How to Escape Education’s Death Valley

I found this talk, like all of Ken Robinson’s TED talks very inspiring and really got me thinking about how his message connects to inquiry learning.  Click here to view.

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Ken says, “There are three principles on which human life flourishes, and they are contradicted by the culture of education under which most teachers have to labor and most students have to endure. The first is this, that human beings are naturally different and diverse...The second principle that drives human life flourishing is curiosity... And the third principle is this: that human life is inherently creative.

When watching this video I kept reflecting on the importance of student engagement and differentiation.  How well I am empowering students to pursue their innate curiosities?  How well am I honoring the principle that human life is inherently creative?  How can I provide an learning environment for students where students are encouraged and feel safe to take risks and be creative?

Another statement that really spoke to me is this one, “If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance, very often. Children are natural learners. It’s a real achievement to put that particular ability out, or to stifle it. Curiosity is the engine of achievement.

I just love that – curiosity is the engine of achievement.  It also really emphasizes for me how critical it is that the role of the teacher is one of facilitator.

Finally Ken says, “Great teachers do that, but what great teachers also do is mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage. You see, in the end, education is about learning. If there’s no learning going on, there’s no education going on.

In my experience an inquiry-driven programme, such as the PYP demands that teachers do just this – mentor, stimulate, provoke and engage.  However, I feel that many teachers struggle to let go of teaching content and lesson plans from textbooks because it involves taking a risk.  How can schools better support and encourage teachers to be inquirers themselves?