Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” stands to be one of my favourite poems. I can still remember the English lesson where I made the mistake – yes, mistake – of interpreting the road less travelled by as being less appealing. Perhaps it is this learning by mistake that has made the poem memorable but that’s not really the point of this post. Rather, I want to use it as a metaphor for my recent teaching experiences.
A mere 4 weeks ago, I wrote excitedly about starting the new school year in a post I called No Entry. A couple of weeks later, I wrote about what I was doing in my classes – characterised by inquiry learning – and called the post Lost Already. And just a few days ago, I posted Making Progress. Even if you don’t read the original posts, you could get a sense of my teaching and learning journey in the last month. (But by all means, please feel free to read them – even better if you comment and extend the conversation).
As teachers, we always have a choice on how we go about devising learning experiences for our students. For the most part, these choices are equally appealing and deciding on one (as decide we must) is tricky. There are so many variables in the classroom and directly influencing it that what works one year may not work the next, and who would want to cover the same content with the same students but using a different pedagogical approach? Even if we wanted to, there’s not much time really, is there? So choose we must.
I think that inquiry learning is the road less travelled by, mainly because there are so many unknowns (variables) and these are welcomed (crazy, really, eh?). I choose this path knowing there are other ways and that yes, I could get lost….and do. I sure hope, like most teachers do regardless of how we teach, that it makes a difference to people other than me, i.e. my students.
Here’s the poem in full.