Those who know me, know I am all for Inquiry in the Classroom. From kindergarten through senior academic classes, I believe there is room for inquiry. Quite simply,
it creates better thinkers, learners and problem-solvers.
So, when #ossemooc decided to do a month-long series on what I learned today I happened to be working through a dilemma of inquiry as a parent. Specifically, in the Henderson House, we have an ongoing discussion about money and chores. Without bringing in the many layers (read: years) of history with this topic, let’s just say that it’s the standard, Kids want money, I want a clean house, not sure how I feel about allowance…
So when the ten-year-old incessantly asks if she can learn how to do laundry, I say sure, sounds great. She has chosen this as a chore she wants to do, what’s better than that? (Plus: Family of five= no shortage of laundry.) Now I KNOW laundry isn’t rocket science, but it does involve some specific and explicit instruction. I will admit, it’s taken me three months to get to taking some time to SHOW her how to do laundry. (I can’t explain it, time just PASSES.) So there she is, happy as can be, sorting colours, adding detergent, PROUD AS CAN BE.
Except it’s not that simple.
“Mom, what if there is white AND red on the shirt?”
“Mom, what if I MISS your sweater and it ends up in the dryer?”
“Mom, what if there is grease on a part of dad’s pants that I can’t see?”
I WANT to be the parent who says, don’t worry, it’ll work out. We’ll be fine. I WANT to be the parent who has patience enough to answer every single question all day long, but also trusts that she can problem-solve on her own. I WANT to appreciate the thoughtfulness of these questions, and the value of the thinking that these imply. I WANT to. Really I do.
And most of all, I DO NOT WANT to give up and go back to doing the laundry myself.
Explicit instruction vs. Inquiry?
On a related note,
we’re working through inquiry in a cross-panel (intermediate-secondary) PLC. In this professional learning community, we have a team of wonderfully talented and energetic educators who are at all levels of adopting inquiry into their teaching practice. Together, we are learning what inquiry looks and feels like in different classes, subject areas, levels and grades. Best of all, we support one another in this journey. In yesterday’s PLC I remarked how relieved I feel that we are able to share and have this support… that in early years I did not have this support and always found myself wondering, Am I doing this right? How do I know it’s working? Am I still covering all of the content? Are the struggles worth it in the end? How much and when do I give up control? Are my students becoming better learners because of this?
So. Back to the laundry.
I don’t have an official parenting PLC. I do know that, as in the classroom, there is no guidebook, no absolutes, and that it is a process. I also know that, in all learning, there are no absolutes.
Inquiry AND explicit instruction are necessary.
Formative assessment is essential.
Questions are at the root of the best learning.
(Hers AND mine.)
At the end of the day, I have more questions than answers.
And this, my own words thrown back at me, an echo from my cheerleading support for a very uncertain teacher…
that’s how we know learning is happening!