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.
I inevitably teach this poem to every English class I teach. Frost can sure say so much so beautifully – I’ve tried to live my life by this poem. Plenty of disasters but always looking forward to the sigh. Hope you are doing well at your new school 🙂
Indeed I am and glad to be able to take the road not taken.
Maybe I can inject a bit more poetry – and art – into my computing studies class. Now you’ve inspired me.
Thanks for your comment Melissa. I hope you’re doing well in your new role!
I love the idea of poetry and art in your computer class! Now that’s a whole new inquiry…
Can’t wait to hear how it goes.
You sure know how to frame a challenge Edna! Yeah, I’ll make it happen…somehow. and yeah, you’ll hear how it goes. 🙂
See my post just now at IW! It’s what inquiry teachers do… 🙂
I love this poem! It was one of a very few poems that appealed to me as a teenager taking English Lit class. It’s a good reflection on journeys in life and learning. I can make connections in my own life and have used it in Elementary classrooms to help students reflect on their personal journeys. I haven’t thought about it specifically in regard to inquiry before. Thanks for helping me make that connection!
I also love this poem – I love getting students to illustrate the poem by drawing the two paths 🙂
I wonder…what do you think is down the other road? If Inquiry learning is down the road you took, what is it that you would set this against, as the other ‘main road’?
PS. The poem gets tricky, I think, if you focus on the lines ‘as for that the passing there / had worn them really about the same, / and both that morning equally lay…’ Thoughts? Or am I taking it too far!
What a great idea to get your students to draw! and good questions!
The other road is any other pedagogy – be it direct instruction, games-based learning, challenge-based learning, modelling, flipped classroom, etc etc etc. There are a multitude of ways anything can be taught and learned…and one’s not necessarily better than the other. As teachers, we make a choice each time and it’s rare we get to have 2 different approaches for the same unit for the same class – unless, the first approach fails….which happened to me in Maths (fancy that) – e.g. when direct instruction “failed” in teaching Ratios, I switched to modelling and had more success then. As mentioned, I now prefer Inquiry but maintain an open mind that there is always the other road.
And so perhaps the above also answers your second question on the lines of the poem. …and aren’t poems meant to be taken as far as you can? (so no, not too far at all).
Thanks for finding me here and staying true to your wonderful thought-provoking comments. 🙂