Our devotion to inquiry learning does not mean that we believe everything that children learn should be learned using an inquiry-based method. Rather, it means that we believe in drawing upon the inquiry process as often as possible when the situation- and the learning environment- supports it. As educators who largely were taught using more traditional, teacher-directed methods, this has been part of a huge mindset change! However, our new learning over the past several years has led us to work hard to incorporate what we truly believe is the most effective way of developing curious, critical, and engaged lifelong learners.
What is Inquiry?
At RGS, we believe that at the heart of learning is curiosity and wonderment - that people learn best when they are 1.) engaged in work that they have had a voice in, and 2.) are given the opportunity to construct and apply their own knowledge. This is what inquiry provides for each member of our learning community.
Our work in inquiry was drawn from a variety of sources, including that of John Dewey, who almost a century ago advocated for child-centered learning based upon authentic, real-world experiences. Decades of research has shown that inquiry-based learning, when done well, leads to students being as or more effectively prepared for further learning as does more "traditional" methods of instruction. In addition, the collaboration that is often a part of the inquiry process leads to better social and emotional outcomes for students.
For more on the benefits of inquiry, please use the following links:
Excerpt from Linda Darling-Hammond's book Powerful Learning
"What Children Gain by Learning Through Inquiry" http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2000/nsf99148/pdf/ch_2.pdf