Swimming against the stream


Let’s face it, most schools in America do not have an inquiry focus. Most don’t even value the concept!

Education is going through a period of great tension. Sometimes the pressure catalyzes innovative schools and classrooms. More often, the default is drill-and-kill with standardized tests and curricula driving the bus.

In status quo schools, teachers who employ inquiry as a core value of their classroom can feel like outsiders. Students comment that our class is “different in a good way” (when they are being flattering) or “weird” (when they want to express frustration). Either way, it is easy to feel like we are swimming against the stream.

Swimming against the stream requires a much greater output of energy to cover the same distance – and it takes longer to reach the goal!

Can inquiry learning reach its full potential in a single classroom in a secondary school with traditional schedules and structures?

Image source: http://www.public-domain-image.com/public-domain-images-pictures-free-stock-photos/fauna-animals-public-domain-images-pictures/fishes-public-domain-images-pictures/salmon-fish-pictures/salmon-fish-swimming-upstream.jpg
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3 Responses to Swimming against the stream

  1. whatedsaid says:

    Hi Tyler,
    So good to have you back here!
    You ask a similar question to that asked in a recent comment by Tania Sheko on my latest post about inquiry based, concept driven learning in 5th grade. It’s much easier to make this kind of real learning happen in primary school than in high schools. One terrific teacher/learner/ thinker who works in the high school part of my own school told me this: A student, supported by a parent, in a parent teacher interview, complained about the fact that this teacher spends too much time encouraging thinking and discussion about issues that won’t be in the exams. So hard to create a culture of thinking and a climate learning under such circumstances…


  2. Ittay says:

    Henry Ford (1863-1947), the American founder of the Ford Motor Company which revolutionised the way cars are produced once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
    This is something worth reminding the parent who thinks inquiry about new ways of doing the same things is a waste of time.


  3. David Truss says:

    Can inquiry learning reach its full potential in a single classroom in a secondary school with traditional schedules and structures?

    I can think of at least one of the authors on this blog that tried… But the stream this person went up against was more like a raging river! I was just at the ConnectEd Canada conference and it was amazing how many people shared stories of swimming up stream. In many instances social media was the only place to find solace.

    This is a great question, and after visiting the Calgary Science School I’d say the answer is a resounding ‘No’! CSS lives ‘inquiry’ and it is driven by collaborative teachers with a common vision… And every member of the community believes in what they do. A single classroom can be incredible, but full potential can only be achieved within a common/shared school culture. (IMHO)


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