The Wildness in Inquiry

the broken hill

the broken hill

Today, on my way home, I stopped, dumbfounded. The hill near my house had been stripped–of bushes and trees. We had received a notice in Japanese that it was going to happen, but I didn’t understand the implications. Reinforcement is what I remember they were doing, shoring up the hill.

Somehow that now translates to a barren hill, with stumps for trees. A place wild with cicadas in the summertime and loud with birds all year was gone.

I now understand that what they’re doing on this hill is reinforcing it with man-made structures. They’ll probably put the concrete slabs with drainage holes that I see all over the city. No trees, no wild. Controlled and strong.

This got me thinking about education and inquiry. When our director walked into my room the other day, there were students on the ground, working on a presentation. There was another group with cardboard creating a model steam engine. Another group was recording a video. The room was a mess with kids and things scattered about. I took a breath when he walked in, my immediate instinct to put everything into order. However it was only an instant. I realized, of course, this is what it should like. An inquiring mess.

A rollercoaster inquiry

A rollercoaster inquiry

Inquiry is wild, like that former hill across from my house. It’s filled with loud, chirping birds and the hum of cicadas. There is brush everywhere, and tree that grow amidst the tangled undergrowth. It’s home to wildness and expression and curiosity. There are places to explore that are hidden, and everyone seems to find a path to follow.

Inquiry is not, as Jason Graham said so nicely in his post recently, “planned.” The hill across from my house will now be a planned hill. It will be sturdy and solid. It’s definitely not going to be as fun as the previous one, nor will I learn so much from it. A friend’s son recently went back to a traditional school with a very structured curriculum. His review of his new structured curriculum school was: “The teachers seem to “teach” more, but I don’t learn as much.”

Why? He came from a school full of inquiry. I’m going to miss the hill across from my house, in all its wildness. I’m wondering where will the birds go? I’m more motivated, though, to keep on inquiring in my classroom and in the world beyond.

About kdceci

I am a grade 5 teacher in a PYP school in Chicago, Illinois, USA. From the US originally, I worked in Asia the last 13 years. I am passionate about inquiry-driven education, collaboration, and ensuring kids get to continue to be kids that play, create and think as long as they can. Outside of school, l love to write, read, hike, run, meditate and travel.
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1 Response to The Wildness in Inquiry

  1. awilkes2013 says:

    Brilliant! I love your analogy here. Inquiry is indeed wild and unplanned. But, as you suggest, it is also beautiful and rich. We learn best when things intrigue, puzzle, interest, challenge, and provoke us. I can imagine 10-15 questions immediately that students might ask in response to that one hill. What would happen if we actually let them pursue those?


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