry.

  2. Yes, yes, and yes and yes … You raise thoughtful questions of “inquiry.” Thank you for making me wonder.

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