The Art of Inquiry

One of my favorite parts of teaching an inquiry-based program is the open-endedness of the questions we encourage kids to ask. Rather than explaining a piece of art, we ask things like, What do you see? and Great observation! Tell me more. Some things we have quick answers to: Clyfford Still died in 1980 but others we just don’t know, which is the point. It’s cool watching kids go from wanting to know the answers to embracing their own opinions of the art.

Teaching Bea the art of inquiry.
Teaching Bea the art of inquiry.

I’m almost finished reading The Lemon Tree and am feeling like none of my questions were answered. Even though the author made no promises to answer my questions, I wanted him to tie up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a neat solution. He’d spent hours and hours of interviews and research and I want an answer! Really, Sandy Tolan’s book tells a story. He doesn’t take sides, but lets the storytellers tell their own versions of events. It creates a well-balaned work, but I still walk away with the now what? question hanging over me.

It seems like motherhood has been the ultimate inquiry-based experience for me. There are absolutely no answers! I only read one or two parenting books before realizing that it’s an in-the-moment, common-sense, questioning sort of game. No quick answers are available, and if they seem to be they don’t always work.

I’m learning to embrace the inquiry. Perhaps I’ll arrive at a definitive answer but in the meantime, the questions bring about more questions which, more often than not, bring me to a new understanding of a situation.

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.

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8 thoughts on “The Art of Inquiry

  1. This was such a different take on “Open” that I had to read the post 3 times. I’m such a fact based person that those open ended questions are really hard for me to ask, and yet, as a homeschool mother, I find that they are sometimes the best questions for my children. They also help me assess their understanding. Open ended inquiry can be such a balancing act for me. Thank you for an honest and different post.

    Hugs,
    Melinda
    (visiting from FMF)

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I’d imagine in a homeschooling setting you’d encounter so many opportunities to sit back and listen to your kids’ connections. That was always a frustration when I taught 26+ kids – to give each an opportunity to share and teach.

  2. Hi Annie, So glad to connect with you today through FMF. I love the uniqueness of your post today. It’s hard when life, parenting, and such are filled with open-endedness. I like things to be neatly answered or resolved (and with a bow on top!) But your writing encourages us to learn not just from the answers but from the questions themselves. Very thought-provoking – thanks!

    1. Thanks for visiting, Renee! I know – I love knowing the outcome. Yet, when I stop and listen and learn from my questions, the “answers” don’t seem as important. Definitely not first-nature, though!

  3. After dinner tonight my hubs and I were discussing Numbers 9, where the people of Israel, by God’s command, followed that cloud whenever it lifted up from the tabernacle and when it stayed put, so did they. “Do you suppose He was testing them?” Hubs asked, referring I think to obedience. I said I’d love to have a cloud showing me exactly when to stay here or go there, do this or do that. I want certain answers, too—not so easy to get! Then I read your post—which reminded me how, as a teacher, I loved to ask those open-ended questions, too—and truly the questions that came from the kids revealed more than “right answers” would have. Eye-opener for me, because, yes, isn’t it just so with God? Thanks for these good thoughts!

    1. I know! When I read about the burning bush or the cloud to follow, I think, “how easy!” (Ha!) But, I also remember that God speaks in a small voice, as well. And, that even with the Big Displays, people still doubted…. Thanks for stopping by!

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