I often wonder what happens to inquiry when it’s not heard or seen. Not recognized. We normally celebrate and acknowledge verbal and written inquiry. It is celebrated. What about authentic inquiry that goes unnoticed? What about inquiry that happens later on, at home, after school or during quiet reflection? Or more impotantly, what happens to inquiry that goes unnoticed right under our noses?
I began noticing in my own practice that things that interested learners even though not related to our unit kept coming up, especially during share time (I teach Grade 1). I felt I was often dismissing these natural events of spontaneous inquiry due to time constraints. Spontaneous inquiry. I thought about it. I thought about how many times this natural inquiry came up, kids were engaged yet it seemed less valuable because it wasn’t related to inquiry I wanted them to inquire into (ie: our unit).
So the next part of my own journey and awakening was to first acknowledge this spontaneous inquiry. Second, what to do with it once I’ve recognized it as an act of inquiry. There is a difference between a question and an act of inquiry. I managed to uncover many acts of inquiry that were right under my nose during share time.
The outcome? I identified these nuggets of spontaneous inquiry and acknowledged them in some way. Some ideas led to further questions, others did not. However the culture of asking questions and wondering became stronger. By taking an interest in what kids want to know about and being a flexible educator, we were able to explore ideas, and value all inquiry, no matter how subtle.