Autor: UNOi

Fecha: 17 de septiembre de 2012

Inquiry minds want to learn

To Tell or Not to Tell, That is the Question By Alicia Haslam “It´s not possible to become a good thinker and to be a […]

To Tell or Not to Tell, That is the Question

By Alicia Haslam

“It´s not possible to become a good thinker and to be a lousy inquirer. Thoughts do not originate form answers but form questions”—Richard Pau

Asking is in our nature. As they learn to speak , children absorb the world around them by forming questions.

A child starts “What?” to identify the objects and events around him. Then, “Why?”, to try to understand how the world works.

Not only UNO Internacional, but also, the great majority of advanced educational programs, uses inquiry as the main tool to build knowledge and achieve higher-level thinking. Inquiry is a method that allows students to gain knowledge through their own natural curiosity. By asking questions themselves, they develop the ability to process information at an advanced level. They teacher´s responsibility is to guide these questions and facilitate higher understanding.

To achieve this, a teacher leads students through steps. For example, students are presented with a picture of a man in the desert, far away from civilizations; he is naked and is holding a short straw. Apparently he is dead.

There are two ways to find out what happened to him: you can tell the students or you can answer what they wish to know.

In both cases they learn the story. However, in the first scenario, since they haven´t built up their own thoughts, it will become just another forgettable story. On the other hand, if they lead themselves to discovery, the story turns into an adventure and they become part of it.

  “Tell me and I forget, Show me and I remember, Involve me and I understand”— Chinese proverb…

Here´s how the inquiry process works:

At first, the teacher allows students to ask literal questions. These make reference to simple data appearing directly in the source. For example “Is the man dead or alive?” Then, as understanding progresses, students start setting up exploratory questions, making reference to meanings, implications and interests that are beyond mere information. Example: “What is the relationship between the straw in his hand and the fact that he is naked?”

Finally, and after some discussion and reflection, students begin to ask the so-called metacognitive questions that lead to their own understanding and make them responsible to their own learning without depending exclusively on the interpretation of the teacher (who is, by now, a mere spectator, listening to the discussion aroused in the classroom) Example: “Could he have been part of a crew of some sort of plane or air balloon, crashing down, and forcing him to jump overboard after drawings straws?”

As this example shows, formulating questions is an effective way to clarify ideas, which are expressed through investigations, sharing ideas and reflections. When students make these sorts of questions, they demonstrate that they are deeply and actively involved in their own learning and understanding of how the world works.


  • Article based on ¿Que…Qué? El Arte de Preguntar para Enseñar Mejor, Everardo García and UNESCO The transdisciplinary evolution of learning


Close Bitnami banner