Inquiry and the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program
The word education comes from the Latin root educare which means "to draw forth". Inquiry is the primary teaching methodology of the IB Primary Years Program. An inquiry-based approach enables learners to "draw forth" and to become inquirers and lifetime learners. Questions draw forth. Inquiry comes from exploring and being interested in the world. In an inquiry classroom, curriculum is integrated and children are encouraged and given opportunities to question, explore, practice, manipulate, respond, and be engaged in learning.
An important element of learning is connecting to and building from one’s life experiences. This connection is essential to learning. Allowing students to explore, make their own connections, and giving time to share their connections and hear each other’s voices is fundamental. The main goals, in any classroom, are to help students learn and to meet the needs of each student. To attain these goals one needs to understand the development of children, how children learn, as well as the what, how, and why of teaching.
Differentiation, constructivism, and inquiry are the philosophies and strategies that build the teaching framework in an IB school. All are intertwined. The main task of a teacher in the teaching of any strategy, technique, or skill is to introduce it, give a rationale for it, tie it to past learning, practice it, and finally, internalize it so that it becomes a integrated part of learning. Use of the inquiry process and inquiry teaching philosophy enables the student and the teacher to explore, develop meaning, and to become active constructors of their own knowledge (i.e., their own schemas) through experiences that encourage assimilation and accommodation.
Siu-Runyan (1999) believed that inquiry is more than curriculum; it is a way to approach the work as a lifelong learner who is constantly searching out questions to pursue. If this pursuit is achieved, then teachers have done their jobs.
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